Planned in order to reach the African immigrant community in D.C. and increase the awareness of the Museum, the event turned out to be a smashing success. More than 900 people attended the first event and the after party had about 350 people in attendance. The World Cup party was the first in a series of events made possible by a grant from the Kellogg Foundation. Led by its incomparable Director, Dr. Johnnetta Cole, the Museum plans to hold a film conference on Islam, a cuisine event, and a writers and poet’s evening. In addition, Dr. Cole and her staff are establishing an advisory council, to welcome members from African churches and the greater community in D.C. into the Smithsonian.
The reception featured a pair of DJ’s spinning many of the latest hits from the continent accompanied by live drumming, and four food stations on two levels. Playfully distributed, the food on the first level was South and North African cuisine. On the second level, the food featured East and West African dishes. Offering everything from South African
Frikadelle (Meatballs) to Liberian Nkontobre (Palaver sauce); the food was absolutely wonderful, and guests enjoyed the South African liqueur Amarula. The museum galleries were open and I took some time to explore them. The mesmerizing video installation by South African artist Paul Emmanuel caught my eye with its thought provoking exploration of nationhood and masculinity. I also really liked a mask on display from the Boki peoples of Nigeria
in the Walt Disney – Tishman collection that for me invoked thoughts about hairstyles over the ages. But I digress… The night culminated in a raffle drawing sponsored by South Africa
Airlines for a trip for two to South Africa
. I didn’t win. But the look of pure joy on the winner’s face made everybody feel like a winner. It was truly a great night.
I hadn’t been to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art before but I really liked what I saw in the galleries, the interactive touch screens filled with interesting facts about Africa, as well as the impressive gardens and architecture of the museum itself. I wholly encourage anybody who finds themselves in Washington, D.C. to visit this institution.
About the Author: Yakubu Budu-Saaka is a political science graduate of Oberlin College and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in media studies at the New School University in New York City. He has experience in finance as an equity analyst for Balyasny Asset Management, a hedge fund, and is currently exploring ways to use media as a primary tool to further the development of the African continent.