International Women’s Day is a very important day to our entire community. It is also significant to the Congolese community here in Champaign. It is a celebration of all the important women in our life: wives, mothers, sisters, aunts, friends... women who have touched our lives in some way.
The students at Stratton Academy of the Arts and the Champaign Early Childhood Center celebrated wearing special clothes made of beautiful fabrics from Congo. Usually each member of a Congo family will have a matching (or at least color-coordinated) outfit to wear. Many families will celebrate by dining out this weekend.
Stratton hosted a special assembly to commemorate International Women’s Day. The staff at the Champaign Early Childhood Center organized a parade. The children made necklaces of special African fabric for their families. They also created flags, ribboned bracelets, and instruments for the parade. Following Stratton's assembly, they marched over to join the early childhood students at their parade.
Students sang the same song which is an excerpt of a poem called "A ma mere" by Carama Laye. The poet who is from Guinea, dedicated it to his mother. It is a well-loved anthem in the Congolese community. The full text of the poem and translation can be found at the link below, but the part they were singing goes like this:
"Femme noire, femme africaine,
Ô toi ma mère, je pense à toi…
Ô Daman, ô ma Mère,
Toi qui me portas sur le dos..."
It translates to:
"Black woman, African woman,
Oh you, my mother, I'm thinking about you...
Oh Daman, oh my mother,
You who carried me on your back..."
(Daman is the author's mother's name.)
Take a look at the video below for a recap of Stratton’s and CECC’s celebration today.