PIQUA — Several groups of students at Piqua High School traveled to Africa on Thursday — without ever leaving the confines of the school gymnasium.
The teens gathered in the gym during the seventh and eighth period physical education classes to learn African dances, traditions and other cultural aspects from teacher Abigail Ngoza-Jordan, who hails from Johannesburg, South Africa.
This is the second year that the Zumba teacher has collaborated with sports agility instructor Clayge Miller to present a Black History Month program focusing on African culture.
Beckoning the students to don multi-colored wraps emblazoned with festive patterns, the ebullient Ngoza-Jordan cried, “We’re gonna get this party started!”
And indeed it was a party — a wedding party, to be exact.
With sophomore Maddie Ordean draped in an aqua wrap as the bride, and senior Mario Macon wearing a matching kofia hat and dashiki as the groom, a mock wedding was staged, complete with drumming and bridesmaids portrayed by Nakkya Ross and Jasmine Elliston.
“It’s very fun to see how Africans did their weddings,” Ordean said. “I really like it.”
She and Macon were chosen as the betrothed couple because they are best friends, Ordean said.
Tables in the gym were laden with an extensive display of African instruments, jewelry, art, flags, money, animal carvings and other artifacts. Ngoza-Jordan also taught the students phrases in Xhosa, one of the official languages of South Africa.
Thursday’s program also included the reading of African proverbs like, “Lack of knowledge is darker than night” and “Do not insult the crocodile until you cross the water,” a warning to be careful about criticizing others.
“I like to incorporate morals and values into the celebration,” explained Ngoza-Jordan, who also is the director of the African Connection, a program that promotes character development, life skills, believing in oneself, following one’s dreams and never giving up.
“I believe that if they feel good inside, they will feel good outside.”