Birthright AFRICA hosts inaugural gala

Songstress Carmen Rodgers.
Joy Malone

On a warm Wednesday evening, Birthright AFRICA hosted its inaugural gala, co-chaired by GRAMMY® Award-nominated multi-platinum rapper, singer, songwriter, producer and actor Jidenna, at Tastemakers Africa House in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Award winning entrepreneur, Tastemakers Africa chief executive officer and founder, Cherae Robinson and manager of Intra-African Trade Initiative at Afreximbank — African Export and Import Bank, Temwa Gondwe (not in attendance) also co-hosted the event.

According to Kim Wilson Marshall, founder and director, the virtual / hybrid gala, with event direction by Bee Season Events, celebrated the five-year anniversary of Birthright AFRICA.

Walla Elsheikh and Diallo Shabazz co-founded Birthright AFRICA and they collaborate with partners to provide free educational trips to Africa for youth and young adults of African descent, ages 13 – 30, “to explore their cultural roots and legacy of innovation within the US and Africa as a birthright for free,” Wilson Marshall said.

The gala honored via pre-recorded video Chief Marketing Officer for NetFlix and Co-Founder of Full Circle Festival, Bozoma Saint John; African Ancestry Co-Founder and President Dr. Gina Paige, and African Diaspora Development Institute President and Founder, Amb. Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao.

Wilson Marshall said the Birthright AFRICA gala in-person watch party welcomed nearly 75 “gorgeous and handsome guests” in African-inspired semi-formal attire, while enjoying cocktails sponsored by St. Germain and Bed-Vyne, presented by Uncorked and Cultured, with “an amazing dinner by Teranga.”

Co-Chairs JIDENNA and Cherae Robinson. Joy Malone

“The guests in Brooklyn and simulcast at Republic Bar and Lounge in Accra, Ghana and all over the globe enjoyed live music performances by Jidenna and songstress Carmen Rodgers from NYC; video performances by Ray Hodge and the Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center; special shout-out from actor/model Boris Kodjoe; and sounds by Nana Kwabena and Niara Sterling,” Wilson Marshall said.

Wilson Marshall said Birthright AFRICA raised nearly $100,000 to support Birthright AFRICA’s nationwide outreach for the first time to select 12 young people of African descent to join Jidenna for the first cohort of Birthright AFRICA scholars to return to Ghana since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“2019 was titled ‘The Year of the Return’ with hopes for 2020 to kick-off ‘Beyond The Return’, but was preempted due to the pandemic,” Wilson Marshall said. “The December 2021/January 2022 Birthright Scholar cohort will experience ‘The Return of the Return’,’ as they embark on the life-changing impact of returning to the motherland and get the special opportunity to connect and reflect on the journey with Jidenna, who recently joined the Executive Board of Birthright AFRICA.”

Eligible candidates can register at: https://birthrightafrica.org/birthright-scholars/

Funds raised at The Birthright AFRICA gala will support covering all travel-related costs for this end of year Birthright Scholars cohort “to experience the transformative power of returning to the ancestral homeland and up to 500 young people of African descent in 2022,” Wilson Marshall said.

To support the campaign to raise $500,000 to send 500 Birthright AFRICA Scholars in 2022, text “donate” or “pledge” to 646-437-8147 or go to www.birthrightafrica.org/donate.

To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, contact Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Walla Elsheikh at [email protected] or 646-261-4227.

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