African cuisine brings people together in celebration of Black History Month in Vancouver

With its African spin on vegan fare, Kula Foods is participating in the Black Market and the Black Love Series

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      In celebration of Black History Month 2020, all sorts of community events are taking place in and around Vancouver, from live music to lectures.

      A few will feature food and flavours from the African diaspora.

      On Sunday (February 16) and February 23, Afro Van Connect and Unit/Pitt Society for Art & Critical Awareness is hosting the Black Market. Taking place at 8EAST (8 East Pender Street), it’s a showcase and sale of work by artists, musicians, designers, and business owners of African descent and chance to connect with and build community.

      Kula Foods is among the food vendors participating in the fair, which runs from 1 to 4 p.m. Founder Asha Wheeldon makes Afrocentric vegan dishes inspired by the cuisine of Kenya, where she lived until migrating to Toronto as a teenager. Upon moving to Vancouver a few years later, and finding little in the way of food that reflected her heritage, never mind plant-based options, she started Kula.

      Kula means eat in Swahili,” Wheeldon told the Straight in 2019. “Our value is community, and we aim to bring people together through food.”

      In addition to offering catering services, Kula Foods sells a line of plant-based products through its website, including sweet and savoury pastry boxes. Its signature dish is Sukuma Stew, thick with red lentils and collard greens that goes nicely with fonio. A recent addition to its offerings is Pili Pili Pepper Sauce, made with the potent chili of African origin.

      Tickets to the Black Market are $5 or by donation; more info is here.

      All of Kula Foods' African-inspired dishes are vegan.
      Kula Foods/Instagram.

      Kula Foods and Afro Van Connect are also cohosting the Black Love Series: Healing With Food event. They’re joining forces with doctor of naturopathic medicine Dorian Holmes and Dora Kamau, founder of Bliss Your Heart, a flourishing wxmn's community. The event takes place April 2 (rescheduled from February 21), and it’s described as an evening of exploration of self-love, food, and wellness.

      “This event is a part of the Black Love Series that focuses on self-love and the importance of being tuned into our ancestral connections,” organizers say. “It recognizes the trauma, silence, disconnection, displacement, and marginalization of youth in our community. Through Hip Hop and spoken word, we express these connected dialogues of learning and growing through our open story sharing, encouraging our healing in brave spaces. Each shared piece explores our Diaspora Authentic Voices. It’s our aim to support and encourage the young, black and gifted to tap into their gifts and rise.”

      Wheeldon will do a cooking demonstration of simple dishes that nourish the body, mind, and soul, while Holmes is to lead a discussion on the healing properties of eating seasonal and ancestral foods.

      Community activist and artist Dae Shields founded Afro Van Connect Society in 2019 as a platform for young creatives to come together and express themselves.

      Black Love Series: Healing With Food happens at ArtStarts (808 Richards Street); see here for more details.