Harlem’s Sounds Of Africa

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The browning of America is becoming an increasing reality as the world continues to shrink and the culture and people of the Motherland find their way to America.

What is most wonderful about this is that finally those discerning Americans, who are interested in dispelling the myths about Africa, can do so via contact with Africans from the 54 or so countries encompassed within the African continent.  American people, whose knowledge about Africa, has primarily come via European text and version, now have the opportunity to secure first-hand knowledge through personalized encounters.

Recently, I have begun hosting a radio show on www.SARFMRADIO.com every Thursday at 9:00 p.m., which has enabled me to co-host with and befriend its founder, Chaka Ngwenya, a young radio and TV personality, who has been in America since 2000. 

“I am from Zimbabwe in Southern Africa,” explained Chaka of his origins and birthplace.  “South Africa and Zimbabwe are neighbors like New York and New Jersey are neighbors. Zimbabwe did not experience apartheid like South Africans, many of whom came to Zimbabwe to live outside of apartheid. The people of Zimbabwe helped those under the rigors of apartheid and did what we could to make sure apartheid was abolished.  South Africa includes Cape town, Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban etc.  Southern Africa is Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, etc.  Zimbabwe where I lived is beautiful with landscapes, sunrises and sunsets that are just incredible,” said Chaka of his homeland. “However, even at a young age, I knew one day I would live in New York.  I told my mother this and she told me that if I planned to live in New York, I had better become educated so I could make enough money to afford to go to America.  I became a civil engineer,” chuckled the broadcaster.

“I came to America in 2000 and worked for the Salvation Army, the facility that recruited, hired, and brought me to America.  I worked on national radio in southern Africa and on TV prior to coming to America.  I was a radio personality in Africa and worked as a presenter and promoter on TV,” stated the affable radio host. 

“The television industry is growing in Africa.  In Africa, the resources are not there yet to make movies and films as it is in the West; although, there are lots of talented performers in Africa. It’s difficult.  We have to rely on the West. African movies are beginning to infiltrate into American culture more and more. Although, I did not formerly consider myself an actor, I presently have a role on YamaaAfrika-TV. YamaaAfrika-TV is going to be broadcast in France and in some of the francophone countries.  The show is about 4 African girls who immigrated to New York.  It’s a story about their immigration, their love lives, their families, and their jobs.  My character is nothing like me. I play Sam. Sam works on Wall Street. He makes a lot of money and is in love with one of the girls and even helped her come to New York. When I first started doing the TV show, I had a small role but the role has since been enlarged.  I am having fun in the role and enjoying acting. Who knows, maybe I could become as well known as Djimon Housou whom I admire and think is a wonderful actor.  I would love to interview Djimon one day on SARFMRadio.  Actually, the YamaaAfrika-TV producers are looking to bring the show to America.  I think there is an audience in America for the program,” said Chaka.

Ngwenya is a well liked personality in Harlem who can often be found working with youth at the Salvation Army.  His background in radio enabled him to establish his own radio station located within the Salvation Army building where he and several hosts broadcast daily.  “I noticed that there is a growing community of Africans who live in Harlem,” said the SARFMRadio creator.  “I saw that there was little to no programming that represented Southern Africans.  There was no where for us to listen to our music so I worked with some designers and people who helped me set up this station.  At first, I started with African hosts but I saw where I needed to reach out to non-Africans and members of the African American community, so now I include them among the hosts as well.  The idea is too inform non-Africans about Africa and to offer a venue for Africans to hear both African and American programming,” indicated Chaka about his burgeoning station and its expanding concept.

A businessman, Chaka Ngwenya, is constantly seeking ways to support his station, be inclusive of the community, and help everyone come together for the benefit of all.  “I am promoting an African Festival and Flea Market which will feature music, dance, poetry, African TV, and fashion, as well as have a children’s dance competition, on Saturday, September 8th, at the Salvation Army building, located at 540 Lennox Avenue (between 137th and 138th Streets) from 8:00 to 5:00,” said the busy entrepreneur.  “The Festival will be inside and outside.  Booths are selling at $50.00. Vendors seeking information can call 917-375-5502 or 212-283-3866 or write to events @sarfmradio.com. 
The Flea Market will be from 8:00 a.m., until 5:00 p.m., wherein vendors will sell their wares. From 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m., we will present shows and have artists perform.  Entertainment will include Soulful singer Angela McKenzie, Lil Mama, Poets u-meleni and Nick Zee, Hip hopper Mobetta, the Nyaniso Fashion Show and a screening of the YamaaFrika-TV Show,” said Chaka.

“Some of the performers may be more known to the African community but it gives the non-African community an opportunity to become acquainted with some of our wonderful African talent.  So, come on down to the Festival and Flea Market.  I guarantee you will be glad you did.”

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Also visit out sister publications Harlem Business News www.harlembusinessnews.com and The Groove music magazine at www.thegroovemag.com

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