Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The Presentation

I haven't been writing as much as I would like to because of "The Presentation." Part of the plan when I went to Africa was to have a gathering of all the people that helped make my trip happen, and show them photos and answer questions about my experience. Thus I have been working on a Powerpoint presentation using many of the over 500 photos I have and writing the stories of my travels.

While this may seem like a simple undertaking, it is not. You see, there were over 130 people who helped me with this trip. There are also at least another 100-200 who have asked me when the presentation is going to happen. We have asked my children's former school and the church that houses them to use their space, as we are expecting at least 100 people to this event.

Laura (a.k.a. "The Wife") has also been very busy gathering up door prizes and putting together a drawing and a silent auction (we'll donate the money to the school.) We will also have some other entertainment- an African student group at St. Olaf's College in Northfield has offered to bring thier award winning African dance troup to perform in exchange for me doing a presentation at their school. We will also have music from West Africa and I will be making samples of Nigerian foods for our guests to try. It is going to be a huge event.

The highlight for me will be to fulfill a promise I made to my father. In Igbo tradition, whenever someone comes to your home, or when you have special guests, or when there is a special event, you present them with a kola nut. It involves blessing the kola (which must be done in the Igbo language)-presenting it to your guests, and then cutting it into pieces to share.

In Nigeria, my father would often be the person who would bless the kola. Afterwards he would say a few words in English, offering kola nut to the guests. On a couple of occasions, he made a request of me to take a special kola nut back to the United States with me to present to our leaders as a gesture of good will on behalf of the people of Aboh Orlu. His instructions were to present one to our Mayor, one to our Governor, and one to the President of the United States, letting them all know that the people of Nigeria wish them wisdom and many blessings.

Thus, we have invited the mayor, the governor, and the President of the United States to our presentation. We also invited our Vice President, our local Congressman, our Senators, our State Representative. So far the Mayor as given an RSVP. Our Congressman cannot attend due to a prior commitment, but will have a representative there on his behalf. And the while the President's office responded... (Well- it is an election year, ya know!)

I guess I'll have to make a separate appointment with the Governor and the President. In any case, I will take pictures to send back to my father with those who show up so I can send the proof back to my father. I think that he will be pleased.

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