In a night of entertainment and education filled with dance, music and skits, the African Students’ Association’s sixth annual African Cultural Show was an attempt to raise awareness of African culture and contributed to the relief efforts of the ongoing Ethiopian drought.
The show, titled “African Lights: The Connection,” was held at the Michigan Union Ballroom Saturday night.
LSA junior Eileen Buckle, vice president of the African Students’ Association, said the show began six years ago in order to educate the University community about Africa and to dispel the myths and stereotypes that most people hold about African culture.
“Many people do not realize the rich contributions that Africa makes to the world, from exporting petroleum products to the production of precious stones. The purpose of our organization is to unite and to actively educate our community about the richness of African culture,” she said.
Buckle also emphasized the need for educational awareness in order to remove personal and social misunderstandings about African culture.
“We want all persons who come to this show to not only be entertained, but to also be educated,” she said. “Our goal is to get people to think about their own personal misconceptions and how these hinder them from expanding mentally and socially. In times such as these, it is through education that we gain true liberation.”
The show’s theme centered around the relationship of native Africans and those who have been displaced throughout the African Diaspora, which began in the early 16th century and displaced tens of millions of Africans from their ancestral continent to various sites throughout the western world.
“We will explore the divergence amongst blacks that has occurred from the time of the Middle Passage up until the present era,” Buckle said.
LSA freshman Anisha Patel said the show dispelled inaccurate perceptions about the African culture prevailing in today’s society and presented the true Africa.
“People tend to think Africa has not progressed in terms of what we perceive as progression,” Patel said. “But the show showed clearly that was not the case.”
The show presented a wedding proposal skit that illustrated the conflict and tension between American blacks and native Africans due to cultural differences. It also showed a depiction of the civil rights movement during the 1960s, a fashion show displaying colorful traditional clothing, a fusion of modern and traditional dances and a dramatization of the Middle Passage – the route of the former slave trade.
“I think it portrayed everything correctly, such as the civil rights and the Middle Passage,” Engineering freshman Tayo Ladeinde, whose parents are from Nigeria, said. “The wedding proposal was accurate and it showed the conflict and tension well.”
Part of the proceeds from the show will be donated to an Ethiopian drought relief fund. Since last year, Ethiopia has faced a severe drought that has forced the displacement of many communities. As a result, there are high levels of malnutrition, mortality, illness and threats to food security, especially in the Afar, Somali and western Harerge regions. Close to 6.5 million Ethiopians, directly affected by the severe drought in 2002, are facing another famine of the same magnitude that was reached in 1984 through 1985, according to the World Vision Ethiopia Officials.