Macdella Cooper, a Liberian philanthropist and founder of Macdella Cooper Foundation, hosted a charity event, “L’Africana Celebration, A Cultural Affair” on Thursday, October 22nd, 2015 at The Salisbury Hotel in New York City. Some of the esteemed guests include David Paterson, former governor of New York, Jean Victor Nkolo, spokesperson for the United Nations General Assembly, Jeremiah Suluteh, Liberian ambassador to the United States, Dr. Mamadou Tangara, Gambian Ambassador to the United Nations, and Queen M’mah Camara, Miss Guinee North America 2015.
“The MacDella Cooper Foundation (MCF) is a 501c3 international charitable organization dedicated to providing youth, especially orphans and abandoned children, with an education and the basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter.” My expectations of the event weren’t much because I’ve not been to a lot of charity events, but I did expect an event that toots to be a cultural affair to be coated with some type of African culture. Upon stepping into the event hall, I was greeted by lots of African arts displayed on every corner. It felt like I was in an African arts museum. This event was more than I expected. There were so many things that stood out for me and made me a very proud African. Below, I will share with you the top five that belong in the history books.
African arts: Masks & masquerade
I was one of the first few guests to arrive, so I took the liberty to walk around and closely study the beautifully displayed masks and chatted with some of the guests about the importance and true meaning of African arts. We all agreed that African arts belong in a prestigious museum where people would pay top dollar to view them. There was a lanky masquerade dressed in red fringy costume who was way too tall to fit his entire height in the room. Upon sighting him I knew this “cultural affair” was the real deal because masquerades are the building blocks of African culture. Masquerades are believed to be spirits that embody our ancestors. People, especially children and women are afraid of them and are advised to stay far away to avoid getting mercilessly flogged. You won’t understand the fear until you’ve been chased down the street by your village masquerade.
African drummers and dancers
Guests were entertained by African village dancers and drummers who took me on a direct flight to my small town in Nigeria where drums were seen as a second language, a means of communication with one another without words. Drums help us to dance away our sorrows, evoke the spirits of our ancestors and reconnect us with loved ones. The drummers and dancers at this event were so raw and incredibly talented.
After the culturally infused performance, guests lined up for food. I must admit the food was one of the best I’ve ever eaten at an African event. There were different kinds of food to choose from and if you are a foodie like me you would be tempted to try them all. They were very appetizing and richly flavored. One of the guests who was still undecided about the food asked me about the origin. Being the type of person that never misses an opportunity to enlighten others about African food, I was more than happy to tell her enough that convinced her to get a plate.
Networking and connections
Who would think a cultural event would also serve as a platform for networking and growing business connections? I met a lot of people who shared similar interests in blogging, fashion and arts. Lots of guests were prominent figures in their respective professions. They were friendly, very sociable and exhibited willingness to stay in touch and even do collaborative work in the future.
People love to give, and when you organize a charity event where they can eat, dance and learn about other cultures while giving who can say no to that? There were so many cheerful givers. Some donated directly in huge undisclosed amounts while others donated indirectly by paying $30 admission fee that guaranteed they were well fed. All donations would go towards MCF Academy’s Arts & Talent program.
The charity event might be over but giving isn’t. Please sponsor a child by donating to MCF, which would help provide a roof over the head of an orphaned child, ensure no child goes to bed hungry and provide a child access to education. For more information on how to give, please visit macdellacooper.org.