ASA to celebrate history, pride, music and identity in Afrolution
We were. We are. We will be. These are the lines that both divide and unite the theme of this year’s Annual African Culture show, an annual tradition created by the African Students Association that fuses music, dance, comedy, fashion and rich storytelling to explore the roots of many African students on campus.
LSA senior Lukonde Mulenga, president of ASA joined the club her freshman year in hopes of connecting with other African students in a way that was unavailable to her in high school.
“My parents are from Zambia, and not many Zambians immigrate from Zambia,” she said. “So where we were living the closest people from Zambia to us were an hour away.”
LSA junior Seun Oladipo, ASA’s social media chair, said she hopes to ensure that the Culture Show includes a broad and diverse representation of Africa’s 54 countries.
“We try and get a very regional representation,” Oladipo said. “The campus can be very much West African-based, so we try to span different regions within Africa. It should be a really educational, but really fun experience for everyone.”
“I want to leave with ASA knowing that they are representing the entirety of Africa and not just one part,” Mulenga added.
Historically, the African Culture Show has been lively and well-loved and Oladipo said she feels the pressure to exceed expectations for this year’s performance.
“I think one of my biggest challenges this year is making sure that people aren’t complacent,” Mulenga said. “We did really have a good show last year, and I feel like some people came into it thinking, ‘oh it’ll be amazing,’ not really realizing that there is a lot of work that goes into making the show.”
About 60 people are involved in producing Afrolution this year. The group gets support from their graduate chapter and, has worked to bring in acts from outside of the University of Michigan community and even from outside of the United States to perform.
The fashion show, which features students exclusively, is a mainstay of the African Culture show. The group holds open auditions for models and combines African-inspired fashions with authentic clothing donated by students and their families over the years.
“One place where the theme is really apparent is in the fashion show,” Oladipo said. “You can see the progression of the clothes, how it was pre-colonial to how a lot of Africans are dressing now to where you see the fashion aesthetic going in the future.”
She noted that with the show in particular, attendees will see some differences — though they'll have to wait until the show to find out what they are.
“Something that we’ve been trying to do differently is the way the fashion show is structured,” Oladipo said. “In previous years it’d be sectioned off by the tempo of the walk, so we’d have a slow walk and a medium walk and a fast walk, and we kind of stuck with that for a bunch of years.”
In combining history, pride, music and identity, ASA links generations to celebrate what it means, has meant and will one day mean to be part of a vibrant African community.