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The beat of the Djole Dance and Drum Company called Charlestonians to the opening reception of Gerald Bybee's photographs of Ghana, and the MUSC Colbert Library doors opened to a sea of colors as guests gathered, many sporting vibrant African fabrics or traditional African garb.

The dancers took the stage, and partygoers abandoned their conversations to crowd around the action. Loud beats reverberated through the air, and the performers flew into motion. Barefeet pounded the floor as the girls twirled, stomped, and jumped throughout the show. The crowd burst into applause as the dancers came to a rest, and they yielded the stage to men who played several African call-and-response songs, their native sounds captivating the audience.

After the live performance, people began making their way upstairs to enjoy a photography exhibit from artist Gerald Bybee, whose images from Ghana were awash with color. Guests slowly made their way through the exhibit, pausing frequently to mingle, refresh a wine glass, or enjoy some of the delicious savory bites from the Wickliffe House.

OKURASE: Portrait of a Village celebrated the opening of Bybee’s exhibit as well as increasing awareness and fundraising for Project OKURASE. Project OKURASE works to address the HIV/AIDS crisis in Ghana by helping vulnerable and orphaned children who are impacted by HIV/AIDS in their family and village. The organization strives to provide skills, training, and formal education to children, as well as working to connect orphaned children with families that have the capacity to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of a child.