African tradition comes to Omaha

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May 8th, 2011

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Omaha's Morton Middle School students playing African drums. (Photo by Angel Martin)

Omaha, NE – In West Africa, “La Calabasse” means the celebration of twins. And the African Culture Connection is bringing this tradition to Omaha next weekend.

At Omaha’s Morton Middle School last week, about 30 middle school boys played various types of African drums, while a couple dozen girls dressed in colorful, traditional African shirts, moved from side to side, clapping and jumping to the beat on stage. Displayed on the auditorium walls were student-designed African artwork.

For the past couple months, under the direction of Charles Ahovissi, these students have been learning about African culture in school.

Ahovissi is the artistic director and executive director for the African Culture Connection. And, on May 13th through the 14th his group will host “La Calabasse” – a story told through song and dance about the celebration of twins.

Student-designed African artwork displayed on the auditorium wall at Omaha's Morton Middle School. (Photo by Angel Martin)

“For some people in Africa, when you have twins that means you are lucky, and you will have good luck,” Ahovissi said. “You know, if you spoil these kids, they will bring you everything that you deserve.”

Ahovissi said everyone should understand African culture, the first home of early civilization. He recalled an African proverb that says if you don’t know where you’re going, then you must know where you come from.

“This is good for them to come and learn about African culture. We go to the schools and we educate children,” he said. But, in order “to educate most community members and to share the African culture,” Ahovissi said this is, “the right opportunity for them to come and see how we use dance and music to tell the story.”

“La Calabasse” will include a sampling of African food before the program begins. The celebration kicks off at 6pm Friday, May 13th and Saturday, May 14th at Omaha North High School.

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