Eric Feuerborn

Africa's Development, Culture, Music Featured in Two Events at USAO

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's the second largest continent on the Earth and contains 53 different countries. In those countries, there are at least 3,000 distinct ethnic groups and more than 2,000 languages spoken. On March 4-5, the USAO Symposium on Africa and the Festival of Arts and Ideas will present a snapshot of this diverse continent.

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Faculty, staff, students and special guests at the University of Science and Arts are scheduled to present two events in two days highlighting the development, arts, culture and influence of the African continent.

The look at Africa begins with the Symposium on Africa scheduled March 4 from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Davis Hall Choir Room on the USAO campus. This academic forum will lead into the evening with the first night of the Festival of Arts and Ideas at 7:30 p.m. in the USAO Student Center Ballroom with a look at Native African Arts and Culture with music and presentations.

The music and presentations continue March 5 when the festival focuses on African Influence in America at 7:30 p.m. in the Ballroom. All the events are free and open to the public. The Symposium on Africa and the Festival of Arts and Ideas are organized by the USAO sociology and music departments in partnership with Global Action for Aid and Development, Inc. and is sponsored by the USAO Foundation, Inc.

This year marks the third annual Symposium on Africa, a multidisciplinary examination of issues in African development. The symposium will feature speakers from several Oklahoma universities.

"The purpose of the symposium is to provide information on African issues and provide the basis for research to students and members of the Chickasha community," said Stephen Kandeh, associate professor of sociology at USAO. "In a globalizing world where everyone is connected to everyone and everything, in a world where the essence of Africa can no longer be relegated to the insignificant, it behooves us to learn accurate information about the continent."

The symposium features several academic presentations by Africanist scholars. Among them are John Mooney, professor of history at the University of Oklahoma, discussing how Africa’s past can be employed to fix its modern problems; Roger Merkel, professor of agricultural engineering at Langston University, addressing development in Africa as an imperial project; Dr. Ginger Elliot-Teague, professor of political science at OU, examining the role of education as a tool for developing Africa; Betty Harris, a professor from OU, will be dissecting the developmental impact of China’s foreign investment policy in Africa; Abimbola Asojo, also from OU, looking at African architecture as a development asset; and professors Edward and Bernard Manyibe, who will critically inspect the ethical dimensions of African development.

The festival begins Thursday evening with a look at Native African Arts and Culture. Presentations include a traditional African fashion show and a dramatic performance by the USAO African American Club. Teacher, writer and percussionist Jahruba is scheduled to present African Drumming and Storytelling. Jahruba is an African-American who has been a professional musician for more than 50 years. His music is a unique blend of blues, jazz, worldbeat, reggae and traditional African rhythms.

Artist Sohail Shehada is scheduled to present Traditional African Art. Shehada is a professor, Figurative Sculpture Program, School of Art, University of Oklahoma. Melanie Bratcher, a professor in OU's African and African American Studies Program, is scheduled to speak on African dance.

Music for the evening includes Contemporary African Piano performed by Stephen Weber, associate professor of music at USAO. The USAO Concert Choir is scheduled to present Traditional African Music. The Concert Choir is under the direction of Jan Hanson, professor of music at USAO. Concluding the evening's music is a performance of Contemporary African Music by Gloria and Joana Kandeh.

USAO's look at Africa concludes on Friday night with African Influence in America. Tonnia Anderson is scheduled to speak on African-American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. Anderson is editor of multicultural activities for Crosstimbers and teaches creative writing and English at USAO.

Dan Hanson, professor of music at USAO, is scheduled to present African Influence in Music; while Jeannette Loutsch, assistant professor of biology at USAO, will present African Influence in Science.

Music for the final performance includes Scott Joplin, performed by Rhenada Finch, coordinator of the festival and staff accompanist at USAO; Fats Waller, performed by Joshua Smith, a USAO music major from Blanchard; Duke Ellington, performed by Joe Settlemires, USAO guitar instructor and director of the USAO Showband; Dorsey Hymns, performed by a USAO vocal quartet; Contemporary Pop, performed by Corey Coles, a biology major from Oklahoma City; and Dizzy Gillespie, performed by the USAO Vocal Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Ken Bohannon, associate professor of music at USAO.

Refreshments will be served each evening after the festival.