Moikgantsi Kgama, founder and executive director of ImageNation Foundation, will be honored this Saturday at the Reel Sister Film Festival

Moikgantsi Kgama, founder ImageNation Cinema Foundation, will be honored by Reel SistersCredit Courtesy Carolyn Butts

Moikgantsi Kgama’s parents moved from the Bronx to upstate New York when she was one years old, trading their gritty metropolis life for the more bucolic, suburban existence of Syracuse.

Although not uncommon for New York City families at the time, such a move for the young Kgama was highly consequential. Her family was one of but a handful of black families in her new neighborhood.

Kgama’s mother is African-American and her father is from Johannesburg, South Africa, and Kgama recalls how, as a child, watching the entire “Roots” saga made such an enormous impact on her life.

She was curious and creative and she connected with the arts. But she felt so little of what she was exposed to as a child ever seemed to reflect who she was. But the movie “Roots” was her first memory of seeing herself depicted in such an epic way on-screen.

“We watched it as a family back then, and it told the story that I wasn’t getting at school or at church,” said Kgama. “And it’s a shame that it’s not being shown anymore, because at that time, you really weren’t getting that story anywhere else.”

“After that, I was always searching for more outlets that reflected who I was that just weren’t there,” said Kgama.  “I was into artistic expression, so my friends and I got together and formed our own African dance troupe.”