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22nd Annual Celebration of African Cultures—January 22

January 11, 2011, Volume 57, No. 17

Penn's African Rhythms dance troupe will perform at 3:30 p.m., one of the many activities at the at the 22nd annual Celebration of African Cultures at the Penn Museum.

Penn Museum invites families to an afternoon exploration of the rich cultures of Africa and the African diaspora. The 22nd annual Celebration of African Cultures features music and dance, storytelling, arts and crafts, games, cuisine, and more on Saturday, January 22, from 1 to 4 p.m. throughout the galleries of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

A PECO World Culture Day, the Celebration is free with Museum admission donation ($10 for adults; $7 for seniors [65+]; $6 for full-time students [with ID] and children [6-17]; free for Museum members, children under 6, and PennCard holders).

A blend of acclaimed local participants include evocative storyteller Momma Sandi, vocalist and storyteller Queen Nur, the Neo-African Drum and Dance group of La Salle College, and the Women’s Sekere Ensemble. The University of Pennsylvania dance group African Rhythms offers the grand finale performance.

Throughout the day visitors can learn to play the traditional board game mancala, learn about daily life in the Republic of Senegal, create artwork inspired by traditional African art at family crafts tables, and shop for African-inspired items at the Museum’s Main Shop and Pyramid shop for children.

Momma Sandi, a member of the National Association of African American Storytellers, who performs at 1 p.m., weaves traditional and original folk tales imbuing universal truths rooted in African-American history.

At 1:30 p.m., La Salle’s Neo-African Drum and Dance troupe offers a sampling of traditional and modern African drumming and dancing, using a dramatic start to their performance with seated drummers rhythmically playing as the dancers begin their energetic and fluid movements.

Also at 1:30 p.m., the Women’s Sekere Ensemble, three female percussionists led by Omomola Iyabunmi, will introduce visitors to the rhythms and tones of the sekere, a traditional Nigerian percussion instrument made from intricately beaded gourds.

At 2 p.m. Stories on Tour with Queen Nur features Queen Nur and friends in a rousing performance of songs and games from African American folklore and tradition. The audience is welcome to bring harmonicas to accompany old ‘tyme’ instruments such as spoons, washboards, and one-string base buckets. 

At 3:30 p.m., Penn’s African Rhythms student dance troupe performs a diverse mix of dances from West Africa, the Caribbean, and South America.
Throughout the afternoon families can create their own African-inspired masks, and make and learn to play the African game of mancala. Dame Diene, a native of Senegal and speaker for the Museum’s International Classroom program, presents his country through photographs, maps, and traditional art and handicrafts.

There’s a taste of Africa included as the Pepper Mill Cafe serves up African-inspired menu items, as well as traditional fare, 1-3:30 p.m. The Museum’s Shops offer a wide variety of African masks, arts, crafts, games, jewelry, books, and more.

Visitors can tour Penn Museum’s African Gallery featuring more than 300 objects from cultures throughout the continent, including dramatic masks, gold weights, a wide range of objects used for everyday living, and a variety of musical instruments.


Almanac - January 11, 2011, Volume 57, No. 17