PIQUA — Teens got a taste of South African culture Wednesday night — and it tasted like peanut butter.
Teen Leadership Director Abigail Ngoza-Jordan of the Miami County YMCA held a Black History Month presentation at the Youth Center of the Piqua Branch of the Miami County YMCA that included activities from making peanut butter from scratch to having a mock African wedding where two teens “jumped the broom.”
“Today we’re going to do an African wedding,” Ngoza-Jordan said. “We’re going to do an African dance, and then they’re going to make peanut butter from scratch.”
While two teens prepared to get pretend married, a handful other teens made peanut butter from scratch by grinding up peanuts with wooden mortars and pestles from Africa. They sang and chanted to keep time with their grinding, sampling their concoctions after they were done.
“I had no idea it would taste like actual peanut butter,” Halley Petty, 12, of Bradford said. Petty said it tasted sweet and almost like store-bought peanut butter. She also had fun making it.
“It’s really fun to mash it,” Petty said.
Following the tasty treat, Ngoza-Jordan taught the teens how to have a lively African wedding. Decked out in African clothes and fabrics, teens chanted and sang as Emily Christian, 17, of Troy, and Jacob Swartz, 16, of Piqua, walked down the metaphorical isle together. The singing continued as the group then started dancing in a circle in front of the couple, pretending to offer them food and gifts.
“Hold hands, pretend, and then we’re going to jump the broom,” Ngoza-Jordan said. “When they jump the broom, then they tie the knot.”
With a decorated broom on the ground, Christian and Swartz jumped over the broom together amid more singing and cheering. Ngoza-Jordan then led the teens on a dance around the room.
“It was like a fun experience,” Swartz said.
“It was really cool experiencing another culture,” Christian said.
They both said that they enjoyed the dancing the most.
Ngoza-Jordan hoped to inspire the kids during the presentation to follow their dreams as well as embrace diversity.
“My whole purpose is to encourage kids to believe in their dreams, never give up, and then to believe in themselves, and then to realize that we are more alike than different and that when we embrace our differences, it becomes a better world,” Ngoza-Jordan said.
Ngoza-Jordan read the teens some African proverbs to teach the kids “morals, values, and life skills.”
“For example, ‘Do not insult the crocodile until you cross the water,’” Ngoza-Jordan said, explaining that the proverb meant “Be careful about criticizing others.” Another example was, “If you run after two hares, you will catch neither,” which was about focusing on one task.
“It’s really developing their leadership … and life skills in a different lense,” Ngoza-Jordan said.
Ngoza-Jordan also drew upon her own experience to inspire the kids. She is originally from South Africa and has been living in the United States for 24 years. Ngoza-Jordan was not allowed to go to school where she lived in South Africa due to apartheid, so her parents sent her sister and her to England so they could receive an education. It was there that Ngoza-Jordan decided that it was her dream to travel and be a teacher in a foreign country.
“Your dreams are never too small,” Ngoza-Jordan said. Ngoza-Jordan said that while her parents were against her becoming a teacher in a foreign country, she still pursued her goals and eventually accomplished them.
“I followed my dreams,” Ngoza-Jordan said.
Reach Sam Wildow at email@example.com or (937) 451-3336