Tuesday, January 8, 2008

WE ENTERTAINMENT – Aroni Awards Inspiring Youth

By Carol A. Allen

The Manifesto Organization received the Culture Award present by Divine Brown, Starting from Scratch and Tricky Moreira

An evening of inspiration filled Ontario Place's Atlantis Pavilion on Sunday, December 9th, as a diverse group of young people were recognized at the 2nd Annual Aroni Awards Gala.
The gala is named after the late Aron Y. Haile, a jazz-loving free-spirited Software Developer. He died tragically in a bus crash on December, 2003 while on vacation in his hometown Eritrea, East Africa, just days short of his 30th birthday.

Last year, Haile’s dream of having an awards ceremony inspiring Black youth to strive to achieve their goals, became reality. Brother Mesfun and sisters Helen and Lia, along with Harmony Movement, volunteers and sponsors, created a very successful inaugural awards ceremony.

Returning Host and Canadian Idol judge, Farley Flex, co-hosted with actress Elle Downs
A silent auction preceded the show which opened with a dynamic drum and dance performance by Ngoma. Vocalist Andrea Henry, Poet Boonaa Mohammed, Pianist Thompson Egbo-Egbo, Comedian, Jay Martin and Canadian Idol finalist Matt Rapley also entertained the audience.
Spoken Word Artist, Dwayne Morgan, performed a piece dedicated to Keegan Allen, who was senselessly shot in the head at a dance competition on Thanksgiving Day. He died one day later in hospital from his injuries.

Allen, an outgoing 18-year old, who loved to dance, was posthumously recognized with an “Inspire" Award for his eight-year involvement as a youth volunteer with Tropicana Community Services.

Zaqiya Tafari accepted an Aroni Image Award for Entrepreneurship. The 25-year old graphic designer, started his own company despite being a former gang member and high-school dropout. He turned his life around by volunteering with various organizations.
On receiving his award, Tafari stated, "It's a wonderful achievement because young people don't always get recognized. A lot of them are misguided, don't have role models and easily get involved in the wrong activities. I was one of them, but when I got into trouble and realized the impact it had on my family, I decided that I had to make some changes in my life."
He added, "we are more than just athletes and entertainment--we need to see more people in health and sciences. We have the power to empower ourselves."

Danavan Samuels, a Youth Advocate for more than 20 years, organizes the Toronto Urban Music Festival and the Irie Music Festival, which he co-founded. His award for ‘Community’ was presented by Cabinet Minister of Health Promotions, the Hon. Margarett R. Best.
The Manifesto Organization was awarded for promoting culture through their newly-launched four-day Urban Music and Arts Festival held in Toronto this past September.
Luwam Thomas, a bandleader, dancer and keyboard player received the Arts award and an award for ‘Sports’ was presented to Danny Fee, a member of several community sports initiatives.

Three $1500 Education Bursaries were given to Agapi Gessesse, Babakayode Fatoba and Fanieal Abraha pursuing studies in law, medicine and social work respectivelyConcerned that this event would be a "one hit wonder," Mesfun Haile was pleased with the turnout and anticipates that this will encourage people to continue to provide opportunities to acknowledge the youth.

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