The Night Belongs To The Women Of Africa 2009: Dance Rosemary

The night belongs to the women of Africa

Much more than a dance…
Rosemary Kariuki, from Kenya, one of the organisers of the African Women’s Dinner Dance. Photo: Steven Siewert TEN years ago Rosemary Kariuki arrived in Sydney with an almost overwhelming sense of despair and loneliness after inter-tribal conflict forced her to flee her native Kenya, leaving her children behind. "I arrived with one bag and $300 in my pocket,” she recalls. "I got off the plane and looked around for another African face. I spotted an Ethiopian woman across the terminal and ran towards her as if she were my sister.” That woman welcomed her and took in her in, helping her survive the first painful weeks. "If it were not for her I would be lost,” says Ms Kariuki. That simple act of charity has stayed with Ms Kariuki and since then, through her work with various voluntary groups and as an ethnic community liaison officer with NSW Police, she has helped hundreds of other African women and their families settle into their new home. Traditional food, dancing and entertainment will be on the menu for the seven-hour event, but it will be strictly women-only. "Everywhere these women go, they have their husbands or children with them, but here they are alone and not always looking behind them to see what the child ate or whether their husband is being taken care of,” says Ms Kariuki.
"I get so many calls from men asking whether they are allowed to come. Not this time, I say, then they say why don’t you do a dance for us But I say men cannot dance by themselves.”

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