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When I arrived Duke, I was appalled to find out that no African language courses were offered. There is a myriad of African based programs, from research and study abroad to service based like DukeEngage in Cabo Verde. There is also a decent amount of African students at Duke and many students who are interested in learning more about the continent through their majors like International Comparative Studies and Global Cultural Studies. So why did I have to take a 20 mins bus ride to UNC to learn Swahili? To address this need, I was inspired to create Duke Amandla Chorus, Duke’s first and only African Chorus, that seeks to educate and entertain its audience about Africa’s diversity through music. I found myself directing a choir of over 25 students from across the world, teaching and performing songs from various African countries in African languages such as Zulu, Xhosa, Igbo, Malagasy and Twi.

Leading an African cultural group showed me that even I, an African, knew little about the continent. I found myself learning more about the history and culture of various African countries in order to educate others and realized that a gap existed in my knowledge of the continent. I decided to teach the children at ICCA Lem Cachorro African a few songs from Amandla Chorus as part of their enrichment activities. I was amazed by their interest and excitement – many of them had never heard of South Africa or Cote d’Ivoire or didn’t know they were in Africa. I later created team building games focused on teaching the children more about the continent such as recognizing flags and locations of countries or learning facts. Through this, even I was also able to learn more about Africa’s diversity and its complex history. This experience taught me how important it is for us to know our history and more about the place we call home. I am pleased that through my activities, the children are learning more, and hope that they’ll continue to learn about their home in creative ways.