Dance and drum workshop part of African Heritage Month festivities in Truro
TRURO - Tamara Desmond watched with excitement as an African dancer moved with grace and agility to the pulsating beat of drums.
The Nova Scotia Community College student was among a group of about 100 people at the campus Sport and Wellness Centre Thursday morning who participated in an energetic African dance and drum workshop celebrating African Heritage Month.
"I wanted to come here to enrich my culture for my children," said Desmond.
She said some of her ancestors arrived in North America on the famous ship The Mayflower, and has ties to Nova Scotia's Africville, but a great deal of her family's heritage remains a mystery.
"Today, I got a better view of the variety of cultures on the continent where I came from," she said.
"Our culture has been so diluted and this experience has shown me how rich my culture is."
Mufaro Chakabuda, of the Halifax-based Maritime Centre for African Dance (MCAD), feels the media's portrayal of Africa is often misleading, leaving people with the impression there is only poverty and sadness.
"It's Africa, there is poverty there but there is poverty here too," said Chakabuda. "There is happiness, people are joyous and proud of who they are."
Several spectators greeted and hugged Chakabuda following the two-hour presentation, which included a slideshow with snapshots of the dancer's traditional home community in Zimbabwe.
"As much as this is a dance and drum presentation, we really want to make it a cultural presentation as well, so you leave here with a better understanding of Africa," said Chakabuda.
Patrick Colley, resident's life co-ordinator for the campus, said celebrating African Heritage Month is ingrained in the campus society and helps draw awareness to its growing cultural and ethnic diversity.
"One of the things I think it's really important for people to know is Africa is divided into 54 countries, so not everyone in Africa is the same," said Cooley.
MCAD is dedicated to teaching, sharing and promoting African culture to children, youth and adults across the Maritimes and Canada. To date, MCAD has taught more than 200,000 children and adults in schools, community centres, camps and programs.