African Arts Institute

About Us

African Arts Institute (AAI) is a non-profit organization headquartered in Belleville, Ontario, steered by a team of directors and volunteers who are committed to the promotion and management of African arts and culture. AAI provides a platform where Africa’s arts, culture, and traditions are showcased and celebrated. Furthermore, AAI is dedicated to fostering inclusivity and empowerment, particularly within the Canadian cultural landscape, welcoming individuals from a myriad of cultural backgrounds. 

Vision

African Arts Institute inspires, educates, and entertains the public about African arts and culture. We create greater public understanding of the richness and diversity of Africa. We support unity among all peoples.

Mission

We achieve our vision through presenting educational opportunities both live and virtual; by presenting artists in concerts, festivals, artist talks, and arts education; conducting and presenting academic and artistic research; and through recreational activities.

Board of Directors

Angela Boyer, Director

Mshimkenh Ense Kwe – Angela Boyer is of mixed ancestry, Ojibway from the Mississauga First Nation #8 & Cuenca Ecuador South America. Member of the Wolf Clan. Angela is an advocate of Indigenous arts & culture. Angela has been a volunteer since she was 12 years old for the Indigenous community in Toronto. In her younger years she has managed the Native Canadian Centres Calendar Project with schools across Ontario. Angela currently works as the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women Team Lead for Toronto Council Fire Cultural Centre. In her free time is a dedicated Community Builder & Intuitive Public Speaker. Angela is also a poet whose poetry honours the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous women GT2S across Turtle Island. Angela was instrumental in founding the Heartbeats in Performing Arts Co-op and Internship Program for Black and Indigenous Youth with Performing Arts, City of Brampton. Angela considers herself an artist of life and believes anything you touch with love and passion can be turned into something magical.

Christiana Nuamah, Director

Mrs. Christiana Nuamah’s remarkable journey from Ghana to Canada in the 1980s embodies her outstanding career as a Canadian banker, her devotion in preserving Ga-Adangbe culture, or Ghanaian culture as a whole, and her unwavering commitment to community service has made her a leader in the community. She is a catalyst for change, a cultural ambassador, and an inspiring force for the youth and future generations. Banking Career and Leadership: In the world of Canadian banking, Christiana rose to a prominent management position through dedication and a commitment to excellence. Promotion of Culture: While excelling in her banking career, Christiana passionately advocated for the preservation and promotion of Ga-Adangbe culture, fostering unity among diverse communities. Community Engagement: Christiana is actively participating in the City of Brampton Heritage Board and leads community outreach programs, providing opportunities for growth and mentorship, particularly for the youth and future generations. Leadership in Ghanaian Community: Christiana served as President of the Ga-Adangbe Association of Toronto, Canada, and a Chairperson of the Council of Representatives of GDI (Ga-Dangbe International) in North America. Recognition and Awards: Her contributions earned her numerous community and professional recognition awards. Family and Legacy: As a loving mother and grandmother, Christiana’s dedication to community service and cultural preservation leaves a lasting legacy for future generations. Mrs. Christiana Nuamah’s life is a testament to the power of determination and service. As a leader, a dream maker, cultural advocate, and community servant, she continues to inspire and uplift those around her, leaving an enduring legacy for generations to come.

Christiana Nuamah, Director

Nana Yaa Yeboah, Director

Nana Yaa Yeboaa is a self-published author of books of poetry, short stories and children’s literature. As a storyteller, she engages people from diverse backgrounds to seek and understand each other. The knowledge she believes resides with us all and needs to share. Stories are what makes us human and with that, Nana tells and shares stories to form a community. She is also a festival organizer, her most recent one was with Ghana fest (www.ghanafest.ca). Some of her works can be found on Amazon and in bookstores in Canada. She lives in the small town of Brantford, ON with her two adorable children.

Nii Samoah Mensah, Director

Nii Samoah Mensah, a resident of Brant, Ontario, is a quintessential confluence of strategic insight, operational excellence, and human-centric values. His career, distinguished by a two-decade-long journey, has been a beacon for organizations seeking transformative change. As the helm of a successful Healthcare and Recruitment Agency, his management approach has reshaped traditional staffing paradigms, focusing on value-driven outcomes. His journey into Digital Marketing reveals a tailored, ROI-focused strategy that has resulted in unprecedented growth for companies in multiple sectors. But Nii Samoah is not merely a numbers man; he is deeply invested in the cultural fabric of his community. A patron of the Arts and Culture, he believes that these disciplines enrich human lives and offer fresh perspectives. Entrepreneurship for him is not just business; it’s about creating sustainable models that impact society positively. His analytical mindset, evident in his Business Analysis ventures, is always geared towards not just solving problems but adding value. In line with his professional pursuits, his personal interests are equally diverse, spanning from arts and sports to an unquenchable thirst for self-improvement. It’s not just about operational metrics for Nii Samoah; it’s about a broader life philosophy rooted in empathy, integrity, and transformative leadership.

Nii Samoah Mensah, Director

Tara Burt, Director

Tara has been working as an Arts educator for the last 27 years in a variety of Ontario communities including the Toronto DSB, Simcoe County DSB, Peel DSB, and now as the Director of Arts at The Bishop Strachan School. She has a lifelong passion for the Arts and believes that all students should be afforded rich opportunities to learn about diverse ways of knowing and expressing ideas in the Arts from all around the world. Tara is excited to serve as a Board Director for the African Arts Institute, and to support the growth of authentic African-derived Arts presentations, community workshops and concerts.

The founding president of the African Arts Institute, Dr. Isaac Akrong is an exceptional performer of African traditional dance and drumming. 

Originating from the Ga people of the coastal belt of Ghana, he was immersed in the traditions of his culture at an early age. His love of traditional music and arts led him to the University of Ghana, School of Performing Arts, where he completed an undergraduate degree. Isaac was invited to join the Ghana Dance Ensemble of the Institute of African Studies, Legon, where he continued with his learning and passion of traditional music, performing a multitude of different cultural dances.

Isaac holds a Master’s degree in Dance and a PhD in Ethnomusicology from York University. For many years he taught African music and dance at York University, Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. He has taught all ages, from Ontario Early Years Centres, elementary and secondary schools, post-secondary, as well as adults and seniors.

As a choreographer, master drummer, and artistic director, Isaac creates new works as well as maintains traditional music and dance through the African Dance Ensemble. The group has performed across Ontario, across Canada, England, and the USA. Isaac also founded Humanity in Harmony festival, which ran for three years, bringing together multi-disciplinary artists, academics, and community members in a celebration of our common humanity through the arts. Isaac Akrong founded the African Dance Ensemble (ADE) in 2001, to research and teach the roots of African traditional practice as an embodiment of social and ethnological phenomena. Group members practice dances and culture from across the motherland of Africa. Isaac has a strong commitment to sharing his knowledge of traditional dance and drumming with the world. As a researcher, he is determined to see African Arts expressions documented for future generations. “My goal is to propagate the message of African culture and explain everything possible about it. I am building on the knowledge that exists so that people will understand African music and dance more.” He believes that, as humans, “We sing and dance through our lives on earth and beyond.”

www.afridance.com

www.isaacniiakrong.com

www.africanartsinstitute.com

Dr. Isaac Nii Akrong, President

Christina Akrong, Administrative Coordinator, Secretary & Treasurer

Christina’s work combines her love of working with children and youth, education, and the arts. She is currently Education & Outreach Coordinator for Performing Arts at City of Brampton, Cultural Services division, where she oversees the Arts Adventures Education Series, Lifelong Learning suite of programs for all ages, Heartbeats co-op and intern program, and special initiatives. Prior to this, she held the role of Arts Education Associate Officer and Northern Arts Program Officer at Ontario Arts Council, where she Chaired the Deaf & Disability Arts and Access Committee, was a member of the Equity Committee, and Worker Representative on the Joint Health and Safety Committee. Christina has also served as a Program Officer (Casual) for Canada Council for the Arts. She studied Theatre at York University, and holds a Bachelor and a Masters in Education.

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