Pan African Cultural Heritage Institute

 

 

 Forgotten Communities Arts Program 

 

The Forgotten Communities Program was created as a community based tourism project to support talented painters and performing artists to re-capture the spirituality and dignity of "Ordinary People"; who once and now, inhabit cultural and historic communities that are neglected by mainstream society. Only through the arts, can the spiritual moment and importance of a culture be recreated and conveyed to another culture.  

The Forgotten Communities Program is a call to all artists, particularly those of African descent, to begin painting their visions and memories of their culture and historic communities, and share them with the world. It is a call to singers and musicians, to remember the great works of masters in the art of gospel, jazz, blues, and poetry and to sing, play and perform those creative masterpieces of our culture.  It is important for us to remember and preserve the great works of our ancestors and make a major effort the preservation of these past contributions to our culture and our history so future generations can use them and find their way in our multi-cultural society.   

The Forgotten Communities Program is also a cultural heritage tourism and marketing program. The program assists community tourism leaders and artists in the development of Community Festivals and Events to expose others to cultural heritage arts, the history and traditions of our culture in the communities they were created.  The festival and events will assist in the attraction of investors and new businesses that will create jobs by catering to the needs of tourists and the artisans of these planned art and entertainment districts. This program a major platform of the National Cultural Heritage Initiative sponsored by the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C.  

 

Gullah Arts Initiative

Americans of African descent are known as Gullah in the Carolinas and Geechee in Georgia and Florida.  The Gullahs, who live on the islands; are descendants of enslaved West Africans.  They worked the rice and cotton fields and made South Carolina, and other Southern States, some of the wealthiest of the American colonies. Before they were freed, the island inhabitants were offered a chance to purchase their land.

More than 300 years after their arrival, the people who once thrived along the coast from northern Florida to North Carolina are struggling to hold on to their land, culture and heritage. This Pan African American culture has maintained its African culture longer than any enslaved descendants in America. The Gullah/Geechee culture survived in many areas untouched, because of the isolation of the Sea Islands. But now the culture and many sites, are threatened by coastal development; and lack of awareness, education and job opportunities among Gullah people.

As preservation efforts grow, awareness and renewed interest in this Pan African American culture also continues to grow. Therefore, It is important for Gullah/Geechee people to preserve their cultural economic assets; and the authenticity of their art, food and music.

The Pan African Cultural Heritage Institute recognizes the importance of this struggle and have joined the effort in assisting them in their effort to maintain their culture and history. The Institute's focus is the education and research of cultures of people of African descent, and the teaching of the importance of maintaining the cultural and historical assets to promote economic development to enhance community viability. Given the unique culture and influences of the Gullah/Geechee community on African American and American culture and history, the Pan African Cultural Heritage Institute is dedicated to its survival.

To assist in maintaining the cultural-economic assets of the Gullah/Geechee people, the Pan African American Cultural Heritage Institute has created a Seal of Authenticity to assist in identifying authentic Gullah/Geechee arts, crafts, music, basket making, and other artworks. The creation of this seal is to help the Gullah Geechee community maximize and maintain the value of the cultural creations and protect their industry from non-cultural imitations that have degraded the image of the culture and value of the arts, economically.

The design of the emblem was created by International Gullah cultural artist Sonja Griffin Evans. She was born and raised in Beaufort, South Carolina, the heart of the Gullah/Geechee culture. Evans is the founder of the National ‘For Artists – By Artists’ Society and a major contributor in the development of the 'Forgotten Communities Art Program' for the Institute’s Pan African American Cultural Heritage Initiative. The program and the initiatives were created to preserve and promote the culture and heritage of people of Pan Africa via research, education, and the arts. Evans is the President of the South Carolina Cultural Heritage Society and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pan African Cultural Heritage Institute and the National Cultural Heritage Tourism Society. 

Growing up in the Low-country region of South Carolina, Sonja has been heavily influenced by culture and heritage of her people.  A people and region that prides itself on its ability to preserve its culture and heritage.  Sonja, through her art, showcases her uncanny ability to capture the beauty, spirituality and purest representations of the Sea Islands and of African American culture. As a prolific mix media artist, she incorporates items such as tin, wood and other materials in her art. She is also adept at painting the vibrantly textured colored art on canvas, that is acknowledged as, the traditional Gullah style. In both mediums, Sonja is careful to express her culture in its purest form.  Sonja clearly understands the need to protect the image and integrity of Gullah art and willingly agreed to design the seal that will bring awareness to the problem of imitation Gullah art and crafts.

The stamps of the emblem are hand carved by International Gullah craftsman and artist Hank D. Herring.  For over 20 years, Herring has been known for his hand carved stamps of Adinkra symbols, which are from Ghana, West Africa, where many Lowcountry Gullah families have ancestral connections.  Adinkra symbols  are used especially for the fact that they all have positive meanings and promote unity. Adinkra  was the exclusive right of royalty and spiritual leaders, and only used for important ceremonies. Herring is carrying on a tradition of his ancestral heritage and also recognizes the importance of maintaining the authenticity of his ancestor's cultural creations.

Beginning in March of 2016, the MUNKAMBA emblem will be available through the Pan African Cultural Heritage Institute to be used to identify arts and crafts and other items produced by Gullah Geechee people of African descent. The emblem provides a "guarantee of authenticity" -- "that the article is made by, handcrafted and finished by a Gullah Geechee artist and artisans." Additionally, it is hoped that the use of the MUNKAMBA Emblem will not only preserve, but draw attention to and help preserve and stimulate the Gullah Geechee economy.

The word MUNKAMBA means ancestors, and the Adinkra “Sankofa” heart symbol means go back and fetch what you forgot. It teaches the African diaspora that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, we should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone, or been stripped of can be reclaimed, revived, preserved, and perpetuated.  This is the mission of the Pan African Cultural Heritage Institute and the reasoning for the usage of the "MUNKAMBA EMBLEM".   Support the Movement by joining us in this worthwhile cultural and economic endeavor! 

 

 

 "The Spiritual Foundation Has Been Laid and the Hard Work Has Been Done!”

 

 

                                                           www.fabaarts.com

 

 (An Affiliate of the National Cultural Heritage Society)

 

The National "For Artists - By Artists" Society (FABA) is a non-profit organization created to support cultural artists.  FABA is a community of artists who desire to help promote cultural diversity in the arts. We are an organization that understands the needs of artists - because we are artists. Your painters, chefs, musicians, singers, dancers, storytellers and more. WE ARE THE ARTS!

The purpose of FABA is to develop new venues to showcase, display and sell the art of cultural artists. FABA desires to support and promote cultural artists who have ambitions of making a living with their art.

FABA develops and coordinates programs and activities, conducts workshops, seminars and conferences for cultural artists and art organizations, provides in-school programs (including artists-in-residence and performances).

  

 

 

 

   

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