A Celebration of African Culture

The pounding of drums and dancing flowed its way through the planetarium during our Celebration of African Culture event last Wednesday. The event, sponsored by the UW-Milwaukee Sociocultural Programming, Department of Africology, African Student Association, Africology Now, and UWM Black Cultural Center, took everyone on a tour of the sights, sounds and even stars of Africa.

Dancers from Viva Africa! treated guests to a West African dance known as Lamban right outside the planetarium. The audience was invited to join in on the singing.

After guests entered the planetarium, Sociocultural Programming Undergraduate Assistant Mikey Murry introduced everyone to Teju the Storyteller. While using drums to reproduce a human heartbeat, Teju talked about how we share the sky and we should focus on what brings us together rather than how we differ. The story was followed by compelling imagery of African people, cities and savannas as well as celebrations and sports that was assembled by Elise Murphy, planetarium staff member.

(Teju the Storyteller)

After another storytelling session from Teju, Jean Creighton took us on a tour of the constellations from three different latitudes: Egypt (30 N), Kenya (on the equator) and South Africa (30 S). The nightscapes included familiar constellations like Orion and Leo as well as a special appearance by the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds. Seeing the planetarium projector set to properly show the skies of the Southern Hemisphere was a rare treat.

(Peter Burress, Claudia Guzmán and Mikey Murry of Sociocultural Programming)

After the presentation, the dancers returned for a South African Boot Dance in tribute to Anti-apartheid activist and Black Consciousness Movement founder Stephen Biko. Guests also sampled traditional African bowls from 20|20 Catering.

We’re proud of the opportunity to immerse everyone in African culture. Thank you to everyone who made this event such a success.

Can’t get enough African culture? Then join us for our Stars Under African Skies Astrobreak series every Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. now until Feb. 22 where we will explore Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi.