19th Annual Celebration of African Cultures Offers Music Dance, Storytelling, Talks, Games, and More

18 JANUARY 2008, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Music and dance of Africa and the African diaspora, storytelling,arts and crafts, timely talks, culture and cuisine—it all comes together at the 19th annual Celebration of African Cultures Saturday, 16 February from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. throughout the galleries of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The event, an annual extravaganza, is FREE with Museum admission donation ($8 for adults; $5 students and senior citizens; free for Museum members, children under 6, and PENNcard holders).

Music, dance and audience participation are always a major part of this dynamic celebration. Mogauwane Mahloelo, an accomplished artist who has mastery over eight African instruments, shares his music and knowledge of South African culture and history. Mahloele was born and raised under the apartheid system in South Africa. His personal experiences living through this social struggle has shaped his musical expressions. (11:30-12:30pm, Harrison Auditorium).

For those ready to get up and dance, the day offers several opportunities. Kenny J offers an introductory R & B line dancing class (11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Upper Egyptian Gallery), a sampling of dance in the African-American tradition. The performer/instructor is a lead dancer with the Dave Bush Performers, a Philadelphia-based R&B line dancing group, and founder of Sophisticated Funk, a competitive line dance group. Performance artist and dance instructor Chioma Acholonu offers a traditional Nigerian dance workshop, introducing dances from the Igbo-speaking region of Nigeria (1:45 to 2:30 p.m., Upper Egyptian gallery).

Two timely talks on pressing issues in Africa today provide greater awareness on life in Africa. Associate director of the University of Pennsylvania's African Studies Center Dr. Ali Ali-Dinar speaks on “Darfur: The People and the Conflict” (Rainey Auditorium 11:45-12:30pm). Dr. Ali-Dinar, grandson of Sultan Ali-Dinar, the last king of Darfur and president of Philadelphia's Darfur Alert Coalition, is devoted to helping the millions of civilians in Darfur who suffered during this ethnic war. His talk expounds on this conflict and touches upon David Eggers recent book, What is the What, the One Book, One Philadelphia Free Library book selection.

At 1:00 pm, Dr. Harvey M. Friedman, Chief, Infectious Disease Division at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Director, Botswana UPenn Partnership, presents: “Spotlight on Penn’s Global Involvement: The Botswana UPenn Partnership” (Rainey Auditorium). Dr. Friedman speaks about Penn’s efforts in addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Botswana, a country with one of the highest rates of HIV in the world. The partnership’s progress, Dr. Friedman attests, “has been exciting, rewarding and stimulating and has contributed to the reduced prevalence of HIV in Botswana and to enhancing the hopes of its citizens.”

The Women’s Sekere Ensemble, a group of female percussionists led by Omomola Iyabunmi, introduces visitors to the rhythms and tones of the sekere, a traditional percussion instrument of Nigeria made from intricately beaded gourds (Pepper Gallery, 12:00 to 12:30 and 2:15 to 3:00 p.m.).

Storytelling is a finely-honed tradition in many African cultures and Penn Museum's celebration features renowned storyteller Momma Sandi, a member of the National Association of African American Storytellers, who serves up stories, rich with songs, movement and rhythm (12:45 to 1:30 p.m. and 2:00 t o 2:45 p.m., Lower Egyptian Gallery).

The Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble, a celebrated local troupe that has performed around the country, offers the event's grand finale: a high-energy program with West African drum and dancing, acrobatics and an ensemble of more than 30 performers (Harrison Auditorium 3:15 p.m.). Prior to the finale, Pasha, the stilt-walker from the Ensemble, may be seen roaming among the visitors in the afternoon. Tradition has it that the stilt walker's identity must remain a mystery—the Ensemble will only say that Pasha is a fourth degree master black belt and a world karate champion!

Rashida Watson, owner of The Silk Tent, a mail-order distributor of international gifts, offers a talk, show-and-tell style on "Bark Cloth Designs from the Ituri Forest.” The cloth pieces, made by the Mbuti Tribe in the Republic of the Congo, will be on sale after the talk. (11:00 to 11:30 a.m., Rainey Auditorium).

The University of Pennsylvania Museum’s African Gallery features more than 300 objects from cultures throughout the continent, including renowned bronzes from the former Kingdom of Benin in Nigeria, dramatic masks, a wide range of objects used for everyday living, and a variety of musical instruments. Penn Museum docent Mawusi Renee Simmons presents "African Drums, Dance, and Ritual," a tour of the African gallery's musical instruments, (1:30 to 2:00 pm).

Activities run throughout the afternoon in the Museum’s Chinese Rotunda, visitors can learn to play the ancient African game of Mancala and create their own Mancala boards, at a special craft table. A craft table features mask making and coloring for young children. Lindsay Clarke, founder and director of Breaking Ground, a grassroots, nonprofit organization that creates sustainable, community-based, projects in Cameroon, provides information on their work abroad and an inspirational photo slide show.

Shop for unique African gifts and clothing at the mini-African marketplace, also in the Chiense Rotunda. From noon until 4:00 p.m. Rashida Watson from The Silk Tent displays African textiles, jewelry, and artifacts available for purchase. The Museum's Shops set up a wide variety of African masks, arts, crafts, games and jewelry, books and more on special display and sale by the Museum shops.

There's a taste of Africa included in the day, as the Museum Cafe serves up African menu items—including its ever-popular African peanut chicken soup—as well as traditional fare, all on sale through 3:30 p.m.

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind’s collective heritage.

The Museum is located at 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays and holidays. Museum admission donation is $8 adults; $5 senior citizens and students with ID; free to Museum members, children under 6, and University of Pennsylvania staff, students, and faculty with a PENNcard. For general information call (215) 898-4000, or visit the Museum's website at http://penn.museum.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS AT A GLANCE

11:00-11:30 "Bark Cloth Designs from the Ituri Forest" Rashida Watson Rainey Auditorium
11:15-12:15 R & B Line Dancing Kenny J Upper Egyptian Gallery
11:30-12:30 African Music: Mogauwane Mahloele Harrison Auditorium
11:45-12:30 “Darfur: The People and the Conflict” Dr. Ali Ali-Dinar Rainey Auditorium
12:00-12:30 Women's Sekere Ensemble Pepper Gallery
12:45-1:30 Storytelling with Momma Sandi Lower Egyptian Gallery
1:00-2:00 “The Botswana UPenn Partnership” Dr. Harvey Friedman Rainey Auditorium
1:30-2:00 African Gallery Tour: "African Drum, Dance, and Ritual" African Gallery
1:45-2:30 Nigerian Dance Workshop Chioma Acholonu Upper Egyptian Gallery
2:00-2:45 Storytelling with Momma Sandi Lower Egyptian Gallery
2:15-3:00 Women's Sekere Ensemble Pepper Gallery
3:15-4:00 Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble Harrison Auditorium

In the Chinese Rotunda - Ongoing
Mancala demonstration and playing (and make your own)
Craft tables: mask making and coloring
Breaking Ground: information table
Marketplace: The Silk Tent - African cloth, clothing, and artifacts
Museum Shops - African instruments, crafts, toys, books, more

In the Café - 10:00-3:30
African and international menu items for purchase

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, located at 3260 South Streets on the Penn campus in Philadelphia, is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage. For general information, visitors may call (215) 898-4000, or visit the Museum’s award-winning website at http://www.penn.museum.

MUSEUM LOCATION

3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-4000

MUSEUM HOURS

Tuesday-Sunday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
First Wednesdays: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Monday: CLOSED

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3260 South Street | Philadelphia, PA 19104 | (215) 898-4000 | Contacts

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