Rafiyqa Muhammad has been a consistent voice for social justice, cultural inclusion, and health equity in the Harrisburg community for over 35 years. Mrs. Muhammad, along with her late husband Ali, created Ngozi Incorporated, a non-profit, 501 ( c )3 organization that offered martial arts classes, an independent school for elementary-aged students, arts & crafts programs, and a stand on the Broad Street Market, which provided African clothing and artifacts. Ngozi was best known for operating the Annual African Family Festival, held the last Sunday of June in historic Reservoir Park, offering an array of vendors, entertainment, educational programs, outstanding community speakers, and political leaders. Ngozi Incorporated positioned Mrs. Muhammad as front and center and a significant voice in every segment of the Greater Harrisburg community.
One of the manly talents of Rafiyqa Muhammad is teaching urban agriculture to kids. For years she has dedicated a significant part of her life to learning how to garden and grow healthy fruits and vegetables. The passion that drives her desire for the garden is the realization that many residents living in urban areas need access to fresh produce. Too many residents, especially children, get most of their nutrition from local corner stores, which offer little fresh produce, but products that contain carbohydrates such as sugars, starches, and celluloses. The consumption of a high carbohydrate diet over a long period leads to diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, and many other long-term illnesses that can shorten the average life span of individuals.
Mrs. Muhammad is a certified permaculture instructor. She works with many organizations in the Harrisburg community, offering workshops through her Let’s Get Dirty! Urban Agriculture Center. Currently, she is working with the Camp Curtin YMCA’s urban garden program, where she provides hands-on workshops to youth, teaching them how to create raised garden beds and grow vegetables, such as kale, melons, and cabbage, and fruits, such as strawberry plants. She specializes in getting “Black hands into Black soil.” Her goal has always been to teach as many families as possible how to start their garden at home.
Mrs. Muhammad is more than qualified to fulfill her role as an advocate and instructor of healthy living and nutritional education. She has studied at the Eco Institution, an Earth sanctuary and learning community dedicated to healing the human-Earth relationship. She has served as a Consultant at Shady Nook Farms. She is the Former Acting Manager at the Broad Street Market Corporation. She also studied Business Administration at Harrisburg Area Community College. Besides her work as an instructor of healthy living and nutrition, Mrs. Muhammad is a noted African Dancer, entrepreneur, and events coordinator.
Shenita Baltimore, a graduate of Sci-Tech High, Princeton University, and the University of Delaware, said this about Mrs. Muhammad:
“Peace, Queen.” That’s how Mrs. Rafiyqa greets me… but that’s now that I am a woman. However, my earliest memories of Mrs. Rafiyqa were when she taught my mom, aunt, sister, and me in an African dance class decades ago. She performed with my sister and me for a school assembly when I was only in first grade. So, I’ve known her for a long time, nearly 30 years! I have called Mrs. Rafiyqa more than once with an idea for a community project (usually involving a garden or nature), only to have her tell me, “Oh, that’s a great baby! It sounds like something I’m doing/just did with….” That’s her – always on it, always moving and making things happen! So, she’s my go-to when I’m trying to care for my garden or seasonally maintenance my yard, sure. But she’s also a source of inspiration for achieving balance (in life and nature), committing to service, and having the courage to speak truth to power. In possession of the rare (and often misunderstood) gift of ensuring people know, with her, where they stand, Mrs. Rafiyqa also has a heart of gold and a sincere sweetness that not everyone has the blessing of encountering. I am so grateful to be one of those who afforded her gifts of kindness, realness, and generosity. I love Mrs. Rafiyqa, and our communities are more significant, robust, brighter, and safer because of her love, work, and Warrior Mother Spirit. Peace, Queen.”
If you want to contact Rafiyqa Muhammad, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.