Young and energetic Nangah Tabah (Miss ) as the link was center stage at the second annual commemorative event of Africa World’s Day that was celebrated with music vibrations and dances from
, African cuisine and culturally appropriate messages on how to stop the spread of AIDS. This year’s well attended event took place at the
on December 10.
Miss was joined by another dynamic youth, Michelle Collen, who delivered a message from Senator Mark Dayton. A poetry recital of the spoken word – “Awakening” was introduced by a gifted youth of Project Valentine. Youthful dancers from the Ethiopian Dance Group, the invigorating Cameroon Dance Group and a display of fashion dresses by Oromo and Nigerian youth were the highlights.
Equally visible were elders from African immigrants, both community and spiritual and of-course the hot drum beats from the elderly Yoruba Dance Group who ignited the hall with rhythmic African beats. The crowd that seemed to enjoy the show roared with wild ecstasy.
Key messages came from Dr Keith Henry, Dr Omobosola Akinsete, both from the Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), representatives of Governor Tim Pawlenty, and Congresswoman Betty McCollum – the latter of who were represented by Mitchel Davis and Chao Lee respectively.
Dr Keith Henry
He told the moving story of early diagnosed cases of AIDS in
and how the medical profession coped with them. He urged all people who are sexually active to get tested and if found positive to start medication early in order to maximize chances of survival. He said governments should stop searching for weapons of mass destruction, as AIDS is the weapon of mass destruction.
Dr. Omobosola Akinsete
She said the main cause for the spread of HIV-AIDS for Africans is ignorance among the people. She urged the leaders at all levels to empower our people so that they know how to stay free from infection. She said people should be encouraged to take free testing which is amply available in
Governor Tim Pawlenty
A proclamation for World Africa AIDS Day was read out from the Governor who reaffirmed his commitment to STOP AIDS in
. He congratulated African immigrants in
for leading the way in observing Africa AIDS Day.
Congresswoman Betty McCollum
She reaffirmed her support for the UN Millennium Global Goal of combating HIV-AIDS, malaria, Tuberculosis and other communicable diseases. She said the 2005 theme of Stop AIDS, Keep the Promise had come at an appropriate time.
Senator Mark Dayton
He said he supported fully the Ryan White Paper as a valuable tool in the fight against HIV-AIDS and he expressed full commitment to its continued funding.
Perhaps the climax of the event was when an African immigrant woman (name withheld) stood up and told her story of rape from 15 people and the abduction of her husband forcing her to flee her country. When she arrived in the , some of her closest family members kicked her out upon learning that she was HIV-positive due to the stigma still associated with the AIDS pandemic.
This lady who now lives at a shelter has been struggling just to make ends meet, living a nomadic life but determined to soldier on with the medication that is available to live as near normal a life as can be. Members of the audience were so emotionally caught up in her story that an immediate fund-raiser was started to support her livelihood. Until we went to press, it was not clear how much money was impromptly raised in the ad-hoc fund-raiser. This was indeed a day of serious messages and African fun and networking!