Lylian Fotabong reports on a new initiative to celebrate African culture in the University of Limerick.
The impressive Irish World Academy of Music and Dance building at the University of Limerick (UL) stands tall among other structures and provides a space of celebration for African music and dance.
For more than 20 years, the Academy has been offering classes, workshops and performances in cultural practices from around the world, including Africa.
The Academy continues to place a high interest in African artists, music and dance and in an unprecedented move, it will, on February 27, begin a series of workshops entitled Taste of Africa.
The workshops are a series of interactive gatherings on African music and dance designed to further integrate African arts into the educational ethos of the Irish World Academy.
The Academy’s associate director Dr Helen Phalen said the events will be “amazing and all will be welcome”.
“The series comprises interactive workshops that focus on music and dance of different African regions and offer audiences a typical social evening as experienced in many indigenous African cultures,” Dr Phelan said.
She added that the first session will feature an opportunity for audiences to work with two internationally acclaimed African artists: O’dyke Nzewi and Rasmikey Courtney.
O’dyke Nzewi is from Nigeria and is a master of African classical drumming and author of several publications on African classical ensemble music, and currently conducting a doctoral research at the Academy.
He spoke of his delight with his work at the Academy: “I see my presence here as an opportunity for me to share my cultural experience with the Irish and international community in Limerick, and also to learn from the different cultures represented at UL.”
“Our conception of the Taste of Africa is driven by a desire to share one of the most humanising experiences of living in a rural African environment - the experience of community,” the postgraduate student said.
Another post graduate student at the Academy is also an internationally acclaimed African artist from America, Rasmikey Courtney. Ras is of Ethiopian origin and is a globally recognised dancer and choreographer, who is examining his experiences with the African Diaspora Hip Hop culture and contemporary dance as part of his work on the Masters in Ethnochroeology.
He said the concept of the “Taste of Africa” is to give everyone the opportunity to know Africa in a different light.
“Although many people have a general knowledge of Africa and its artistic culture, there is a lot that is unknown about the process of creation within African communities.
“These workshops will exemplify the individual influences in the creative process and the performance presentation, while exposing participants to the diversity of African music, dance and lifestyle.”
Admission to these workshops is free of charge to everyone and will be held once a month in the Main Theatre of the Academy from 6:30pm to 8pm.
The workshops are organised by the SANCTUARY initiative, which supports cultural activities of new migrant communities in Ireland. For more information, contact: 061-202917 or Irish World Academy.