‘CoMo Africa Fest’ gives students the chance to experience African culture firsthand | Education K-12

On Friday, students from Smithton Middle School gathered in the school gymnasium to learn about and experience African culture as part of the CoMo Africa Fest 2019.

Ayodele, an African dance and drumming group from Chicago, and Kenya Ajanaku, a professional African storyteller from St. Louis, were invited to perform and educate students at the festival.

CoMo Africa Fest is an annual event organized by Jabberwocky Studios, a dance studio in Colombia, and the African Graduate and Professional Student Association of MU. The festival is a two-day event with programming meant to both entertain and educate the community about African culture.

Ayodele performed an African dance to the rhythm of drums combined with chants and invited the students to join in the dance.

Next, Ajanaku performed for the students using an African drum called a djembe, accompanied by a fairy tale type story written for the children.

After the performance, three workshops were offered to seventh grade students as a prelude to the African history course they will take in April and May.

In the workshops, Ajanaku taught students how to play African drums. Velaphi Thipe, President of the MU African Graduate and Professional Student Association, shared his knowledge and culture about his home country, South Africa. A group of MU students from the association also taught an African dance form.

“If you are an African, this is your culture. If you are African American, this is a way to make the culture of your ancestors relevant to what you learn in the program, ”said Marc Alexander, chair of the Smithton Department of Social Studies. “And if you are not African or African American, this may open your eyes.”

Oakland Middle School is also participating in the CoMo Africa Fest this year.

A gala for the festival is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at the Missouri Theater. Ayodele and Ajanaku will both perform.

The editor is Kaleigh Feldkamp.

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