SAWUBONA! It's a Zulu greeting that means "I See You."

It means more than the traditional "hello." It says, "I See You. I See Your Essence. You are important to me, and I value You." This South African greeting carries the importance of recognizing the worth and dignity of each person. In the African village context, where everyone knows one another, it's a very powerful way to acknowledge the true essence of a person.

The Sawubona Project is about Friendship, and African History for All.

It’s about seeing each other for who we are and reclaiming our right and responsibility to create the world we want to live in.

Who is SAWUBONA for?

The project is designed for both the people of African descent and all other cultures to come together and learn more about the History of Africa and our traditional practices of healing and friendship.

Black people typically do not see themselves (well) represented in history books in schools or mainstream platforms, and too many people of African descent do not know about the real History of their own ancestry.

Because the accomplishments of Africans have been erased from history, other people tend to see Black people in a reductive context and through the lens of prejudice and discrimination. At African Friendship Society, we believe that we ALL deserve to know the real story of Africa without prejudice or discrimination.

It is possible to create a world where we embrace each other, and we learn and grow together, in friendship.

The Sawubona project is for anyone who considers themselves an ALLY of the Black community, and anyone who wants to help create a more empowered world.

What about the Experience?

For 8 weeks, we will gather online once a week to learn about the History of Africa, and in person twice a month to practice drumming and dancing, which are traditional activities that we find in most African countries and that are about bringing people together in trust, peace, and friendship.

You will learn how the first declaration of Human Rights was made in Africa in 1236, and other facts you may not know about our History. You will see that colonization did not bring civilization to Africa, that the history of the continent did not start with slavery and colonization, and you will discover some of the kingdoms and empires that existed well before colonization, and learn about how they developed and thrived and the systems that kept them in place for centuries. You will be fed real food for thoughts and engage in intelligent discussions that are designed to pique your curiosity and open a new world of learning and discoveries for everybody.

The material will be delivered in a way that combines academic methods and traditional learning, by both African academics, storytellers, artists and elders who are the custodians of the culture.

The in-person gatherings twice a month will also provide an opportunity for healing while cultivating friendship and wellbeing.

The project will end with a big village celebration to mark the next stage in our relationship and give each other a true experience of belonging.

How this Journey is Different

Coming together in friendship requires learning about each other.

For centuries Africa has been erased from history in order to better justify the pillage of its natural resources and the enslavement of its people. At African Friendship Society we promote Friendship, but we know that real friendship can only be built on mutual respect. There cannot be true respect when our history is ignored or dismissed, and when our traditions and spiritual practices are perceived as exotic folklore to be simply consumed as mere commodity.

To embrace our diversity and end anti-Black racism, we must all learn about the history that led us where we are today. In order to shift the perception (usually filled with unconscious biases) that most people have about Africa and its people today, they need to learn the true story of Africa.

Here in BC (and elsewhere!), we cannot expect to live in a peaceful society while a big group comprising that society does not feel safe, seen, welcome, or respected. Yet this issue does not have to divide us, and the act of acknowledging that there is a problem can be an opportunity to come together and build solid bridges for real multiculturalism.

This project is designed to do just that by bringing people together around the respectful learning and celebration of African culture and history, in a way that restores the dignity of the people of African descent in our community. Anti-Black racism exist primarily because of the way history was written and what has been said about Black people for too long, and today we have an opportunity to rectify the narrative.

Our hope is that at the end of this project we can truly say "Sawubona" to each other. We can begin to see each other beyond the cliches we thought were real. We can open our minds and hearts long enough to start creating a shift that will ignite our curiosity and make us want to learn more about each other. And why not, we can cultivate true Friendship.

How this Free Journey is Funded

The Sawubona project is entirely funded by the Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism grant from the Government of British Columbia. Participation is FREE and Registration is required.