Moghamo-American Cultural Festival

January 23rd, 2009 by admin

On November 22, 2008, more than twenty Peace Corps volunteers from all over Cameroon and representatives of the NGOs that they work with joined traditional rulers, local elites, public officials, dancers, artisans, and more than 2,000 villagers from all 22 villages of Batibo Sub-Division in a celebration of the culture of the Moghamo people and their partnership with the U.S. Peace Corps.

Local tradition was on display at the grandstand and stadium. Each village decorated its own portion of the field, showcasing prized antiquities, weavings and carvings, traditional garments, and skillfully tapped palm wine. On the center stage, dancers presented more than ten traditional dances, including several which had been becoming extinct, while an announcer explained the significance of each one.

The day was also an opportunity for Peace Corps volunteers to highlight favorite aspects of American culture and expose the community of Batibo to the mission and work of the Peace Corps. In between traditional Moghamo dances, the main stage featured American pop music performances, an expertly choreographed hip-hop dance, and a demonstration of American football, complete with a crowd participation tutorial on
“the wave.”

The field also featured informational booths set up by Peace Corps volunteers and local NGOs, often in collaboration, that provided information and resources in fields such as medicinal plants, small business development, agroforestry, nutrition, irrigation, beekeeping, and community health. Festival-goers were able to learn interactively and make contacts for future projects and collaborations in those areas. In addition, more than 300 people took advantage of the free HIV testing and counseling that was made available on site through the efforts of several volunteers and the Provincial Technical Group.

Ultimately, the day will be remembered not only for the enjoyment and celebration of the moment, but also for the way in which it sparked the process of preserving and presenting Moghamo culture and enhancing awareness and understanding among the Moghamo people of The U.S. Peace Corps and the work of its volunteers.

Plans are already under way for a future edition of the festival, one that will hopefully be even bigger and better than the last!

Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Best regards,
Seth Shapiro
PCV Batibo