Even as a young girl, she used to dream about Africa.
At night, tired after running around all day, playing games and making up songs,she would close her eyes and imagine the faraway land. She could seewind-swept deserts, lions stalking their prey in the bush and a woman in bright clothes walking to a stream to fetch water.
When she grew a little older, Queen Ayacodabae began to translateher visions of Africa into art and music. Her interest in her ancestral homeland also inspired her to learn several African languages andmusical instruments.
Next Saturday, Queen Ayacodabae is bringing her music, poetry, song and dance to Annapolis.
The 39-year-old Annapolis native is returning to perform a free 1 1/2-hour program at the Maryland Hall for Creative Arts, a finale for Black History Month sponsored by Helping Hand, a homeless shelter and outreach program.
"When they asked me, I said: 'Listen, I don't have any problem getting out there, because I have a message for people,' " she said. "I want to reach people and tell them they don't have to live badly to behappy."
Queen Ayacodabae moved to Trinidad five years ago, but returns to the Annapolis area once a year to lead children's workshops and drug-prevention programs.
She often teams up with her son, Darius Stanton, the youth coordinator with the county's Drug and AlcoholAbuse Prevention Program. An outgoing 21-year-old, Stanton has lectured thousands of school children and taught them to chant his favorite slogan, "Peace and Love."
In 1989, he helped his mother run a summer theater group to raise awareness in the Annapolis housing projects about drugs and AIDS. His mother later turned her attention to children's fear of violence and their sense of alienation in society.
Her program Saturday will focus again on children's concerns. Queen Ayacodabae, who only uses her stage name in public, said she also wants to emphasize "how African people need to retain their culture, to search for their inner selves and to stop trying to be anything else."
She will perform her original African songs and dances. Several children will join her on stage, including a 10-year-old girl, who will give a message on the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program; twojunior high students, and an eighth-grade singer.
In keeping withQueen Ayacodabae's beliefs in healthy eating habits, fresh fruit, juices and herbal teas will be served.
The show begins at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 29 in the New Annapolitan room at Maryland Hall. Donations may be made to Helping Hand.