An event in Taipei yesterday featuring African and Caribbean cultures brought together hundreds of people from different backgrounds through music, food and dance.
The Mama Africa Heritage Festival hopes to make people of African heritage in Taiwan feel more at home and share their culture with Taiwanese, event organizers said.
“The event is an opportunity to share our culture and heritage with the Taiwanese community, and also for African Americans, Africans and those from the Caribbean to find an event that represents them,” organizer Jenny Pierre said.
Pierre, a Haitian national who has been in Taiwan for six years, and two other organizers said that they hope to encourage people to experience new things and promote open-mindedness.
Visitors were offered samples of traditional Caribbean and African food such as jerk chicken wraps, Gambian Jollof rice and Moroccan spiced pork sandwiches, while also having their faces painted or hair braided.
Event-goer De Markus Brandon from the US said that festivals such as this make it easier for people to open up and get to know each other, as people tend to focus on their own culture.
The black community is often misrepresented in Taiwan, Brandon said, adding that people who ask where he comes from often assume he is from Africa.
“We are together, but we are different,” he said.
Scot Zoe Lorimer said that the event is meaningful, as “it touches on so many groups of people,” and that she hopes connections can be made.
“Unless people are motivated, they won’t look for information,” she said.
It was that motivation that drew university student Chen Tzu-jung (陳姿蓉) to the event.
Chen, who said she is interested in African culture, found the event through social media and took part in a singing contest with a French song called Je Veux.
“The song means ‘I want to’ in English, and I hope everyone here today can just be themselves at ease,” she said.
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