Penn Museum’s 26th Annual Celebration of African Cultures
PHILADEPHIA, PA—African melodies and moves, along with tales, proverbs, artifacts, crafts, and cuisine from cultural traditions spanning the African continent, come together at the Penn Museum’s annual Celebration of African Cultures on Saturday, February 28, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. The festivities showcase acclaimed local artists and griots, including storyteller Queen Nur, Odunde 365, and the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble. 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 holders).ACTIVITIES FROM REGIONAL PERSPECTIVES FOR CHILDREN AND ELDERS
The Women’s Sekere Ensemble greets the day with the rhythms and tones of the sekere, a traditional Nigerian percussion instrument made from intricately beaded gourds, and an agogô, a bell with origins in traditional Yoruba music. Dedicated to the preservation of African music, the percussionists perform at 11:30 am and 2:30 pm.
Beginning at 1:30 pm, award-winning griot (storyteller) Queen Nur leads “Stories from the Motherland: An Interactive Storytelling Celebration,” accompanied by percussionist Yomi Jojolo. Queen Nur’s stories recall historical victories and celebrate folkloric traditions in a toe-tapping, hand-clapping experience. Guests can also learn traditional Nigerian folksongs during the presentation.Members of the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble offer a thrilling performance at 3:00 pm. The group, known for presentations representing Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, treats guests to an energetic finale.
At 1:00 pm, Habiba, international belly dancer, demonstrates folkloric and classical belly dances of Morocco and Tunisia, such as the Raks al Juzur (Pot Dance) and Raks al Maharem (Scarf Dance). Tunisia, a North African country, has a richly mixed cultural heritage, including Phoenician, Berber, Roman, early Christian, Islamic, and Jewish elements. The Raks al Juzur dance comes from southern Tunisia and celebrates the region’s pottery industry. The dancer must balance a water jug on his or her head as the tempo of the music increases. The Raks al Maharem originated as a flirtatious dance before adopting patriotic overtones in support of the independence movement. The Tunisian style of belly dance concentrates on sharp hip twists and is performed by men and women. All guests are encouraged to try to learn how to shimmy, hip-drop, and undulate in this fun workshop.MANCALA, A MARKETPLACE AND MORE
Throughout the day visitors can learn to play the traditional “board” game mancala, which originated in West Africa. Today, the game is called warri in Barbados, conka in Indonesia, and Swahili-speaking cultures along the east coast of Africa play a complex variation called bao. Guests are also invited to design a family craft with members of Odunde365.
An African mini-marketplace brings colorful textile prints, art, apparel, and wooden, leather, and bronze accessories available for purchase to the afternoon celebration.
Visitors can also stop by the Museum Shop to browse African-inspired and fair trade, African-made items.
The Pepper Mill Café also gets into the spirit, offering African-inspired afternoon snacks.
REFLECTION THROUGHOUT THE GALLERIES
“When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him.”
Visitors young and young at heart can join an African Proverbs Family Gallery Tour of the Museum’s Africa Gallery to learn about the brass weights of different shapes and sizes designed to weigh gold—made by the Akan peoples of present-day Ghana and Ivory Coast—and learn about some of the proverbs represented by some of the weights. Tours depart every 15 minutes from 11:00 am until 12:30 pm.
The Africa Gallery features more than 300 objects from cultures throughout the continent, including masks, gold weights, textiles, sculpture, and musical instruments. 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.
Annual Celebration of African Cultures 2015 Schedule
11:00 am – African Proverbs Family Gallery Tour (every 15 minutes until 12:30 pm)
All Day Events
Pepper Mill Café