Last week saw the return of AFRA Blackpool‘s annual Black History Month Celebration at Blackpool Football Club. A huge range of people from all sections of the community came together on Friday evening to enjoy the celebration which was kicked off with local community drumming organisation Tidal Beats.  One lone drummer sat in the middle of the dance floor until eventually the full group had appeared out of the audience (with their drums) to perform, transfixing the crowd with their rhythmic beats.

Before the delicious dinner of jerk chicken or beef curry arrived there was a chance for everyone to mingle, catch up with people they hadn’t seen for a while and browse the information stands. Gary Pretty from Blackpool’s Gambia School Project was on hand raising awareness of the project which aims to build new classrooms at a community primary school in the village of Sukuta.  He told us why he feels the work of AFRA and this event is so important.

Also in attendance was Olive Carol from Original T-Bag Designs, an organisation which works in South Africa empowering members of the Imizamu Yethu community to turn discarded tea bags from around the world into works of art. Olive told us how important she believes learning about different cultures can be.

Following dinner, Bob Marley tribute band Bob On took to the stage to perform the classics of the reggae legend and get the crowd onto it’s feet – and that they did, with no space left on the dance floor.  The whole room was in a party atmosphere which lasted well into the night. Towards the end of their set Bob On invited Tidal Beats to join them in an impromptu drumming jam which was fantastic and loved by the crowd.

Following the raffle, which included a plethora of prizes from signed Blackpool FC Football Boots to Seniors Fish & Chips vouchers, Tidal Beats were back to get the audience involved. The group encouraged adults and children to get up, grab a drum and make some noise which everyone was only too happy to do and the carnival feeling continued.

While the music continued we caught up with Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Sarah Riding, who was at the event.

Before we headed for the door we managed to speak to John Rodgers, one of the AFRA members who was involved in the organising of this fantastic event, to find out just what it means to him.

At the fantastic price of just £12 per ticket, including a delicious two course dinner, fantastic entertainment, and a reasonably priced bar, AFRA‘s Black History Month Celebration 2012 was a resounding success, we just can’t wait for the next one.

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