African Culture Week to Feature Grammy-Nominated Musician
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Illinois Wesleyan University will celebrate African cultures and
traditions during African Culture Week, Nov. 5-10. The annual celebration will include
a series of events tied to African culture, including a master class with Grammy-nominated
musician from Mali, Cheick Hamala Diabate, on Nov. 9 from 11-11:50 a.m. in Presser
Hall Room 258.
“Celebrating African cultures is an important way to highlight the significant contributions
the amazing peoples of the African continent have made to life on our planet: vibrant
music, scintillating fashion, scrumptious cuisine and brilliant artistic media,” said
Professor of Anthropology Rebecca Gearhart Mafazy, whose research focuses on non-western
music and dance performance traditions primarily in East Africa.
Angelo Kakande, senior lecturer of ceramics and art history at Makerere University
in Kampala, Uganda, will kick off the week with a talk, “Speaking Through Kings?”
on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. in the Beckman Auditorium of Ames Library. An artist and art historian
with an interest in law and human rights, Kakanade is also Senior Research Associate
at the Department of Fine Art at Rhodes University, where he focuses on the ways in
which art functions in the defence of individual and collective rights. His talk will
focus on artists and the portrait of traditional kings in Uganda.
Students will celebrate African rhythms on Tuesday, Nov. 6, during an African Drum
Jam from 12-12:45 p.m. in the Dugout in the Memorial Center. The event will feature
an array of African drums and percussion instruments for students to play.
On Nov. 8, an African Beading Party will take place from 4-7 p.m. on the second floor
lounge in the Center for Liberal Arts. Participants can purchase and select from a
wide assortment of beads, including hand-painted Kazuri beads made by a women's coop
in Nairobi, Kenya, known for making beaded jewelry. Refreshments will also be served.
A renowned Griot – storytellers of West African history – Diabate shares the oral
history, music and song of his culture through the ngoni, a Malian traditional instrument
and ancestor to the banjo. Having performed internationally and at venues such as
the Smithsonian Institution and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,
Diabete has long explored the connection between America’s traditions and his own
griot roots. His music embraces the traditions of the griot, and the sounds he discovered
in America. His collaboration with banjo player Bob Carlin in 2007, “From Mali to
America,” led to a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional World Music Album.
Diabete and his band will conclude the week with a concert on Saturday, Nov. 10 at
5:30 p.m., in the Memorial Center’s Young Main Lounge. The event will also include
African food and entertainment by the African Students Association (ASA).
All events are free and open to the public. The events are sponsored by International
Studies (African Studies Program), ASA, The Sociology and Anthropology Department,
The School of Music, and the School of Art.