African Awareness Month may have come to an end today, but, at the Vauxhall Primary School, African consciousness will live on.
That’s because at that school African awareness is not constricted to the month of February; it is taught and expressed year-round.
This afternoon at the Vauxhall, Christ Church school, amid songs of celebration, festivities coordinator Ian Marshall told Barbados TODAY that integrating African concepts into the school’s teachings had drastically assisted the students. He explained that this not only armed them with knowledge of the motherland but also gave them a sense of self-worth.
“It is teaching them to be proud of who they are, to love themselves and be aware of their African identity, their complexion, how their outlook impacted their self-esteem. So we teach them to value themselves through knowledge of their history, knowledge of their culture and the knowledge of our people.
“ . . . And they are comprehending this to an extent where a number of the social vices have been eliminated or downplayed. Things like bullying we don’t get here. Self-esteem issues –– a lot of those things would be minimized because of the approach that we have,” Marshall said.
From the beginning of the month there were a number of presentations at the school. They were visited by two Ghanaians who taught them about the culture of their native land. Additionally, various classes worked on the research of different African figures and leaders, and collages of these projects were then created on billboards throughout the entire school. The students learnt about dances from Africa, foods, songs, and they also wrote their very own poems dedicated to Ghana.
This morning there was a big function to culminate the activities. This was attended by hundreds of Vauxhall Primary students bedecked in their beautiful tie-dyed and Afrocentric garb, as were many of their parents. Although the day had to be cut short and organizers were forced to condense the activities that did not affect the quality of performances.
The function started with a march from the school to neighbouring Sheraton Centre and back. Then it officially began with a blessing from the Mount Pisgah Spiritual Baptist Church. Church leaders had the children singing traditional hymns to the accompaniment of drums, while members of the Pan-African Coalition Of Organizations led the audience in libations (honouring the ancestors).
Class 1 students recited the poem Mandela, the Class 4 dancers performed A Tribute To Bob Marley and the Vauxhall drama and dance group performed the piece African Safari. There was also an exhibition of African artefacts like the sankofa bird, African masks, drums and other craft, and African literature. This was the school’s fifth year celebrating African Awareness Month.