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Kuumba presented by TD Bank Financial Group
African Heritage Month festival returns to Harbourfront Centre
Two weekends of events - February 7 & 8 and February 14 & 15, 2009

Kuumba - Toronto's longest-running and largest African Heritage Month festival returns to Harbourfront Centre with two weekends of music, dance, film, comedy, spoken word and literary events that support and celebrate innovative local and international artists from the African and Caribbean diaspora. Kuumba's 12th edition salutes some of Toronto's most successful cultural entrepreneurs (A Different Booklist; Up From The Roots - Dwayne Morgan; Kenny Robinson's Nubian Disciples Comedy Crew; Muhtadi's International Drumming Festival and DLM Dance and Entertainment - Shawn Cuffie) while also showcasing numerous styles of African dance and drumming and the busy Somali film capital of Columbus, Ohio! Kuumba events are free and for all ages (except where noted). For information and to purchase tickets the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com

Kuumba Highlights February 7 and 8:
This first weekend of Kuumba events explores African drumming
and dance in numerous traditional and contemporary forms.

Somaliwood Film Festival (February 7 and 8) - Multiple premieres emerge from this festival showcasing the unique initiatives of Olol Films from Columbus, Ohio - the largest producer of Somali films and documentaries in the world! Director and Olol Films founder Abdisalam Aato will be present to illuminate and expound on his efforts to preserve Somali language and culture using the streets of his Columbus, Ohio home. Screenings titles include: Ambad(Lost), Somali Voices, Your Guide to Somali Culture and I've been shot, because I'm Somali (which shows the escalation of Somali people murdered in South Africa). Screening times: Somali Voices (Feb. 7 at 2 p.m.), Ambad (Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.), Your Guide to Somali Culture (Feb. 8 at 1 p.m.), I've been shot, because I'm Somali (Feb. 8 at 4 p.m.) - Somaliwood talk: Director Abdisalam Aato and Actress Yasmin Faduma Nakrum (February 7 at 5:30 p.m.)

Hiplife (February 7 at 5 p.m. and February 8 at 5:30 p.m.) – Hiplife is an innovative fusion of Ghanian highlife and hip-hop. Akin to Reggaeton and Dancehall, Hiplife utilizes Western and Caribbean music styles and is usually sung in a Ghanian dialect. This style has become increasing popular in Ghana. Highlife and Hiplife in hip-hop is represented at KUUMBA by MCJB Entertainment Hiplife recording artist Ghanian Canadian Bonita L and U.S. based artist Stevano U-G-O, who has had success with his single Straight From The Heart - which was played on BET's Rap City and which featured cameos by Bobby Brown and Method Man. He has recorded dance tracks with UK producers; including the underground hit Bran-Nu-Flo and has also had a Nigerian radio hit with the track Earthquakin' Afrikan M.C. The event also features Ghanian-Canadian hiplife MCs KcastyLuU and Flex. KcastyLuU has worked with a number of profile hiplife artists from Ghana while Flex released the well-received album Yensem (our words). Hosted by TRIXX.

Kuumba Choreographer's Congress (February 7 at 8 p.m.) - African movement meets Urban movement at this dance showcase involving original works from some of Toronto's finest choreographers like Jade "Hollywood" Anderson, Esie Mensah, Kevin A. Ormsby, Kay-Ann Ward and Shavar Blackwood. Curated by Shawn Cuffie of DLM Dance and Entertainment.

Sabar Dance and Drumming (February 7 at noon): This dynamic dance and drumming tradition is played mostly by the Wolof and Dioula groups in Senegal and Gambia. Baobab Afrikan Arts performers Tamsir Seck (dance) and Daniel Joof (drums) show Sabar music and movement in performance and workshops.

Horn of Africa: A Musical Odyssey (February 7 at 9:30 p.m.): This ticketed event ($15) is presented in partnership with Batuki Music featuring artists Daniel Nebiat and Kemer Yousuf. This evening of song and dance features traditional and original music from the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan) with performances rich in the Azmari style of musical storytelling and lyrical performance utlizing instruments like the masengo (one-stringed fiddle) or krar (five or six string lyre). Nebiat has performed at numerous festivals in Toronto while Toronto-based Yousuf has recorded a number of albums in Canada since leaving Ethiopia 25 years ago. Last year he returned to Ethiopia for a triumphant six concert tour due to the popularity of his recent CD and DVD video release Nabek.

More highlights include Voyage Afrique - The Roots of a Legacy, a dance homage to African dance styles by Ijo Vudu Dance International (February 8 at 4:30 p.m.) as well as griot songs in the Mandé traditions of the Dioubaté clan of Guinea by Toronto's Katenan "Cheka" Dioubaté (February 7 at 2 p.m.).

KUUMBA Highlights February 14 and 15:
This second weekend of Kuumba salutes and showcases
prominent African-Canadian cultural entrepreneurs from Toronto.

The Muhtadi International Drumming Festival 10th Anniversary Celebration (February 14 at 6 p.m. & February 15 at 3 p.m.) - Muhtadi Thomas has been performing for over 30 years and annually returns to his birth home of Trinidad & Tobago to perform at Carnival with the famous Desperadoes Steel Band. He has performed with Lord Kitchener and The Mighty Sparrow among others and is adept at playing djembe, bongos, congas, timbales and steel pan. He often conducts percussion workshops at organizations like the Arts Starts Neighbourhood Cultural Centre and has been a music judge at Caribana for over 12 years. Feb. 14 has performances by Maracatu Nunca Antes, Capoeira Angola, Muhtadi & The World Drummers, Barro Dun Dun Ba and Samba Squad. Feb. 15 features performances by Njacko Backo, Barro Dun DunBa, Hummingbird Tassa Group, Muhtadi & The World Drummers and Capoeira Angola.

A Different Booklist's 10th Anniversary Celebration (February 14 at 2 p.m.) - An afternoon of readings and storytelling by emerging and senior artists in children's literature and children's illustrated books. Artists reading and speaking include: Motion (featuring her new book Words); Angelot Ndongmo with her book Loving Me; and Karen Cyrus with her music book Big Ants Little Ants, Caribbean folk songs for kids. A 10th Anniversary book is being designed by artist Sandra Brewster to be signed by audience members as a keepsake for this celebration. A Different Booklist was the first afro-centered bookstore in Toronto. For ten years it has promoted literature from across the African diaspora, the Caribbean, Asia and Latin America. Through a range of programming including author's readings, visual arts, panel discussions and workshops their goal has been to advance literacy, encourage debate and critical inquiry, showcase new and emerging authors, and promote great books just for the simple joy of reading. has been a hub of cultural exploration and intellectual discussion in the Afro-Caribbean Community both in Toronto and nationally. They bring books to the community and to the people and have dedicated themselves to showcasing and supporting emerging and senior writers from the African diaspora. A Different Booklist is managed and owned by Itah Sadu, Miguel San Vicente and Robin Battle.

Kenny Robinson's Nubian Disciples Comedy Crew (February 14) - The hottest and longest running urban comedy revue in Canada has nurtured the careers of Russell Peters, Jean Paul and Marc Trinidad among many others. Founded by Canadian comedy icon Kenny Robinson the crew continues the last Sunday of every month at Yuk Yuk's. Kenny Robinson's Nubian Disciples Comedy Crew will be celebrated with two Kuumba performances. A free family-friendly Afternoon Delight event at 3 p.m. will be hosted by Jean Paul and includes comedy by Jay Martin, Peter Lawrence, Patrick Haye and Ben Mathai. A ticketed ($15) adults-only evening show starting at 9 p.m. entitled The St. Valentine's Day Laughter Massacre will be hosted by Marc Trinidad and will include comedy by TRIXX, Keith Pedro and Kevin Herod. Music for both events will be provided by aka Subliminal. Presented in partnership with MCJB Entertainment Inc.

Up From The Roots 15th Anniversary Celebration (February 15 at 5 p.m.): Up From The Roots is Toronto's premiere spoken word event producer annually staging dozens of events featuring local and international artists. Founder Dwayne Morgan has established himself as one of North America's top spoken word artists with performances in Canada, the U.S., England, Germany, Scotland, Belgium, Barbados, France, Hungary, Jamaica, and Amsterdam. He has received the African Canadian Achievement Award for Youth Achievement, and the prestigious Harry Jerome Award for Excellence in the Arts. He has self-published two chapbooks and three full volumes of his work. This Kuumba event features The Caribbean Dance Theatre, comedian Arthur Simeon, Subliminal, Earl LaPierre Jr (E-Man), Tamla Matthews, Lorraine Reid, and Dwayne Morgan backed by the band 88 Keys.

Music with Bite features Aché Brasil (February 15 at 1 p.m.): Jeunesses Musicales Ontario and Harbourfront Centre present the acclaimed Vancouver group Aché Brasil as part of the Music with Bite family concert series. This group fuses Afro-Brazilian music and dance with capoeira martial arts and acrobatics in a dynamic, colourful, high energy performance. Admission is free.

All Kuumba events are located at Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West).

For information call 416-973-4000 or visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com
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Media Contact: Shane Gerard, 416-973-4518, sgerard@harbourfrontcentre.com

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