tips on organizing an African dinner for your group or club
How to have an African Dinner Party
The Congo Cookbook is a collection of African recipes and information about African cooking and food. Many people use The Congo Cookbook in their preparations for an African dinner for their group or club. Here are some thoughts on presenting the best possible African dinner party.
Obviously this is the most important part of your dinner. Food must be obtained and prepared, so some planning is necessary. Here are some thoughts:
Something for the Eyes
Decorating and providing some books to look at should make the dinner both fun and informative.
- Decorations: Hang palm fronds over the doorways and windows. Make table centerpieces from tropical fruits that grow in Africa. (See: Fruit Salad.) Use African-style fabrics for the tablecloths.
- Books: Check out lots of books about Africa from your local library. (history books, guide books, picture books, children's books, etc.) Leave them on the tables for guests to look at and learn from; that should get the conversation started. (See: Africa in Literature.)
- Merchandise: If your area has any local vendors selling African items, ask them if they would like to set up tables of their African wares for sale at your event.
Something for the Ears
Nothing makes ambience like music.
- CDs and Tapes: Buy or borrow some recorded African music to play during dinner. Without question, music of the Congo River region is the best in Africa.
Games Africans Play
Some before- or after-dinner fun.
- Mancala: These counting-strategy games (there are many variations to the rules) may be the world's oldest. Stone mancala boards have been found carved in ancient Egyptian ruins and the game is now played throughout Africa. (Similar games are played in Asia.) Outside Africa, "mancala" seems to be the most common name for this game; in Africa it is also called Aware, Awari, Ayo, Bao, Choro, Moraba-raba, Omweso, Oware, Owari, Ware, Wari, Warri, Wouri, etc. The game involves each player distributing game pieces (pebbles or seeds) among two rows of holes according to specific rules, and collecting pieces when certain conditions are met. The player with the most pieces at the end of the game is the winner. The playing board can be scratched in the dirt, but the game is usually played on boards carved from wood. Some elaborate boards are the size of coffee-tables.
- Checkers: Checkers (or draughts) is a popular game in Africa. The standard checkerboard contains 64 squares in an 8 x 8 pattern. In Africa, homemade checkerboards are often 100 squares in a 10 x 10 pattern. Children often make their own checkboards and use soft-drink bottlecaps for the game pieces.
Also see African Food for Kwanzaa or Black History Month.
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