As the creator of the World Beat Cultural Center in Balboa Park, Makeda has dedicated herself to promoting, presenting, and preserving African and Indigenous cultures through music, art, dance, education, and technology. Makeda’s work building positive cultural awareness in the San Diego community is what makes her this year’s Women’s Hall of Fame Multicultural Bridge Builder inductee.
Makeda was born in Texas and at three months her parents moved to San Diego seeking better opportunities. While she did not have an easy childhood, she fondly recalls and appreciates the women in her neighborhood who served as mentors and fed not only her body, but her spirit. These childhood mentors filled her with the understanding that she came from a strong culture and had the innate power to be somebody.
At thirteen, Makeda knew she wanted to open a restaurant. While at community college, she studied culinary art and in 1971 she opened San Diego’s first vegetarian restaurant, the world famous Prophet Vegetarian.
Through her work at the Prophet Vegetarian, Makeda was a pioneer in promoting meditation and yoga in San Diego. In addition, the restaurant was a place where the community could come together and where cultural awareness was promoted. In 1985, Makeda sought to further expose the people of San Diego to local and global diversity; the result was the birth of the World Beat Cultural Center. The center serves as a place where culture, music, food, and dance from around the world come together in a learning environment. As Makeda explains, “It is a world within a building.” This “world” serves the community at large as well as at-risk and differently-abled children.
One year before opening the World Beat Cultural Center, Makeda created the Adams Avenue Theatre as a venue for music, dance, and film. Through this venue, she brought dance companies from South Africa, Nigeria, New Guinea, and Jamaica, as well anti-apartheid film festivals to San Diego audiences.
Makeda obtained her degree in Telecommunications and is well known as one of the few women DJs on 92.5FM and then 91X FM. Today she operates the 24 hour online station OneWorldReggae.com. She produces the World Beat Live show that runs on all four community stations.
Through her love and appreciation of the diverse cultures of the world, Makeda has promoted and educated the many communities of San Diego and beyond, truly embodying what it means to be a Multicultural Bridge Builder!