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Cultural Programs


17th Maafa Commemoration

Saturday, July 01, 2017 | 07:00am


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Ashé Cultural Arts Center proudly presents the 17th Annual Maafa Commemoration on Saturday, July 1, 2017, at 7:00 a.m., at Congo Square, Armstrong Park in New Orleans. The community, Essence Festival goers, and visitors from around the world are invited to participate in this sacred ceremony where we honor our ancestors. This year’s Maafa is labeled as “A Prelude to the Tricentennial” as we approach the city’s 300th birthday.

Maafa is a Kiswahili word that means “great tragedy” or “horrific tragedy,” referring to the period called the Middle Passage or Transatlantic Slave Trade. During that time, millions of captives from Africa were brought to the Americas where they were used as a labor force, persecuted, beaten, and many, separated from their families forever. 

Hundreds of people attired in white clothing will come together as one, gathering, primarily, to pay tribute to African ancestors who died during the Middle Passage. The ceremony includes multi-denominational words of healing, ancestral songs, a tribute to indigenous people of Louisiana, and the releasing of white peace doves. 

Drummers, musicians, Mardi Gras Indians and African dancers will lead the procession from Congo Square through historic Tremé, with a brief stop at St. Augustine Catholic Church, the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Slave. From there, the procession continues through the French Quarter, with pauses at Café Maspero, the Royal Orleans Hotel, and the St. Louis Exchange Hotel where slave auctions regularly took place and slave masters transacted business. The procession then continues to the Mississippi River where, amid high spirits, drumming, dancing, singing and praying, flowers will be released and ancestors will be honored by name, including deceased family members, and individuals who were victims of acts of senseless violence. Shuttles will be available to return participants to Congo Square.



Maafa Activities




Day Trip




Whitney Plantation


Wallace, LA




The River Road African American Museum


Donaldsonville, LA


June 26, 2017 | Time & Cost TBA




Community Dance & Drum Workshop with


Danys “LaMora” Perez-Prades’s Oyu Oro


Experimental Dance Ensemble from Cuba


June 29, 2017 – 6:00-9:00 PM


Ashé Too


1724 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA


Featuring Bill Summers, Alexey Marti




Inaugural Maafa Side by Side Exhibition


June 30, 2017 – 5:00-8:00 PM




1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA




Maafa Concert


June 30, 2017 – 7:00-9:00 PM


Ashé Power House


1731 Baronne Street, NOLA


Featuring LaMora, Oyu Oro, Bill Summers, Alexey Marti








Maafa Grand Griots


will be announced at the concert.

Support for the Maafa comes from Ashé Cultural Arts Center, the National Park Service, New Orleans Tourism & Marketing Corporation, the City of New Orleans-Office of Cultural Economy, and the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University. The Maafa is partially funded by the Kellogg Foundation (America Healing), the Ford Foundation, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. Sponsorship comes from Southwest Airlines, the official airline for Efforts of Grace, Inc./Ashé Cultural Arts Center.

Location 700 N Rampart St, New Orleans, LA 70116

Contact 504-569-9070


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