Folk Art, Dance, Music
I am part Acholi and part Lulubo. The ancestral area of the Acholi is the borderland between South Sudan and northern Uganda. The Lulubo ancestral land is further inland in South Sudan. We Acholi and Lulubo people do not only sing or dance for fun alone. Song and dance is used by our entire community to both celebrate and mourn. Song and dance is used when a child is born, during marriage ceremony, when someone dies or even when we hunt. It is how we keep our tradition, culture and history. It also helps us communicate with current issues. A long time ago there was no technology or books, so we kept our history and memory with songs. You can burn a book. Your phone battery can die, but the songs in our hearts and brains are safe. If we loose everything we own because of some kind of natural disaster such as floods or man-made like war, we still have our history with us. Our traditions and culture are like our constitution. A long time ago we had no modern court houses but we used our traditional norms to serve justice, bless marriages, and show our children the correct way to act.
Having both Acholi and Lulubo parents, I try to keep my culture alive in many ways. Everything works together. I still speak the Acholi and Lulubo languages at home and with other relatives. I cook African food. I also wear African clothing. I also keep our song and dance traditions alive. We marry according to our tradition, we pay dowry as a way to honor the mother of the bride and the rest of the family. Keeping my tradition helps my family and children stay connected. It can still help them with any challenges they face in school, the community, or at work. We came here as refugees and it is important that our children know where they come from. If they don’t understand their past, they will be lost. They need to know their relatives. I see problems with some American children because they do not understand their past. Dancing also keeps us physically fit and healthy.
Victoria is available to present workshops and presentations for schools, churches, or community groups in:
Victoria Angelo was born in Uganda in 1968 from an Acholi mother and a Lulubo father. Because of the conflict that ousted Idi Amin in Uganda the family returned to their homeland of Sudan (now South Sudan), where she attended Kit Primary School in Equatorial Region of South Sudan. Then she attended Supiri Intermediate and Juba Girls' Secondary Schools. She graduated in 1985, and worked as a sports coach, and later got married. She then worked at the African Relief Agency clinic as a nutrition assistant and vaccine administrator. She completed two years an Umdurman Al-Ahliah University in Khartoum towards a bachelor’s in business administration. She then had to flee to Egypt, where she lived with her family for three years until her immigration to the U.S. She has lived in Erie since 2003. She has nine children.
From 2005 – 2009 she was awarded an Apprenticeship grant each year from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts to work with her friend and fellow Acholi Marta Sam to pass their song and dance tradition to her two daughters and Marta’s granddaughter. During that time she also taught several 6-week courses in Acholi dance for the general public at the Erie Art Museum and presented many professional development workshops for early childhood teachers.
Since 2004 she has worked at St. Martin’s Early Childhood Center. She teaches them and her co-workers African children’s songs, dances, and games in Musoga, Acholi, English, and Arabic. She has also performed at Celebrate Erie, the Erie Heritage Festival and at Acholi celebrations in Erie, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC. She was featured in the exhibit Making It Better: Folk Arts in Pennsylvania Today that toured to seven museums across the Commonwealth from 2010 – 2012.
In 2013 she enrolled at Mercyhurst North East University and graduated with an Associate degree in Early Childhood Education.