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A NIGHT OF CULTURE, SHARING AND INSPIRATION

May 31, 2015




People are different in many ways. The differences can be seen in the food we eat, the clothes we wear, color of our skins, the language we speak and many more. However, it is often a bit difficult to associate a group of people dancing or performing a piece of music with a particular ethnic group or nationality perhaps as a result of certain features they have in common. Music, it is often said is universal. This was perfectly enacted when participants attending the seminar on ‘Youth at Risk’ that was organized by MASHAV (2015) had their cultural performance on the evening of May 21, 2015. Indeed, it was an opportune time for participants to refresh themselves through a variety of performances put up by the different people who had been invited from the different countries. The twenty-four participants came from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe.

In preparing for the special night, individuals and groups had to practice in their hotel rooms and other places suitable to be worthy cultural ambassadors for their respective countries. The appropriate costumes and pieces of music to be performed were equally put together.

Representatives from each country had a table to display their souvenirs and their national flags for identification. All was set for the cultural night. The two princesses from the Kingdom of Swaziland were the curtain raisers. They put up a titillating performance. Their dressing was unique, their royal voices soothing and their majestic steps a delight to watch. A team from Asia that comprised India, Myanmar and Philippines was next to perform. Meghna from India was gorgeous in her traditional Indian saree outfit. She entertained all gathered with her calculated steps to resonate with the song that was played by the DJ for the night Mr Damian Filut; Coordinator of the training course. The trio was up to the task judging from the applause they received from the audience.

Nory, the sole representative from Latin America was the next to perform. Her multi-colored sweeping dress was symbolic of a Colombian festive occasion. Though she was single on stage, she was able to get the admiration of the audience with her song in Spanish Guabina Santandereana.


 

It was the turn of Ghana, the only country from West Africa. Ghana had four participants; George Ayeriga Azeriya, Charles Annobil, Faustina Boama-Yorke and David Amanor Asilevi. The Ghanaian group added a bit of flavor by singing the National Anthem of their country, others stood as sign of respect. Faustina who led the group exhibited dexterity and versatility in all the four different dances we performed. We began with boborbor and agbadza dance by the Ewes, apatampa by the Fantes and recessed with takai by the Dagombas. A standing ovation was given to the quartet for their array of dances.

A “federation” made up of Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe was the next to be invited to stage by the MC for the programme,  Kristina from Belize. The squad led by Carthbert from Uganda was mesmerizing. You could simply not resist lifting a leg or raising an arm to the kadoli song they carefully selected for the DJ to play. Most people joined to dance to the good tune and rhythm. Indeed music is universal and strangers to the piece of music danced equally well. The team ended their performance with another exhilarating piece of music from Ethiopia. This was a piece that one needed the concentration of a student in the classroom and the agility of an acrobat on stage to move with the rhythm.


It is important to note that this was a platform for all to showcase the culture of their countries. The land mass or the population of a country did not matter. The next to appear on stage were two representatives from the small island of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Jackie recited a poem that extolled the beauty of the island while Dianne treated the audience to a calypso; a type of music that originated from the West Indies. The two ambassadors were splendid in their attires that depicted the national colors of the country; blue, green and yellow. A representative from Barbados followed. Barbados is also a small island. Juanita sang a song in the form of a lyric to portray the beauty and hospitality of the people of the island. The MC did not forget to give a bit of the Belizean culture to her colleagues by performing a dance and singing a song.

The lone representative from Europe, Ersin from Turkey was next on the bill to perform. He danced to the Gokertme music.


 

The last group to perform was representatives from Kenya led by Lydia. They displayed attention-grabbing and unforgettable moves and gestures. Kenya is country rich in culture and tradition. Betty epitomized the traditional Kenya woman in her attire. With the song Akuna Matata all danced as if they were possessed by spirits.


The night of music and dance could not have ended without a taste of an Israeli dance. Damian who took part in most of the dances gave some few minutes tutorials on how to perform an Israeli dance. That was it. All danced like Israelis.

The second part of the programme followed with the sharing of souvenirs and tasting some delicacies from some of the countries. Indeed, it was a night of sharing. We shared songs, dances, pastries, sweets, pictures, souvenirs, laughter and many more. Sharing is inspiring; the slogan of MASHAV was personified at the cultural night. Many sweet memories may fade away but the cultural night would surely linger on in the minds of many alumni of the Youth at Risk group MASHAV 2015, many years to come. In the words of Henry Ford “coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, and working together is success”. This is the message all should remember as we end the seminar and get back to our various countries to implement what we have learned.

Shalom.


By George Ayeriga Azeriya

GHANA