youths & culture
sierra leone communinty in minnesota
SLCM Youth Ensemble
The SLCM Youth Ensemble includes community youth from 10 to 20 years. Led by the Youth Director Mimie Mogaka, the youth engage in three areas of activity:
Youth Community Outreach
Youth group at a “Feed my starving children” packaging session
The ensemble’s dance routines are designed to tell stories through dance and music. The costumes are designed by Mimie Mogaka and reflect some of the traditional attire worn by community dancers in Sierra Leone. Community dancers are typically professionals and semi-professionals who perform at ceremonies such as weddings and community feasts. The stage is usually a compound or an open street.
The ensemble also provides dramatic presentations at various occasions. Jonathan Rose is the lead writer and director for dramatic presentations.
These dramas are learning and teaching tools; cultural learning for the youth, who were either born in the US or are too young to have absorbed the Sierra Leonean culture, and teaching on Sierra Leonean culture and history, especially for audiences outside the Sierra Leonean community.
The youth activities are enables through the sacrifices of many parents who provide transportation, snacks, and other support during program development and practices.
SLCM works with other nonprofit organizations and the state of Minnesota Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage (CMAH) to introduce youth to advocacy and to learn how legislative processes work. Tobacco control was selected as a platform focus because SLCM has been working on tobacco issues since its inception.
Through this program, the youth get to meet and talk with their elected representatives, learn the history of legislation in Minnesota, and help to address disparities in health, criminal justice, and education that affect communities of color.