A culture show
This spring we tagged along backstage as members of the African Students Association got ready for their annual Culture Show. The ASA is an important group at Western University celebrating the power in diversity. Aiming to represent and foster African culture through community interaction and outreach. In doing so, the ASA coordinates countless events and initiatives with a social, political and academic focus. The culture show put an emphasis on representing African culture through vibrant showcases of song, dance, poetry and more.
STORY BY DINA HADDISH
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KERRY SSEMUGENYI
The energy is always palpable on the day of culture show. Performers arrive early to rehearse, makeup is being applied, cultural attire can be seen everywhere you look. The anticipation is high, as this event is one of the club’s biggest attractions. A significant amount of time and effort is poured into the show’s conception and execution. This show gets progressively better every year; this year’s performances proved that this is a trend, not a fluke.
The African Students’ Association (ASA) is a cultural club at Western University that was initially started to celebrate African culture at the university and around the City of London. A central part of the club’s mission is to provide a home away from home for African students. On March 8th 2019, ASA put on their annual culture show at the Wolf Performance Hall, entitled Hidden Treasures: Jewels of Africa. The culture show’s main goal is to showcase the beauty of Africa through song, dance, spoken word poetry, and modelling.
The show opened with host, internet sensation and comedian Aphrican Ace. The host was entertaining and kept the crowd laughing with his many anecdotes about African parents and life back home. The music acts kept the momentum going, including singer and guitarist duo Fiker and Nathan, saxophonist John, and rapper Kofi. During the hour-long intermission, the club served African cuisines from a variety of different countries. There was jollof rice, fried rice, injera (with an assortment of stews), mandazi, plantain, and spicy chicken. The food is always one of the highlights of the show, with the majority of the food coming from caterers and restaurants based here in London. The Nigerian foods came from Vas Cuisine and the Ethiopian food came from Enat Restaurant.
London has become a city chock full of diversity throughout the years, with the university bringing in a unique demographic of students from all around the world. Events such as The Culture Show are of utmost importance, considering that London is becoming increasingly heterogeneous. The event creates a safe space for students to celebrate their heritage and feel a little bit more connected to their African identity. As a visible minority and a first generation Canadian, the culture show represents the highlight of my academic year. It allows for the celebration of the African culture and makes me feel more at home than any other space at the university. For those who are members of racialized or minority groups, there is an enormous pressure to create spaces for ourselves, or else they simply would not exist. The African Students’ Association are taking the initiative to create this space for themselves and others, and filling that gap in our community. Events such as the culture show allow us to not only celebrate our heritage, but be in a space where we will be accepted for our culture.
‘‘For those who are members of racialized or minority groups, there is an enormous pressure to create spaces for ourselves, or else they simply would not exist. The African Students’ Association are taking the initiative to create this space for themselves and others, and filling that gap in our community.’’
The culture show is so important not only in the context of the university, but also London as a whole. Having said this, attendance was not solely restricted to those affiliated with the university – the club does a wonderful job of reaching out to London locals. There are near 6,000 African born people living in London, with many of them in attendance. London simply has no other event of this calibre that showcases the beauty of African culture.
The club strives to hold events that appeal to people of all races and ethnicities who have an interest or curiosity about Africa; the land and the people that inhabit her. With over 200 people in attendance, this year’s show was definitely a sell-out success. With the bar set so incredibly high, I look forward to seeing what the club has in store for London next year.