The 6th Annual Africa Belle Festival was yet another huge success hosted by Alliance Française d’Atlanta. Africa Belle is a power-packed week full of cultural events, dialogues, social gatherings, food and fashion. And although cultural events are always going down in Atlanta throughout the year, Africa Belle definitely stands out among the rest!
With much preparation, this event draws both francophones and admirers of the African diaspora to network and celebrate their heritage in a way that is both edifying and educational. After an exciting week of panel discussions, a women’s luncheon and other activities for the family, the highly anticipated Africa Belle Soirée and finale was underway. This year’s theme Héroïnes d’Afriques (Female African Heroes), focused on women in the diaspora with amazing stories of courage and inspiration who have done significant work in both their communities and in the realm of business. The Friday night soirée allows local contemporary African-style vendors to sell, a time of dancing, music, phenomenal Western/Central African dishes for the guests, and finally, a fashion show featuring several looks from a local African-Style designer for the public. One of the ladies I got a chance to speak to at Africa Belle was Mimi Hill, a Guinean vendor selling her prized natural hair products.
Mimi’s brand called “Chevelure by Mimi” was created to help women’s hair grow fuller and healthier. Mimi shares with us that her line is ideal for ladies who have thinning hair and is available in a hair pomade, leave-in conditioner, shampoo, black soaps and more. Along with Mimi, I also got an opportunity to interview the featured designer for the fashion show and proprietor of Suakokobetty, Ms. Charlene Dunbar. Charlene says that her line is inspired by African design and is all about celebrating the African aesthetic such through lively colors, mixed prints, graphic prints, etc. And this was exactly what we got to see as her amazingly vibrant and custom-fitting designs blazed the terrace rooftop runway of Alliance Française. Charlene continued to share how it’s very important to celebrate the African aesthetic as she personally has found that this is a great way of showing the positive side of Africa and gaining the support of others who want to connect to the continent.
Along with Mimi and Charlene, we were also able to speak to the owner of Bantu Records who attended the event, Daniel Nunga. Daniel is manager and owner of Bantu Records, an indie recording label he started which provides a platform for young African musicians and artists in America to showcase their talent. Daniel feels that in such a competitive music industry, that it’s not a matter of competition as much as it is providing all genres of music opportunity to be celebrated by those who would appreciate the diversity of music. His music is for those who appreciate global sounds and fresh voices and Bantu Records seeks to develop these artists as a whole.
In short, Africa Belle is certainly exciting event from start to finish! Each guest will attest to really feeling like they’ve traveled to a distant francophone country for an unforgettable experience. A huge thanks to the leadership staff at Alliance Française d’Atlanta and all of their sponsors for a very memorable francophone festival! We look forward to next year!
For more info about Africa Belle and related-events sponsored by Alliance Française d’Atlanta, please visit aftl.com.
Photos Courtesy of Lindsay Abarca Photography