Most people who have ever relocated in their lives, will have experienced some form of culture shock in the new city or town they relocate to. For me, as a native New Yorker & Chicago resident of 6 years, the shock was far more than climatical. Within 2 months of moving to Miami, I realized just how much I began to miss continental Africans. On any given day, in NYC or Chitown, I can easily go to my favorite Ethiopian restaurant, order a bottle of homemade Tej aka honey wine, eat with my hands from a communally shared dish, watch football (soccer) & engage with a group of young people who would bring me that much closer to my roots with their hillarious anecdotes. It was upon reminiscing of these wonderful times I became conscious of the void that had been created when I moved here, which I continuously long to fulfill.
I remember asking people "where are the Africans?" as my mouth watered for some Thiebou Djenne, my favorite Guinean dish. Within my constant search I have found that there is an expansive Nigerian community here in South Florida however I've clearly been spoiled with the rich cultural environments of Senegalese, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Guineans, Malians, Ghanaians, Cote D'Ivoirians, South Africans, Sudanese, Kenyans, Beninians, Gambians, Congolese & Namibians to name just a few! The unwavering presence of my African family & friends at home, left me craving any and every culturally African idiosyncracy I had ever experienced. I often find myself rumaging through youtube videos just to help fill that void.
I have to admit, there are a few gems here in South Florida that have aided in my transition, mainly the consistent works of Ankara Miami Inc CEO & Founder Evelyn Onyejuwura aka Miss Nigeria Florida 2011-2012. "Ankara Miami is a South Florida based event planning company comitted to 'Redefining African Cultural Trends'...Ankara Miami is the FIRST & LARGEST major runway production in Florida featuring designers, entertainment, & art solely from Africa & the African Diaspora."
When I attended my first Ankara Miami event in 2012, I immediately experienced the genuine joyful nostalgia akin to warm summer sunshine, drums playing, people dancing & the boisterous laughter of my African peers. It was as if I had taken a trip to my 3 homes in NYC, Chitown & of course the Motherland herself!
I hold the works of Ankara Miami Inc very dear to my heart, so you can just imagine the rush of emotion I felt when they announced the first ever Ankara Miami fashion Week starting tomorrow! It is a MUST attend for the entire South Florida African Diaspora, whether you be of African, Caribbean, or North/South American descent. It's not too late to get your tix! You can even use my discount code IABTA if need be but just know that I MUST see you there, no excuses no apologies!
Tracy Ann Simmonds
Miami Culture Maven
Fashionistas Supporting Local Designers