After an extensive immigration process, Shidaa Projects Inc. has sponsored professional drum and dance director, Samuel “Maama” Marquaye, from the West African country of Ghana to help expand their mission of cultural education and diversity. Maama arrived in the US at the end of September and immediately started participating in Shidaa’s drumming sessions, and has already performed in Vermont, New Hampshire and even Virginia . For anyone unfamiliar with Shidaa Projects, you may remember seeing the colorful team of West African drummers and dancers in Montpelier’s July 3rd parade for almost two decades. In 2020, with COVID-19 putting a stop to Montpelier’s July 3rd celebration, Shidaa organized its first Celebration of Community and Diversity on the Statehouse Lawn. Since that time, Shidaa has held two more Celebrations of Community and Diversity and became a 501(c)3 Non-Profit organization. Shidaa has participated in Educational Residencies in 40 schools across the state and sent shipments of donations to Ghana to support teachers and families in need there. Among other things, shipments included many bicycles and a computer donation from National Life Group helping to create a computer lab for the Bishops Gate International School in Kasoa, Ghana. In 2023 Shidaa held a successful three-day youth cultural camp spreading its mission of cultural education with hands on activities including drumming and dance. The vision for growing Shidaa and expanding its mission and outreach called for new energy and that’s where Maama came in. Samuel “Maama” Marquaye is an award-winning international master dance and drumming performer. While his recent arrival in Vermont is his first experience in the United States, Samuel has toured Dubai, Libya, Germany and Austria. He brings a wealth of traditional drum and dance expertise, and is a well-known choreographer, theater performer and comic actor in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. Maama has held leadership roles in a variety of performing groups, including touring Germany with an all-female Ghanaian band in 2022. He is excited to teach and perform with Shidaa during his time in Vermont. As a Central Vermont based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Shidaa Projects Inc. is dependent on fundraising through programming, applying for grants and the kind generosity of their community. You can learn more about Shidaa’s mission and future programming at: shidaaprojects.org , on Facebook or by mail: Shidaa Projects Inc. PO Box 442, Montpelier, VT 05601.