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Dublin: 19 °C Tuesday 29 July, 2014

Column: Dance has the ability to bring people together, no matter where they’re from

Africa Day celebrations are taking place nationwide. Here, student and dancer Onai Tafuma writes about her life in Ireland.

Onai Tafuma

MY NAME IS Onai Tafuma and I am 15 years old. I was born in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, which is in Southern Africa. I moved to Donegal when I was two years old and lived there for two years before moving to Drogheda, which has now become my home.

I have always attended Catholic schools here in Ireland. I found it awkward at the beginning, sitting through religion classes about communion and confirmation, as I am not Catholic. But now I find it easier because the classes also include other religions and faiths, including my own Christian faith. Since we are in an integrated society it helps to know what other people believe and their perception of life.

I am studying for my Junior Certificate at the moment and my favourite subjects are business and geography. I think business studies will help me with dealing with people in the future and I might have to use some of these skills later in life. I enjoy geography because I think it is so important to know about the world around you.

People are free to show their culture and beliefs

As an African teenager living in Ireland I think Ireland is a country where people are free to show their culture and beliefs. I have never experienced racism myself but I do know about other African kids who have. This might have happened to them in a joking way, but even still, this could affect the way they perceive society in the future.

I am happy in Ireland because I have been able to express myself and people have accepted me the way I am. And I am also grateful to my mum for her guidance and up-bringing, teaching me to deal with different cultures in different situations.
I don’t have many hobbies because all I like to do is dance!

At the age of seven, I joined FitKids/FitTeens. That was the day that changed my life. I have been dancing since then and I have had amazing opportunities, as well as being able to develop my self-confidence and communication skills.

FitKids/FitTeens is a dance school founded by Jacinta Cassidy and many of our instructors are members of Raw Edge Crew, who have represented Ireland in the World Hip Hop Championships and are regularly seen on TV or performing at charity or corporate events.

Dance brings people together

At FitKids/FitTeens there is a mix of different nationalities. I think dance has the ability to bring people together no matter where they are from, what they look like and what they believe in. Dance also helps people to work as a team.

I am currently a member of a dance crew called Nasty by Nature, which is hoping to represent Ireland in the World Hip Hop Championships in Las Vegas this summer. Nasty by Nature has already won many Championship titles before including the All Ireland Hip Hop Championships 2012 and 2013 and the Irish Hip Hop Masters 2013. I’m also training as a solo dancer in New-School hip hop.

FitKids/FitTeens will be performing on the ‘Malaika’ stage at the flagship Africa Day festival in Farmleigh on Sunday 25th May.

Onai Tafuma is a Junior Cert student and dancer.

Africa Day celebrations, supported by Irish Aid, are taking place nationwide this week and the national Africa Day flagship family festival takes place in Farmleigh Estate, Phoenix Park, Dublin 15, on Sunday 25 May from 11am to 6pm and is free of charge. Follow Africa Day on Facebook and Twitter @AfricaDay #AfricaDay. For more information visit www.africaday.ie.

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