A Party, Dinner or Dance ?

One newspaper headline in Europe some years ago highlighted some rebellious actions against the extravaganza of Christmas- and New Year dinners.

Some restaurants found their food supplies damaged just a day before Christmas and were unable to serve the menus that people had made reservations for many months
ahead of time.
If you ask someone in the West what the ideal Christmas celebration is, increasingly you will hear “a great dinner with lots of drinks”.
Some people spend a fortune for a night out dining and drinking to celebrate Christmas or New Year’s eve.
As such there is nothing wrong with that since this is a personal choice anyone can make.
So what was great about that?
The full belly ?
The headache the next morning ?
How did you enjoy yourselves ?
These questions are not coming from those who had damaged the food supplies of the restaurants but from people in Africa who don’t understand how you can call a party a party if all you do is eat.
In the West people often think of famine when it comes to Africa.
Therefore these questions may sound surprising for some people in the West.
It illustrates again some misunderstanding about the two worlds.
You put on the music, you make sure that there is a big enough space where people can dance and that is all you need to have a group of people expressing themselves joyfully for hours and hours.
No need for cocaine, no need for hard liquor, no need for abundance of food, lobster, caviar or any of the other big ticket items you see on some of the celebrity parties that people in the west dream of to attend and are willing to spent a fortune on.
At a party in Africa of course there is food as well, but the emphasize is not on food nor on drinks.
The emphasize is on sharing a happy or a sad moment expressing yourself.
A local band, with some very basic loud speakers will take care of everything.
If the band has to take a break, scratched cd’s will fill the musical gap and even if the song skips a few tracks the African built-in natural understanding of rhythm makes sure that people adjust without even mentioning it.
And people dance until the sun almost comes up, elders and youngsters sharing the floor,families all coming together, children included who will fall asleep when they feel like they had enough.
Life in Africa is about the family and the community, the year around and music and dance are a bonding force throughout life.

In some parts of Africa there are special dances to celebrate a newborn child and different dances to please the ancestors or to commemorate a loved one that passed away.

This year we were invited at a New Year party at one of the Senior Officers Messes and we danced in the open air under the starlight, together with Captains, Colonels and Generals.
A hugh open space was cooled by a very mild breeze while at 03.00 hours AM it was still 25 degrees Celsius and the dance floor was packed.
From Ndombolo to Salsa to Zouk, all styles of music filled the air and there was no way the guests were getting tired. Sometimes more traditional music invited people to dance as one group and everybody that related to that particular dance would try to join.
It demonstrated from what village or region people originated and they all felt proud dancing their traditional dances that distinguished them as a unique group.
Some tables were only showing some bottles of water, Coke or Fanta, while some other tables were having champaign in coolers and bottles of whine or whiskey but
most of the time that was all you could see at the tables……the guests were all out dancing…

© Desi Lopez Fafié

1 Response to “A Party, Dinner or Dance ?”

  1. 1 Harry Tetteh
    January 14, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Christmas celebration has never change in my hometown in Ghana. When I was a kid, intervals between Christmases seems over 12months because of how much we missed each occasion.

    On the day of Christmas, kids would wear their special clothing dedicated for the season and moved from house to house for their present which was always and already waiting for them. Neighbours prepare enough meal to share then gather around the fire at night (no electricity) to sing and dance whiles the elders share folktales.

    Christmas has always been and remained memorable!

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