Stars in the making at McKinley-Brighton

(Photo courtesy McKinley-Brighton Camera Club)

A scene from "Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters," performed twice at McKinley-Brighton School on West Newell St. on May 28th. Front row (from left): Tamia Roddy, Nireasha White, Amani Johnson, Imani Williams, Mayjah O'Neal. Back: Love Nicholson (behind), Kaliyah Jones, Myquashia Ingram.

Music teacher Theresa Ladd directed her own adaptation of John Steptoe's classic children's book for the Southside magnet school's 5th grade production. The show included dances and songs, backed by a chorus and drumming.

"Mufaro" tells the story of the father of the title (whose name in the Shona language means "happy man") and how his two daughters are called to the king's city to be considered for marriage. Though both beautiful, Manyara (her name means "ashamed") is selfish and sneaky, and Nyasha ("mercy") is gentle and good. The king turns out to be a shape-shifter who's been investigating on his own.

Steptoe based his book on "Kaffir Folktales" (1895), collected from people living near the ruins of an ancient city in what is now Zimbabwe. The Brooklyn-born ink and watercolor artist researched Africa for the first time himself in order to write and illustrate this book.

As part of its participation in the Say Yes to Education! program, McKinley-Brighton had just completed the Tundra Room, this year's all-school project to create one of Earth's six major "biomes" (environments). Thanks to principal Rosa Clark, librarian Bonnie French, science teacher Jackie Pitt, and student Nylaiza Espey for their warm welcome and tour.

A version of this article appears in the June 11, 2009 issue of the Syracuse City Eagle.

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