On Saturday, Oct 26 Harambee, Knox’s African culture club, commenced the annual African Week with the African show in Kresge Recital Hall. The show included a talk from Dr. Nathaniel Williams, fashion shows, poetry, music and a dance show.
“African Week is where we actively acknowledge whether it is our ancestral roots or our ‘Africaness’ if we are from Africa. And appreciation for African culture and people,” Ravie Boungou, junior, member of Harambee and choreographer for the African Show’s dances said.
This year’s edition of the show was called “Roots,” referring to 2019 marking 400 years since the official beginning of the African slave trade to America. The show doesn’t focus on the past, but rather centers on African diaspora and the recent trend in many people, most publicly celebrities, traveling to Africa.
“A lot of stars were going back to their ancestral mother countries to just kind of be in that motherland. So we just wanted to bring those roots back and acknowledge that in some way, shape or form our cultures, our identities, our this, our that have ties and roots back to Africa,” Boungou said.
A focal point of the show was the dance performance, since dance is ingrained in African culture through its importance in most communal gatherings. People dance at everything from weddings and baby showers to funerals. Dance also connected different African tribes when there were language barriers separating them. The importance of dance, in particular to the idea of “rootedness”, pertains to feeling connected to those who came before you. Boungou choreographed her dances to have tradition African stylistic elements.
“A lot of the dancing with the flat footed is to stay grounded.,” Boungou said. “That no matter what you do, and no matter where you go and what you see, you never forget where you came from, and the people that came before you and the shoulders that you are standing on to be the individual that you are.”