Com­mu­nity cel­e­brates African cul­ture

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - ELEANOR WENMAN

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.

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