SERIGNE MARA DIAKHATE, PRESIDENT AND CEO (FOUNDER OF DA’ AFRICAN VILLAGE)
Serigne “Mara” Diakhate is a native of Dakar, Senegal, and currently resides in Los Angeles, California. He is a world traveler, entrepreneur, and PanAfricanist. Mara is also the CEO and founder of Da’ African Village which serves as “A bridge of togetherness” between the United States and Africa. His mission is to share the rich culture and traditions of West Africa with the rest of the world. He believes, if a person does not know where he comes from, then he does not know where he is going. This is why educating others by equipping them with the knowledge of the history, culture, and language of west Africa has become a part of his life’s work.
SUNNY MOORE, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, VICE PRESIDENT, is from Los Angeles, California where she is well-known in the conscious community as a social activist and dancer. Sunny also works in the film industry in production and as casting director. She is a world traveler and has been to various countries in South America, Africa and Asia, due to her political awareness and passion in global history and culture.
KATRINA D. JEFFRIES, TREASURER, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, GENERAL MANAGER, is originally from Columbus, Ohio, Jeffries has been involved in the arts in New York City since her arrival in 1982. She graduated with a BFA in Theatrical Design from the Ohio State University. Her artistic endeavors began in New York with work Off Broadway, a publisher and on to touring with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She went on to build costumes for Broadway, opera and ballet and worked in production in Film, Television, Dance and on Broadway.
Jeffries simultaneously sustained an artistic practice by continuing to educate herself at such distinguished schools as Parsons/The New School, Penland School of Crafts and New York University. Jeffries maintained a ceramic studio from 1997 until 2007 and sold her artwork at retail stores and juried craft shows. She has taught art classes and workshops in private studios, schools and museums. She now makes paper in her studio in Crown Heights Brooklyn.
In 2014 Jeffries completed a certificate in Art Collections Management from New York University and works with artists and collectors. She currently serves on the boards of fine art and music organizations and works as an administrator for Harlem Arts Alliance and Composers Concordance.
Ms. Jeffries began her journey toward Africa in the 90’s when she began to vacation in the Caribbean. In 1999 she made her first trip to Senegal and was Home. She has traveled to Senegal many times and has a great love for that country, its people and culture. She is very happy to be a part of Da African Village.
BUNAAMA DIAGNE, SECRETARY, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, WEBSITE ADMINISTRATOR, EDITOR OF WOLOF TIMES, is currently responsible for the maintenance of Mara Da African Village’s website and also helps promote its various events and activities. Buna was born in Indiana and raised in Senegal by Senegalese parents. He has lived for extensive periods of times in Senegal, France and the United States, and is multilingual as a result (French, English & Wolof). Buna holds an Engineering Mechanics & Astronautics BS degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and works full-time as an Aerospace Engineer for French US-Based company Zodiac Aerospace. Having relocated to Los Angeles from Dallas in 2011, Buna’s passion for the arts has led him to become actively involved in the local community and state’s cultural events. He promotes and covers various events and activies state an nationwide via his online publication Wolof Times (www.woloftimes.wordpress.com) which also staffs reporters across states. Buna contributes a sense of multiculturalism, social and political awareness to our organization to help further strengthen the bond between Africa and its Diaspora.
JORDAN DIANDY, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, COORDINATOR, is originally from Senegal, West Africa, Jordan studied 4 years on a full ride scholarship for Basketball. He has a Bachelor degree in International Business from Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California. Jordan also speaks three European languages: French, Spanish and English as well as two African languages: Wolof and Diola. Jordan helps coordinate various events for Mara Da’ African Village and also conducts educational presentations on Senegalese culture.
ELISANGELA “DANDHA DA HORA” SOUSA, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, was born and raised in Salvador, Bahia, and has been a member of Ilê Aiyê – one of Brazil’s most important musical and cultural institutions – since she was six years old. As a lead dancer with Ilê Aiyê, Dandha has shared the stage with Brazilian artists such as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and Daniela Mercury. Also with Ilê Aiyê, she has been teaching dance and AfroBrazilian arts for over 20 years, including programs with at-risk youth, and dance workshops all over the world. Based in Santa Cruz, CA since 2003, Dandha teaches dance workshops and lectures on AfroBrazilian culture all over the U.S., and performs as lead singer with the band SambaDá. She is also on the Board of Directors and an active program coordinator for the 501(c)3 non-profit organization Da African Village.
ROBERTA OCRAN is our new intern. Roberta lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She was selected as our first intern because she was born in Africa and raised in America. Therefore, she has a unique understanding of the mission of Da’ African Village. Roberta is a hard worker and will be a wonderful addition to the team. Please welcome her as she joins us at A Touch of Africa in Santa Cruz this year. Here is what Roberta says about her experience with us:
“I look at Da African village as a great example of what I’ve always enjoyed doing, educating others about African culture. Being born in Ghana and raised in America has given me the opportunity to experience the pros and cons of both cultures. One of the things I really appreciate about Da African Village is they have taken it further than just words. They’ve included the arts, dance and tourism which reminds me of the old saying “I can show you better than I can tell you”. There is a hands-on experience I see happening here that offers more than any video or textbook could ever offer. I am honored to be a part of this mission. I can’t wait to bring my Ghanaian roots to the mix and share knowledge with my fellow friends and family. “