With Black History Month winding down the Penn Museum is revving up for a celebration that can be enjoyed by all. Traditionally Black History Month goes as far back as slavery, which leaves many of us unexposed to the rich history of African-Americans that expands beyond the boarders of America. The Penn Museum looks change this by showcasing the deep African roots that African-Americans posses. So what better way to close out Black History Month than to bring everything full circle.
The 26th Annual Celebration of African Cultures kicks-off Saturday February 26th from 11 am – 4 pm. Guests will be treated to a rare cultural celebration that will have everything you can think of including music, dance, tales, proverbs, artifacts, crafts, and of course tasty cuisine.
The event kicks-off with an African Proverbs Family Gallery Tour which features more than 300 objects from cultures throughout the continent, including masks, gold weights, textiles, sculpture, and musical instruments. Tours will take place every 15 minutes until 12:30 pm. The Museum also includes the Lower and Upper Egypt Galleries with Egyptian mummies, a 12-ton red granite Sphinx (the third largest Sphinx in the Western hemisphere), and architectural elements from the Palace of the Pharaoh Merenptah, all ca. 1200 BCE, as well as statuary and tomb materials from 5,000 years of Egyptian culture. Basically it’s a look into the deep history of Africa.
After the tour the celebration continues with interactive activities such as a Tunisian and Moroccan Belly Dance Workshop with internationally acclaimed North African dance scholar Habiba, as well as “Stories from the Motherland: An Interactive Storytelling Celebration” with Queen Nur and Yomi Jojolo. Sprinkle in a craft making station and a Women’s Sekere Ensemble and you have a recipe for a great time.
The best part is that you don’t have to be African or African-American to appreciate this event. “It’s important to understand how much African culture has traveled the globe and influenced art, music and dance. For example, the rhythms of Africa have come to America and then returned to Africa as hip-hop, rap, and other manifestations of fusion. We have a tendency to think that cultural fusion is a modern thing but it has always been part of life.” states Habiba.
For African-Americans looking to explore their roots and delve deeper into their cultural background, this is a can’t miss event. Knowledge of origin and tradition is key to growth or as Omomola Iyabunmi of the Womens Sekere Ensemble puts it, “It is very important for African Americans to regain their cultural identity which includes language, spiritual connections, names, wedding ceremonies, funerals, rites of passage, and the installations of Queens, Kings and Chiefs. Their cultural identity includes dances, songs, and artwork that tell a story of the community. Every ethnic group has their connection, except the Africans who were displaced all over the world. Dancing, music and traditional cuisine is only part of the whole. You must begin to live the culture daily, by how you think and do things.”
The celebration is free with Museum admission donation ($15, general admission; $13, seniors [65+]; $10, children [6-17] and full-time students [with ID]; $2 ACCESS Card holders; free to children under 5, members, active U.S. Military, STAMP and PennCard holde.
Here is the itinerary for the event:
Annual Celebration of African Cultures 2015 Schedule
11:00 am – African Proverbs Family Gallery Tour (every 15 minutes until 12:30 pm)
11:30 am – Women’s Sekere Ensemble
12:00 pm – Folk and Modern Dance Workshop with
Anssumane Sillá, formerly of the National Ballet of Guinea Bissau
1:00 pm – Tunisian and Moroccan Belly Dance Workshop with Habiba
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm – Craft station with Odunde365
1:30 pm – “Stories from the Motherland: An Interactive Storytelling Celebration” with Queen Nur and Yomi Jojolo
2:30 pm – Women’s Sekere Ensemble
3:00 pm – Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble and Finale