Afro Mania!

TACA wraps up Black History Month


Legacy Watkins

TACA Founder Rita Cohen, Bertha Lawani; creator of Aronse-Amade, and models Tammara Taylor, Amenze Kingsley and Rita Ogundare stand on stage at MacArthur Mall Feb. 29, 2020.

Brightly-colored Dashikis and upbeat African music were on full display in MacArthur Mall’s center court on the last day of February. Presented by Virginia’s Tidewater African Cultural Alliance, Afro Mania’s celebrations fostered a lively experience as an end to Black History Month. 

Held from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., the program was packed with performances from high school groups, African fashion shows, and Kenyan dances.

The organization was founded in 2017 and since then has held a handful of events to bring members of the African and African American community together.

“Africa has a rich and varied history, with beautiful cultures that represent our beauty, brilliance, and power,” said TACA President Rita Cohen.

Rita organized Afro Mania alongside her vice-president, Natasha Busari Ewa, to offer a free event to represent African culture with dance, music, fashion, and food.

Representatives from Ocean Lakes’ Black Student Union were invited to give a short exhibition on two prominent figures from the African diaspora.  

“I was overwhelmed at first seeing all the diversity in the crowd, but once it was my turn to speak, the nerves went away,” said presenter Angelina Delese. 

Students from Salem, Tallwood, Cox High Schools, along with Governor’s School for the Arts, gave the audience a show with various step routines and song renditions.  

A featured clothing company, Aronse-Amade, spread a positive message about fighting sex trafficking through their fashion. 

“Aronsé-Amadé main focus is to fund Ronse Foundation, solely focused on prevention and deterrence of sexual trafficking of young teenage girls and young adults at their most vulnerable and impressionable age,” said Bertha Lawani.

So with the partnering of positive organizations and African culture, the audience left with a lot to digest.

After the first two years of success, Afro Mania is set to come back next year on a tentative date: Feb. 28, 2021.

“I wanted to see something in our area that would not only strive to bring us together but would also work on educating us in the process,” said Rita. “I specifically want to involve our youth because they are our future and our biggest hope of bringing those of African descent together.”