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Drums, songs highlight local tribute to Mandela

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Deji Salami (centre) dances with KB Fujumelody at an event celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela at the Ethiopian Cultural Centre on Sunday evening.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Deji Salami (centre) dances with KB Fujumelody at an event celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela at the Ethiopian Cultural Centre on Sunday evening. Photo Store

It was standing room only at the second Nelson Mandela tribute this weekend, held Sunday evening at the Ethiopian Cultural Centre on Selkirk Avenue.

A lively memorial of drumming and singing from Winnipeg’s African communities paid tribute to the African leader, whose 10-day mourning ended Sunday with his burial in his South African home village of Qunu.

Here in Winnipeg, the first event to pay tribute to the anti-apartheid champion was held Saturday at the legislative building.

Sunday's event opened with speeches from dignitaries, including Manitoba Multicultural Minister Flor Macelino and Mayor Sam Katz. They were followed by leaders of the African communities, who recalled Africa’s greatest son as an icon and teacher with a universal message for humanity.

"Tonight it’s a celebration. We are here to rejoice, celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela, and we’re going to do it the African way," said Frank Indome, board member of the African Communities of Manitoba Inc., which organized the evening event. The umbrella organization represents around 25 African groups and hosts a Folklorama pavilion every year. Celebrating the African way means drumming and singing, with some of the communities' best-known drummers.

Evans Coffie held a small hand drum that drew sounds like thunder and rain, ending on a single throbbing beat he paced out as he slowly walked down the central aisle of the centre, flanked by 150 people who were completely silent.

Another drummer, Kabiru Fujumelody, nodded that the piece was a tribute to Mandela, a traditional way to send a spirit home.

"A mini tribute to send him home, that’s one segment I’m going to be doing. In my country, depending on whether you are Christian or Muslin, there is a song and drumming, a tribute to send someone home," said the Nigerian drummer.

History

Updated on Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 8:51 PM CST: Adds photo.

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