A glimpse of Africa in Bantry’s Ma Murphy

Posted on: 31st August, 2017

Category: Arts & Entertainment

Contributor: West Cork People

Bantry was treated to a glimpse of African culture on August 12 when Ma Murphy’s Pub hosted Mama Africa!, a charity event organised by Dr Fiona Moejes, along with her friends and family. Despite what turned out to be a quintessential Irish weekend (i.e. it rained), the event transported the people of Bantry to the rich and diverse heart of Africa.

Towering smoke from the handmade barbeque welcomed visitors with the aroma of mbuzi choma (grilled goat), a traditional meal from across the motherland. Dishes with ancient roots from Africa, Asia and Europe blended into the medley of exotic food that was on offer. ‘Bia yangu, Nchi yangu’ (My beer, My country) has been the proud slogan of Kenyan beer Tusker since 1922 and the lager was the perfect accompaniment to both the flavourful food and rhythmic music.

Live drumming from the ‘Hands On Drumming’ group (sessions at Ma Murphy’s every Monday evening) was complemented by some African dancing and was followed by African tunes from the traditional to modern Afrobeats, creating the vibrant and warm atmosphere that the continent is famous for.

Jewellery and ornaments were on sale at the duka (shop) and there was the opportunity to wear customary Maasai garments and adornments, and have nostalgic polaroids taken with an African savannah backdrop. A few lucky wageni (guests) won some fantastic prizes from O’Sullivan’s Pharmacy, The Central Fish Market, Ma Murphy’s, The stuffed Olive, Box of Frogs, Jessie’s Hair and Beauty, P J Dix Jewellers, The Cosy Cabin and Henna by Maeva, as well as some African clothing.

The event was a roaring success brimming with laughter, dance, music and food; all the ingredients that create the spirited heart and soul of Africa.

Mama Africa! was organised to raise funds for the charity Toto Care Box. The charity, of which Fiona is an integral member, is still in its infancy. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, it was founded by Lucy Kaigutha and works to provide maternal care packages to women in impoverished areas in the country, with the current demographic consisting mainly of women in the slums of Nairobi. The box contains a mattress and acts as a crib for the newborn, and includes items such as a mosquito net, surgical spirit, nappies and anti-dehydration kits. By supplying the maternal care box, the charity hopes to address the high maternal and infant mortality rates in Kenya.

In order to receive a free Toto Care Box expectant mothers must attend a minimum of four antenatal classes, acting as an incentive for them to receive antenatal care. This in turn gives health care professionals the opportunity to identify and manage high-risk pregnancies (e.g. mothers with HIV/Aids, diabetes and hypertension) and to administer medication and interventions early enough to prevent maternal and new-born mortality.

Toto Care Box runs solely on donations, and all the people working with the charity volunteer their time. Each box costs about 3,000ksh (about €25) and the group are currently able to supply 30 boxes a month – all thanks to donations.

The people of West Cork who came together at Mama Africa! managed to raise close to €2,300 (equivalent of over 90 Toto Care Boxes) for the women and new-borns of Kenya.

Fiona would like to thank Sean, Mary, Billy and the team at Ma Murphy’s for hosting the event and all the endless support on the day. Also all the local businesses that donated to the raffle, all the people who helped organise the day, and finally the people who attended.

Fiona Moejes moved to Bantry in April 2013 to carry out research for her PhD at the Daithi O’Murchu Marine Research Station (which was restructured into the Bantry Marine Research Station in December 2016). She completed her PhD in May 2016 in Düsseldorf, Germany. After some time in Germany, Fiona moved back to Bantry in January 2017 to take up her role as a senior research scientist at BMRS which is based on the Sheep’s Head peninsula in Gearhies. The main activities at the research station are in micro- and macroalgal cultivation, and the extraction and quantification of bioactive compounds, Earth Observation, GIS and oceanographic research to improve products and services such as forecasting, aquaculture site selection etc., and fish disease trials. The main production activities are in the on-growing of cleaner fish, sea urchin hatchery and on-growing, and the commercial cultivation of macroalgae at sea.

Pictured above left: Ma Murphy’s Billy with Sarah and Grace; Middle: The event’s organising team;

Right: Adelaide Raguin in traditional West African attire.

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