Black Achievement Month opens in style
AMSTERDAM – Black Achievement Month kicked off with a spectacular opening ceremony at the International Theatre Amsterdam on Monday evening that brought traditional dances and songs, opera, ballet and spoken word.
The audience of several hundred people was treated to a very diverse, top-quality two-hour programme that included well-known black artistes such as second soloist of the Dutch National Ballet Michaela DePrince, Ladies of Tambú Giovanca Ostiana and Tamara Nivillac, percussionist Vernon Chatlein, spoken word artiste Sherwin Bonevacia, opera singer Anthony Heidweiler and writer Hélène Christelle Munganyende.
The audience responded very positively to all the performances and clapped along with the rhythm of the Ladies of Tambú and the traditional African dance of Jambo Africa. The presentation of a scene from the musical theatre piece “We have a Dream” with Bonevacia as Martin Luther King gave the audience goose bumps, as did the inspiring reading of Munganyende.
However, the biggest star of the evening for many was DePrince, a superb ballet dancer whose roots are in Sierra Leone. She danced a special piece as soloist that deeply moved the audience and left them in complete awe.
The programme was closed off with a scene from the successful musical The Colour Purple that involved the entire cast.
Amsterdam Alderman of Social Affairs and Diversity Rutger Groot Wassink’s welcoming words were well received. He spoke of the richness of diversity, the inclusion of everyone no matter where they came from, the acceptance of and respect for each other’s cultures and the importance of sharing each other’s stories.
Black Achievement Month, the third one since 2016, showcases the talent of black role models and achievers throughout October. The elaborate programme in four major cities – Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht – highlights black history and talent through exhibitions, debates, theatre, dance and films.
This year’s theme of Black Achievement Month, an initiative of the National Institute for the Netherlands Slave History and its Legacy NiNsee, is resistance. The project director is John Leerdam.
“It is a great opportunity to show what we have achieved. The younger generation also needs to feel supported in achieving their dreams,” ballet dancer DePrince told Amsterdam’s TV station AT5.