Kudos to the Africa Society of Georgetown for putting on an awesome cultural event last night! The evening got off to what seemed to me to be a quintessentially catholic school start, with two white guys in jackets and ties banging on drums, but the Georgetown Percussion Ensemble was pretty talented and things only accelerated from there. The evening consisted of various fashion shows, dances, and even a little spoken word. Performance groups from other local universities – American University and the University of Maryland – took the stage and I also saw quite a few people wearing Howard apparel.
Following Georgetown’s World Percussion Ensemble, AfroBeatz, a new dance troupe at Georgetown took the stage and got down to some Nigerian tracks by P-Square and Timaya:
They were followed by Haile Supreme, a local artist of Ethiopian ancestry who had a prodigious amount of energy (at one point running off the stage well into the audience), but he did not strike me as being especially talented, although he noted that he will shortly be opening a show for Talib Kweli.
The evening was hosted by Nne nd Ike (of Nigeria?), who have been broadcasting their own show on YouTube for over two years and did a great job of curating the evening, even speaking with the performers after their sets, something I rarely remember emcees doing in my own college days. I suspect their reach is much larger than this blog’s ever will be.
Following a dance performance by Georgetown student Stefanie Palencia, the first models took the stage, which really got the crowd going. The three fashion sets were sponsored by a variety of designers, I was particularly surprised to see that the Nigerien designer Alphadi was among them. Most of the performances, as with the composition of the ASG executive board were dominated by females (the percussionists being the lone exception), but the fashion sets had several bare-chested male models who really brought the house down. I myself was feeling a bit pervy, pushing thirty and surrounded by women barely out of their teens dressed as if they were going to a P-Square concert.
The American University African Dance team kept everyone’s juices flowing and a NaeNae dance-off (I’m definitely getting old) really set the house on fire before intermission.
Vivian Ojo, a Georgetown senior of Nigerian and Namibian extraction got things started with the second act, with a reading from her poem The River Between Us, focusing on the legacy of slavery in the Americas. One line that particularly resonated with me ‘I was from the jungle, but it was there [the US south] for the first time I hung in trees.’ I spoke with her briefly after the show and hopefully I can do a profile on her:
The second act had two fashion sets and performances by the University of Maryland’s step team, featuring a skit with a strict African parent twist and UMD’s Africa dance group, AfroChique, which got things a bit removed from the Nigerian/Ghanian bias of the evening by performing to some Ivorian songs and a track that sounded Congolese.
Abissa was great, but the demographics really struck me. As previously mentioned, women really carried the weight of the evening, and at a school where roughly 60% of the population is white, that group was present in small numbers, primarily sitting amongst themselves. I popped into the after party at the student center where there was even less racial diversity. This particularly struck home as I walked back to Dupont Circle, passing Irish pubs on M Street with long lines of preppy white Georgetown students.
However, the crowd was much more mixed than that of an ASG event I attended last semester and like the hosts, I was shocked when they called out for the Zimbabweans in the house to make some noise and were met by silence. Perhaps I am reading too much into very limited observations, but I’m inclined to go with my gut instinct.
The event had free food and unlike the recently concluded Howard and GWU ASA events, there was no entry fee. I encourage all to go next year so that I have less reason to make my demographic complaints.