On September 13, 2008, something special happened in Minneapolis. West Africans in Minnesota staged the first West African Family and Cultural Awareness Day. The participating countries were Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo.
There were speeches--brief and just appropriate for the occasion. There were presentations about the various countries, which gave everyone a panoramic view of those countries, touching on history, economic, social and other conditions. There was a fashion show displaying West African attire, both male and female. There were informational materials for Africans living in the USA, on health, education, financial and other matters. There was food and music. Soeur Marceline gave a lively performance of her songs. I bought her CD, Jesus je te remercie.
The place was alive with activity and conversation, and the styles and colours of various outfits alone were a veritable feast for the eyes. Though billed as a West African event, it attracted people from far and wide.
I got the opportunity
to display my books and other writings and to talk with people about my work and theirs.
I made valuable connections with educators, people involved in cultural programs or working with African families, immigrants, and youths in various ways.
Staff from the Minnesota African Women's Association (MAWA), told me that they use my book, Matengo Folktales, http://www.lulu.com/content/136624, in their educational programs for girls. I have known MAWA for a number of years and greatly appreciate their work. Here is the MAWA website: http://www.mawanet.org/
There was much excitement when a troupe of young boys and girls took the floor with a vigorous performance of traditional dances. It was incredible to see these young people do African dances so well, considering that they live in the USA and were probably born here. What a tribute to the adults who raise these children, and what a benefit to the children. In doing such things, the children get an opportunity to showcase their talents and abilities and be appreciated and affirmed. Children need to be appreciated and affirmed, and these youthful dancers got endless applause.
This inaugural event was organized by the West African Collaborative (WAC) under the auspices of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches/Center for Families, http://www.gmcc.org/centerforfamilies/index.htm. Events like this affirm and foster the sense of community and enhance mutual understanding. The organizers and the sponsors deserve all support and gratitude.