BabaIfayomi
Arthur Ifayomi Karioki Riggins

In Memoriam:
Baba Ifayomi

 

Many people in the local DFW community simply addressed Arthur Ifayomi Karioki Riggins as Baba. Baba is a word that translates to “father” in many of the African languages and has a connotation of respect attached to a person’s highly valued social role and age.

Baba Ifayomi has been described as a magical teacher, artist, designer, historian and most importantly, a lover of the African people, with his legacy solidified in Dallas history for his amazing work in promoting African culture.

Baba was an activist who was committed to using African culture, art, and music to transform the lives of people within the DFW community. He was recognized as one of the pillars who started many events that promoted unity and peace.

Baba organized the Malcolm X Festival in the late 1980s at the South Dallas Cultural Center and the Marcus Garvey Festival in the early 1990s. He helped solidify the citywide Kwanza festivals and established the Harambee Festival as one of the ongoing staples of the Dallas community. The Harambee Festival is one of the area’s longest running cultural events in the South Dallas community that utilized the African culture as it’s guiding theme. Traditional African food, music and dance, historians and vendors are a foundation of the event. Harambee is a Swahili term for "coming together, pulling together, uniting."

Baba was also a spiritual leader in the community. The Dallas Weekly noted that he evolved several times in the spiritual arts moving through the Rastafarian philosophy and ideology and rising in the tradition of the Ifà, an African religious system of divination practiced throughout West Africa and the Americas.

Pakistani-born activist and Dallas Peace and Justice Center member, Hadi Jawad noted to the Dallas Morning News that Baba “was an extraordinary human being who touched hundreds, if not thousands, of lives in our community."

Though Baba’s life was tragically lost in a violent incident brought about by a young man he had mentored, he will be remembered as someone who always stood for “community service, unity, love and family.”

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