Victoria Angelo and Marta Sam
Acholi (African) Song and Dance
(Nurturing Well-being and Health)
The ancestral area of Acholi is the borderland between southern Sudan and northern Uganda. Both Victoria and Marta learned song and dance at traditional village gatherings when they were children. They continue their tradition because it communicates strong values, teaches their unique history, and keeps them physically fit. Both women admit that dancing is the best cure for back pain. Acholi people do not sing or dance alone, and it is used by an entire communicate to both celebrate and mourn. Victoria says, "When people are married, we dance. When someone dies, we dance."
Marta and Victoria use their traditional knowledge on a daily basis in Erie at St. Martin Early Learning Center, where they work with infants and toddlers. They find that young children all love to sing and dance, not only does it build their language and motor skills, it builds classroom camaraderie. They also use traditional songs to calm children down. The Acholi have very few generic lullabies. Instead, they draw from a veritable pharmacology of songs to address particular needs; there are songs to soothe a feverish baby, other songs to ease stomach pain, and others to comfort a baby whose mother is away.
Both Victoria Angelo and Marta Sam work at St. Martin's Early Childhood Center as Assistant Group Supervisors. Before coming to the US to escape the devastation of civil war in their homeland, both women had occupations in health and childcare. Between them they have 13 children. Each has been dancing for over 30 years.