TV Series Explores International Avenue’s African Community


“There are a lot of good things happening on International Avenue,” says filmmaker Sylvester Ndumbi, “and we need to share that with other Canadians. I want to play a part in that.”

To that end, Ndumbi, co-producer of the thrice-weekly show Afro X which airs on Omni TV, spends a good deal of time on the Avenue, filming segments which highlight its Afro-Canadian artists and entrepreneurs.

“I see myself as a storyteller,” says Ndumbi, “telling stories through technology. I want to bring their stories to life. I want to highlight their entrepreneurial spirit. Can you imagine coming to a new place and having the courage to open a business? To make something from nothing?”

Thirty-nine-year-old Ndumbi’s own story started in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he was born. He lived in DRC and Zambia until he immigrated to Canada in 2004. He then enrolled in Business Administration at Mount Royal College, but after completing the program, found that his true passion was film. Although he is largely self-taught, the award winner has also spent time in Los Angeles taking classes and, as he says, “Keeping a lot of contact with the big dogs in LA.”

Through the years Ndumbi has worked on many public relations videos, as well as documentaries, including the recently debuted documentary series Motherland. His focus now, however, is on telling the story of the African community in Calgary.

Although Afro X only began airing in September of 2015, Ndumbi and co-producer Phina Brooks have already featured several International Avenue businesses on the show, including Awtar Mediterranean Cuisine, Great Tel Mobility and The Barber Centre. The cameras were also rolling as International Avenue unveiled its latest mural, a tribute to African people and cultures by artist Sisay Shimeles.

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Sisay Shimeles’ African Mural was unveiled in October 2015 to the public

“There are a lot of things happening on International Avenue. So far, time and resources haven’t allowed it, but in the future I would like to do a weekly segment on International Avenue. We could showcase the products… something specific that you would probably only find on 17the Avenue.”

Each weekly show has four separate segments, allowing for less expensive and possibly more targeted advertising by businesses between the segments. Ndumbi feels it is a great way for smaller businesses to get more exposure.

“The mainstream media can’t give them the same exposure. Usually they show the area in a negative way that keeps people away. I can see great things for this area and I’m happy to play my part. I want to get people to go there and find all the great stuff that’s happening there.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a labour of love. The doors are open for people who want to work with us,” says Ndumbi.

Afro X airs three times a week on Omni TV: Mondays at 8 am; Wednesdays at 9:30 am; and Saturdays at 8:30 am. For more information visit the website at afroxcanada.com.