The bass of West and East African boomed throughout the MultiCultural Center Friday, April 17 as UCSB’s black community flooded into the building to celebrate African culture. At the sixth annual African Culture Show, presented by the Pan-African Student Union (PASU), the audience consisted of UCSB students, professors, teaching assistants and 70 visiting high school students of Black Student Union’s outreach program. Nigerian hits won the crowd over as they waited for the event to begin.
Dressed to impress, PASU chair members kicked off the night by introducing themselves and their African country of origin. Comedian Kanmi Fakeye, the host for the night, worked the crowd as he demanded noise from people of Ethiopian, Nigerian, Ghanaian and African-American descent. Fakeye introduced Dr. Akudinobi, who graced the stage in traditional Nigerian garb. Dr. Akudinobi discussed the importance of knowing and embracing origins, stressing the importance and relation of origins to the African diaspora. He earned nods from the crowd as he explained how a lack of cultural appreciation can lead you into being “made over” by outsiders. Akudinobi concluded the motivational talk with a brief documentary.
Before the dancing began, Fakeye piggybacked off of Dr. Akudinobi’s presentation and told jokes about audience experiences and his own embarrassing moments upon arrival to America.
“I’m looking forward to the dancing and the food. I want to try all the different African food,” PASU member Ahadit Tilaye said. “I’ve never seen West African dancing because I am East African, so I am excited.”
In no way did UC Irvine’s dance team disappoint Tilaye and the rest of the crowd. The audience shouted, jumped and clapped at the sight of the dancers. The four-lady squad murdered the stage with their barefoot routine. Completely in sync, their hands curled in the air, their hips rocked in every direction and their hair whipped all over the stage.
UCLA’s dancers hopped onstage next. Refusing anything less than the excitement received by UC Irvine, UCLA’s three-lady team stomped all over the stage with ferocity. Wearing bright red shirts and straw skirts, the dancers incorporated modern American hip-hop moves, like the whip, with traditional African dances and music. Such combinations created admiring yells from the audience.
“UCLA was turnt, they hit that whip,” first-year Sean White.
Demonstrating unity and kindness, UCLA’s dancers encouraged UC Irvine’s team to return to the stage. A dance competition ensued. UCLA’s leading lady kicked off the battle with a bang as she jumped in the air and landed in the splits before strutting off the stage, generating a dramatic effect that the audience loved. As the two crews continued to dance it out, nobody was able to recreate the energy and commotion that started the competition. The talent and flexibility of UCLA’s lead dancer was too good.
Inspired by the two dance teams, Fakeye and the crowd engaged in their own dance competition. The male participants were hesitant to demonstrate their skills, however, the female contestants put forth their best effort with fancy footwork and hip-winding. Some of the ladies caused gasping and bulging eyes from the audience.
Even the high school students of BSU’s outreach program blessed the stage with their dancing. As the night came to an eventful end, the rowdy and pleased audience shuffled out of the MCC to nibble on the African food provided by PASU. The cultural pride and appreciation that Dr. Akudinobi encouraged early in the night was showing itself in every individual by the end of the night.