Left Continue shopping
Your Order

You have no items in your cart

Free Shipping | 30-Day Money Back

Blog / Freedom Seekers

We're So Excited and We Just Can't Hide It! Bravo Niagara:The North Star Festival

Zawadee - Bring Africa Home is pleased to announce we're going to be part of Bravo Niagara! - The North Star Festival: Voices of Freedom. Niagara-On-The-Lake - October 2-4, 2015.

Celebrating and honouring the courageous freedom-seekers who followed the North Star to Niagara - a terminus of the Underground Railroad, this inaugural festival showcases the sights, sounds, history and tastes of the Niagara Region's rich black history and African origins. Great music, fascinating history, mouth-watering food and a boat cruise down the Niagara River. Entertaining, fun and educational, this festival is a terrific experience for the entire family! 

Friday, October 2nd, 2015: Niagara Historical Society & Museum - 2 to 4 p.m. Free Admission Join us to experience local historian Dr. Wilma Morrison with presenters from Canadian universities, as well as scholars from the Harriet Tubman Institute to explore Niagara's rich black history and the courageous freedom-seekers who "followed the North Star".

Friday, October 2nd, 2015: 8 to 10 p.m. - St. Mark's Anglican Church Canadian Jazz Icon Joe Sealy performs the Juno Award Winning Africville Suite, with special guest Jumaane Smith.

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. - The Market @ The Village Food for the Soul - Free Admission

Bravo Niagara! and The Market @ The Village co-present “Food for the Soul, bringing together vendors of local chefs, food trucks, music, artisans, local produce, Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake and more in a celebration of the culinary contributions of people of African descent.

Subscribe to Zawadee Newsletter


Check out our blog about the fascinating Tuareg People and their ancient silversmithing techniques. Please stop by. We'd love to meet you. Saturday, October 3rd, 2015: 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. St. Mark's Anglican Church Nathaniel Dett Chorale - "Freedom Has a Voice" As a response to being enslaved during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, men and women of African heritage created spirituals, songs of sorrow, love, faith, and hope. Many of these songs were encoded with covert messages as a way to sing freedom into existence. The Nathaniel Dett Chorale is dedicated to Afrocentric music of all styles, including classical, spiritual, gospel, jazz, folk and blues and has shared the stage with internationally recognized artists such as Juno Award-winning jazz pianist Joe Sealy, singers Molly Johnson and Jackie Richardson, and opera star Kathleen Battle and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Sunday, October 4th, 2015: 2 to 4 p.m. Community Concert @ Harriet Tubman Public School - Free Admission Blues Sensations Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whitely Canadian blues icons Diana Braithwaite, a descendant of freedom-seekers who settled in Wellington County, and Chris Whiteley will perform “Sugar & Gold: A Musical Story of the Underground Railroad.” Students will display artwork inspired by Harriet Tubman.

Sunday, October 4th, 2015: 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Freedom Cruise on the Niagara River

Featuring Blues & Motown Legend Harrison Kennedy

The weekend will conclude with the inaugural Sunset Freedom River Cruise aboard the majestic Niagara Belle featuring Blues and Motown legend Harrison Kennedy. Join us on a musical and historical tour along the Niagara River, on the very water where many courageous freedom-seekers crossed and risked their lives to reach freedom in Canada.


"In its desire to celebrate, commemorate and examine the experiences of persons of African descent in Canada, the festival aligns with the 70th Anniversary of UNESCO and the 21st Anniversary of the International Scientific Committee UNESCO Slave Route Project: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage. The North Star Festival: Voices of Freedom will contribute to the ongoing work to unite the Niagara Region in a global movement of promoting deeper cultural understanding, peace and dialogue for current and future generations. 

P.S. Looking back at this blog, we seem to have channeled both the Pointer Sisters (or maybe Donna Summer?) AND Marvin Gaye.

No apologies. We were about to lose control and we know we like it! Comment if you know which songs and no peeking at the links first.

Read more

Spy? Humanitarian? Abolitionist? The Amazing Harriet Tubman

It's very hard to define Harriet Tubman. Her dedication and bravery overwhelms us. Born a slave, beaten and whipped, Harriet Tubman's devout Christianity allowed her to pray for her "master", despite his treatment of her. Harriet's finely honed sense of right and wrong steeled her resolve and ultimately she escaped to Philadelphia.

Harriet then returned to Maryland to rescue her family, bringing them slowly (one group at a time) out of the state. Harriet went on to guide dozens of other slaves to freedom. Code named "Moses", traveling by night and in utter secrecy, Harriet "never lost a passenger". After the United States Fugitive Slave Law was passed (in 1850), Harriet helped to guide freedom seekers further north into Canada - following the Northern Star to freedom. She provided further support once they reached freedom - helping them find work and settle their families. During the Civil War, Harriet worked for the Union Army - first as a cook or nurse, then as an armed scout and spy. She was the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the Civil War when she guided the raid at Combahee Ferry - liberating over 700 slaves. For over 11 years, after escaping herself, Harriet repeatedly returned to Maryland, rescuing over 70 slaves in about 13 expeditions. Such chutzpah that woman had! She employed a variety of disguises and carried a revolver she wasn't afraid to use! With a large bounty on her head, she had to be on constant alert.


After the Civil War and the emancipation, Harriet was told by a train conductor to "move to the smoking car". Sound familiar? A precursor of Rosa Parks! Harriet refused and told the conductor about her government/war service. Did he respect it? No, he cursed her and enlisted two passengers to force her and in doing so, they broke her arm. Despite Harriet's years of amazing service, she did not receive a pension for her Civil War services until 1899 and never received a regular salary during service. In her later years, she worked to promote the cause of women's suffrage. When asked by a white woman if she believed women should have the right to vote, she replied "I suffered enough to believe it". While promoting women's rights, Harriet worked along women such as Susan B. Anthony and Emily Howland. We owe an amazing debt to Harriet Tubman. Not just for her efforts to assist freedom seekers along the Underground Railroad but also for her war service, support of women's rights and her demonstration that free will is something to fight for and value highly. Look at the map below to get an idea of the vast distances these brave freedom seekers and their guides had to travel. At high risk, being sought by "law enforcement" and bounty hunters.


We learned so much about the Underground Railroad and the freedom seekers following the North Star at Bravo Niagara's North Star Festival: Voices of Freedom. Pencil this amazing three day festival into your calendar for next year. You won't want to miss it! Register for our blog to get updates on this and other events.

Subscribe to Zawadee Newsletter

Read more