It’s not always the journey, but the destination in the end that can make a difference.
For a group of Historically Black College and University (HBCU) alum, that landing place happens to be the island of Barbados for the inaugural FABA Festival, a festival that champions Black culture like never before.
Known as the For Alumni By Alumni (FABA) Festival, the 2023 festivities took place in mid-June and offered an experience that allowed HBCU alum from various states to connect on an island that has strong ties to Black Americans.
“When I was thinking about hosting this, right? Wanting it to be a destination festival and then kind of looking at the landscape, it was important to me that when we’re celebrating Black excellence, we need to be in a place that represents Black excellence, right?” FABA Fest creator LaChanda Ricks told AfroTech during the event.
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“I think Barbados embodies all the things that we love so much about not only HBCU culture but just our Black culture,” Ricks said. “It has all the components. Not only the beauty, not only the strong, rich African diasporic culture with our music, with the food, but has people that are not only proud but beautiful and welcoming. It was just like the full palette to create a great experience for us. What was critically important to me is that we went somewhere, and we used it in marketing, it’s like, ‘travel where you’re celebrated, go somewhere where you’re celebrated.’”
With Barbados welcoming the festival with open arms, it was only right that someone with Bajan roots served as the sponsor for the event — Michael Mills, the owner of BAJAN 1966 Rum.
Championing HBCU Culture
“As a Black business owner, it was wonderful to welcome FABA Fest to Barbados this year and I look forward to participating in this festival every year,” Mills said.
The FABA Festival highlighted other Bajan businesses throughout and featured not only HBCU alum but Black business owners with Bajan roots looking to connect and enjoy all that the island has to offer.
Mills added, “As an entrepreneur in Barbados, FABA Fest presented an opportunity to educate attendees about the birthplace of rum and my brand, BAJAN 1966 Rum, while having loads of fun.”
Celebrating Black Entrepreneurs
He continued: “The purpose of FABA Fest really resonated with me, and when I contacted LaChanda Ricks and Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. [BTMI] to sponsor the festival with my brand, it provided me an opportunity to share my journey of success with others who may be aspiring entrepreneurs.”
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Although this was the inaugural event, Ricks has no plans of leaving the island quite yet. Instead, she aims to continue to spearhead strong relationships with the people of Barbados.
With everything from an HBCU college fair to celebrating the rich Bajan culture at the famous Oistins Fish Fry, and everything in between, attendees and members of the community were able to delight in it all as they await plans for next year’s FABA Festival.