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With a ribbon-cutting ceremony officiated by Aurora Mayor, Steve Hogan, the 56,000-square-foot building, filled with salons, lounges, African cuisine restaurants, art and clothing stores, along a busy East Colfax Avenue, opened its doors to the public.
The people behind the massive project–Cobina Lartson, a science educator at the Denver Public Schools, Emmanuel Eliason, business development director, Albert Quarteng, an executive officer of TMG Global, operating officer, Edward Mensah, and Seth Assabil, facilities manager, were joined by officials from the City of Aurora and Denver respectively for the grand kick-off ceremony.
This is a great opportunity to offer a place for not just Africans but also anyone from the community, Mensah told the cheering crowd.
“The purpose of this is to create a safe and educative place for others to come and learn of the African culture.”
In a speech in which he congratulated the initiators of the project, the Mayor spoke of the great asset that AfrikMall could become for the state of Colorado. Hogan mentioned the diverse culture of more than 130 different countries in Aurora. The message of community, diversity, and inclusion is what AfrikMall represents to the public, he said.
According to information on its website, the mission of Afrikmall is to create “community, culture, economic unity, to bring together people from Congo, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Liberia to come together as one for the betterment of Africa as a continent.”
“Afrikmall will provide training for entrepreneurs to enable business owners to improve their business practices. It is anticipated that by this effort Diaspora Africans would unite around our culture and commerce. Finally, we plan on starting a Diaspora African Organizations Credit Union, sponsored by Diaspora African Organizations. Members of such organizations can bank with our credit union,” according to Lartson, the founding CEO.
Anita Boakye Yiadom, managing director, said there are plans for a movie theatre to be set up on the third and fourth levels in the future. This idea is to bring about unity in showing American as well as African-produced movies, by providing the public with a place to showcase African culture through movies.
“We see the benefits of this mall being opened to help the store owners and to give back into the community by also providing jobs to the people. This is such a huge step forward for Africans, creating a space in the community to let people know that they are here and here to improve their own lives,” she said.
After the ribbon-cutting event, the question now becomes what is the future of Afrikmall, and what is there to be expected in the years to come.