Tuesday, June 17, 2014
The Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Located at Mount Pleasant's Waterfront Park, the festival highlighted sweetgrass basket-making, a nearly 300-year tradition, along with other arts and crafts.
Festivities lasted for two days. The Imani Milele Youth Choir from Uganda and the Adande African Drum and Dance group located in Charleston, South Carolina, delivered feature performances, displaying dances from Guinea meshed with rhythmic African tempos.
Imani Milele, which translates to “faith forever,” aims to rescue at-risk youth.
“We use performing arts to rehabilitate them (children),” said Sam Straxy, one of the group's leaders.
Adande, which translates to “meet the challenge,” has a similar aim, using instruments and dance to recruit youth and steer them off to college.
The two groups combined to provide an African-based, upbeat performance to conclude the annual sweetgrass celebration. Banging drums and African chants filled the air as dancers moved to the rhythmic sounds.
Straxy said the group's goal was to provide something “new and fresh.”
Adande Artistic Director Jesse Thrower said the group lived up to its name.
“The crowd received it very well. We left them wanting much more. That's Adande style,” Thrower said.
The performances, however, weren't the only attractions.
Sweetgrass baskets and African artifacts captivated guests' attention just as much as the music and dance.
The German-Glover family, Mrs. Jery Bennett-Taylor, Ivory's Treasures African Home Decor, Southern Sisters, Sew Exquisite and Carolina Wood Carvings were among vendors in attendance.
They offered works ranging from Bullrush-style baskets from Beaufort, South Carolina, to home decor imported from Zimbabwe.
Ivory's Treasures African Home Decor owner Bernice Capers said everyone should be informed about their own cultural backgrounds. “Everyone should be educated on their heritage,” Capers said.