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Growing up at EOYDC
The first time I came to EOYDC I was five years old. I distinctly remember it seeming larger than life. I had come with Sister Linda for the first West African Dance class ever to be held there. The class took place in what are now the homework center and the room next to it. Then, it was just one long room. My twin sister Taiwo and I spent a total of 11 years dancing with Sister Linda at the EOYDC. During that time, we performed numerous times at EOYDC, as well as other places.
One performance we were committed to annually was the Festival at the Lake. That was always a big event for the center, because not only would we perform, but so would the steel pan ensemble. I have never really sat down and thought about all the opportunities I had offered to me as a result of my being a part of Sister Linda’s dance class. There have been many. I had the privilege of dancing for Nelson Mandela when he came to Oakland after his release from prison in 1989. I was also able to dance for Katherine Dunham for her 80th birthday celebration in 1990.
I will be forever grateful for the years I spent at EOYDC taking that dance class, for not only was the center fun and exciting for me, but the center to me was a part of an extended family. It was a place that my parents could feel comfortable about leaving me without worrying that something harmful would happen to me. In fact, when my sister and I graduated from high school we had our graduation party at the center. Most of our classmates thought we were crazy because of the surrounding community, but we have always felt comfortable here, so this is where we held it.
This summer I worked as the assistant director of the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program and I loved it. My sister and I both came back last summer to work as program coordinators for the summer program, after being away at school at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. Now she is working at a youth center in Houston, Texas, teaching West African dance, while I am back at home.
By: Kehinde Kukichagulia-Seitu