Community celebrates African culture
A small African community is determined to make a big splash in Upper Hutt with a festival celebrating their food, dances and clothes.
Coordinator of the Luo community Jude Opira Bidong is one of more than 50 people from the ethnic group living in Wellington.
‘‘This community is defined by East Africans who live in New Zealand and Wellington especially.
‘‘We come from different parts of Africa: South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, all those countries,’’ he said.
‘‘We come together and we all share the same language.’’
As a rough estimate, Opira Bidong said there were more than 50 Luo people in the Wellington area.
Opira Bidong wanted the Luo people to reach out and learn more about New Zealand culture.
He has been meeting different people, including Maori, Tongan and Samoan groups.
‘‘We talk about who we are and what we are trying to do in the community and what we would love to do with the rest of the community.
‘‘We are getting to know each other and how we can work together.’’
To meet their neighbours and make those connections, members of the Luo community are organising a cultural festival, full of dancing, food and music.
‘‘We’re setting up the festival to be more visible, especially to the community in Upper Hutt.’’
Dancing in particular is an important part of Luo culture and will be shown off in style at the event.
‘‘When it comes to dancing, we dance when it’s joy, when it’s sadness, so it’s a way of coping,’’ Opira Bidong said.
Luo also perform war dances - ‘‘like the Maori’’ - and dance to send people off when they die.
Opira Bidong said they would be performing some, but not all, of their dances at the upcoming cultural festival and people would also be able to sample a wide range of food.
‘‘There are lots of things, lots of food, dinner meals and lunch meals. There will be different things that come up on the table.’’
‘‘All I can say is come and be surprised.’’
The Luo Cultural Festival will be held September 2 at Heretaunga College Hall. Doors open 3pm and entry is free.
Members of the Luo community will be showing off their culture in a festival to be held at Heretaunga College on September 2.