Tawanna and Rico Chapman are bringing their love of African culture to Fondren, with the opening of their new business, Africa Book Cafe, on Mitchell Avenue. The shop, which sells books, clothing, fragrances and refreshments, will celebrate its grand opening April 16.
"We want to promote living well," Tawanna says. "That means keeping your mind lifted, your spirit uplifted. Also, being able to understand--it's so important to us--how what we put into our bodies affects the overall well-being of our bodies."
The Chapmans previously owned African bookstores on Bailey and Ellis avenues, but they were drawn to the Mitchell Street location because its size could accommodate more events. Tawanna, who sings in local group Eclectik Soul, plans to host a monthly concert series, called Unplugged and Up Close, which will invited local musicians to perform and discuss their art in an intimate setting.
The Chapmans both grew up in Mississippi: Tawanna, 31, is a native of Florence, while Rico, 36, grew up in Jackson. In 2000, after operating Mokgwetsi's Book Shop in Jackson, the couple moved to Washington, D.C., when Rico won a scholarship to attend Howard University. There he earned a Ph.D. in African history and a degree in museum development. The couple returned to Jackson in 2004, after a visit back home convinced Tawanna that the city needed their talents and knowledge.
"I didn't see enough young people being in a diverse environment," Tawanna says. "I didn't see enough young people reading. I said to my husband, 'We have to do something.'"
Rico currently teaches history at Jackson State University, while Tawanna homeschools their two sons Sizwe,11, Omari, 9.
Beginning April 16, Africa Book Cafe, located at 404 Mitchell Ave., will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information call 601-951-8976.
how wonderful!!!! What a great concept.
Welcome back and welcome to Fondren!
Congrtas Dr.Chapman and family JSU and Jackson is proud.
Very informative article. Can't wait to visit.