The culture and style of Africa were showcased at St. Ann Center’s Bucyrus Campus as part of a month-long celebration of Black history. African drums summoned adult clients, day care children, volunteers and staff to the intergenerational park on Friday, Feb. 3. Keeping the beat were two young drummers from the Ko-Thi Drum Ensemble—Christian, 17, and his cousin Judah, age 4.
Starting off a fun-filled fashion show were the 2-year-old Meerkat class. Evan stepped out in a loose, colorful tunic from West Africa known as a dashiki. Next came Kingston sporting a green kofia—a brimless cylindrical cap with a flat crown, worn by men in East Africa. Harper was beautiful in her wrapped dress and gele—a head tie worn in many parts of southern and western Africa. Tariyah turned heads with her cheetah-print lappa, a garment worn by women in West Africa. Kamilah was stunning in a black head tie, and Edwin rocked a kanzu—a robe worn by men in the African Great Lakes region.
St. Ann Center staff came next. Nurse Annie Smith modeled a gold-trimmed midi dress in deep purple—the color of royalty, nobility, kingship and creativity. Steven Anderson from the Ubuntu Unit sported a bright blue tunic from Nigeria, a formal garment he wore as best man in a friend’s wedding. Lucille Armstrong from our Social Work department wore an orange kitenge from Nigeria—a garment similar to a sarong. Joyce Davis, Vice President of Adult Services, was striking in a flaring mermaid-style dress in canary, blue and burgundy, handmade for her in Tanzania.
Marie Britt, our receptionist, demonstrated some dance moves while modeling a green dress with colorful red and yellow accents and matching head wrap. Sr. Brigid Mueni from the Simba Unit wore a patterned maroon dress made in Kenya and a broad-brimmed white hat, perfect for summer strolling. Volunteer storyteller Lois Reddick showed off a black vest decorated with Bantu silhouettes.
Diane Beckley, Bucyrus Campus Chief Operating Officer, wore a traditional Cameroonian dress made for her when she visited that country on a mission trip last fall. The blue and beige fabric has a waxed covering that is rain-resistant and suitable for Cameroon’s climate. She carried a matching dress on a hanger, made for her granddaughter, Lai’ Elle.
Volunteer Michelle Woodard communicated the importance of spirituality to the African American culture, singing “How I Got Over.” This beloved spiritual was performed by Mahalia Jackson at the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 before 250,000 people.
The program wrapped up with children and adult clients coming forward and joining in the fashion show finale. Some wore African-inspired garb, others their Sunday best or more comfortable attire. Summing up the spirit of the event, Activity Coordinator Wanda Gray said, “Culture does not make you…you make culture.” And St. Ann Center is creating a beautifully unique intergenerational culture on a daily basis.