St. Joseph students learn French-African culture from guest speaker

 

 

St. Joseph School was alive with messages of French-African culture and music last Thursday as guest presenter Njacko Backo (foreground) attended the school.

St. Joseph School was alive with messages of French-African culture and music last Thursday as guest presenter Njacko Backo (foreground) attended the school.

By Ron Giofu

 

Students at St. Joseph School received lessons in geography, culture, French-language, music and more all from one guest speaker.

Njacko Backo, who was born and raised in Cameroon, spoke about his culture, his music and his language to Grade 4-7 students at the River Canard school last Thursday morning. Now living in Toronto, Backo said he travels across the province regularly throughout the school year delivering his messages.

“I’ve been doing this for 26 years,” he said. “It’s my passion in life.”

Backo said he also tries to give messages of love and respect.

“I believe through art, we can achieve it,” he said. “Art doesn’t tell you to be bad.”

Delivering his messages to children and seeing the looks on their faces is the “greatest thing in my life,” Backo stated.

“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to face them every day and to help them learn,” he said. “I love my life. I love to love.”

His lessons in multiple areas are important, he believed, as children have to be reached in a number of different ways.

“It’s up to us to help them. If you want a better future, they are the future. If we want a better tomorrow, we have to educate them better,” said Backo.

St. Joseph School booked him through the Mariposa in the Schools agency out of Toronto, a group that aims to introduce Ontario youth to cultural traditions from around the world. Backo’s presentation not only saw him speak to the students, he played music from his African culture and allowed students to join him in playing some of his instruments.

Rita DeBenedictis and Isa D’Agnillo, the two French teachers at St. Joseph School, invited Backo so that students could see French-language is used in places they may not realize.

“We invited him because we wanted the students to know French culture is not just from France or Quebec,” said DeBenedictis. “There’s a lot of cultures that have French as a first language.”

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