There is no word in any African language that is equivalent to the English word for music, Wyatt Moretti-Dibo Elmo, a senior studying music production, said. Dance and music are a “longer form of expression” tied into the same thing.
The 7th Ohio University World Music and Dance Festival has been bringing students, faculty and locals face to face with the music and dance culture that is so exclusive to Africa, as well as with other countries from all around the globe.
“It’s really surprising how wide the span of styles and areas from around the world that they can incorporate into this one festival (is). I think it’s one of the best events that OU puts on,” Elmo said.
As part of the interdisciplinary event, there have been cultural lectures, symposiums and workshops on campus the past two weeks. Students and staff from more than 60 departments, programs, courses and majors have participated in the event. The festival will wrap up Friday with a concert in Templeton-Blackburn Memorial Auditorium that has been packed in previous years.
Elmo is just one of the roughly 100 people that have worked together to make Friday’s concert happen. He became involved with the event after taking the African Ensemble course taught by Paschal Yao Younge, a professor of music education. This semester is Elmo’s fourth time taking the course — for enjoyment purposes, not because of failure to pass.
Professor Younge has been accompanied by Zelma Badu-Younge, an associate professor of dance, in the planning and production of this year’s festival. It’s taken a collaboration of many sponsors, fundraising and lots of planning to bring the busy festival together.
“They’re not just people that live right around the corner. They’re coming all the way from the continent of Africa, and then also coming from Canada … Montana, Colorado, West Virginia, even D.C,” Professor Badu-Younge said.
The guest of honor at this year’s festival is the Honorable Abla Dzifa Gomashie, the recent deputy minister for tourism, culture and creative arts of Ghana. Gomashie visited classrooms and events throughout the festival and will be reciting one of her poems accompanied by music and dance at Friday’s concert.
Between 1,500 and 2,000 people were in attendance at last year’s concert that lasted about an hour and a half, Elmo said. By the end of the night, the entire audience was practically on stage dancing and playing steel drums with the performers — a spectacle he has never seen at any other event as an employee at MemAud.
“I think that this event in particular really does a great job … there’s so many good things and good representations of cultures that a lot of times tend to get either watered (down) or they get changed or mutated into a Western interpretation of said culture,” Elmo said.