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Abayomi doll workshop

Abayomi doll workshop

Rose Rucoba ’19 February 25, 2019

Students had the chance to combine their crafting skills and patience during the Abayoni Doll Workshop on February 18.

The event, hosted by the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) and the Multicultural Programming Council (MPC), was part of Black History Month and was meant especially to pay tribute to Maafa, a Kiswahili term that refers to the passage of African slaves from the African west coast across the Atlantic to America.

Sam Ortiz, associate director for campus and community engagement in the OMA, explained the dolls’ significance during this time in history, saying it was a way for African mothers to connect with their children during their crossing.

“For those who are descendants of African slaves,” Ortiz said, “the Abayomi dolls are part of a larger way of connecting to those who came before us. Abayomi means 'precious meeting' in Yoruba. During the voyage from Africa, mothers would sometimes take pieces of cloth from their skirts and make these dolls to remember their children and as a way to help keep hope. The dolls became symbols of resistance.”

Event organizers Diego Lopez and December Lee led the workshops’ participants through a step-by-step tutorial of how to make their own Abayomi dolls, which December Lee described as a kind of “African rag doll.”

The workshop was an overall success, with as many as 20 students at a time participating in the workshop, which took place in a classroom in the basement of Alumni Hall.

Senior religious studies major and MPC vice-president, Jordyn Gardner, remarked on the success of the workshop and what that means to the MPC during Black History Month.

 "This was a successful event because seeing the amount of people that showed up was remarkable and those that attended had diverse backgrounds,” Gardner said.

 MPC officers were not the only ones who thought the event was a hit. First-year student and exercise science major, Tiana Brown, said the workshop was both a fun and fascinating experience for her.

 “Creating dolls was great because there was a challenge to making them and I learned more about African culture,” Brown said.

 All Abayomi dolls made during the workshop will be displayed during the MAAFA Commemoration Service in the Immaculate Conception Chapel on February 28.

 See the video here on how to make your own Abayomi doll.