On November 2nd, Eastern’s African-Caribbean Union club (ACU) held the Akwaaba Festival had hosted this event for all to see and experience different afro-cultures on display. Akwaaba means “welcome” in the Akan languages, and, in holding the festival, ACU hoped to welcome the Eastern community to experience their different cultures. The club aims to “promote cultural awareness, serve the campus community with the knowledge of African and Caribbean history, culture and people, and to eliminate the stereotypes that have plagued the African and Caribbean people.” The event was hosted by MC Shama Shaazaam who had high hopes for the evening’s festivities and hoped that the audience would enjoy themselves.
“I just want them to have a good time first and foremost [and] to have more exposure to the different kinds of cultures that are going to be displayed on tonight, and to just have an extended knowledge about each country and their historical values” Shaazaam said.
The first performance of the night was a dance routine by a group called “M.L.J.A.B” which stands for the names of the girls of the groups: Marlyne, Leola, Jennifer, Allie and Bessie. Afterwards, Professor Jean-Louis gave an opening prayer in reference to Isaiah Chapter 56. After the prayer came the first modeling segment tiled, “Somebody Gotta Do It.” MC Shaazam introduced Youssouph Ndiaye who is the CEO and founder of motivational/clothing line brand “Somebody Gotta Do It”. His clothing line aims to spread positive branding messages to any circumstances that people may face in life. Moreover, their purpose is to take initiative in any dreams and aspirations that people may have. Their motto is “Somebody Gotta Do It. But why not us? Because if we don’t do it, someone else will!” Their goal as a motivational brand is for all to repeatedly say this to themselves daily; “You Can Do It!”
Following the fashion segment, El-Fatih Chase, who is a Junior here at Eastern, performed a song in the Kreyol language. Chase found himself in love with the Haitian culture and within a year, he taught himself the Haitian language by being around his Haitian friends.
After Chase’s performance came another modeling segment which featured, “AminaMuliks” clothing line. The line was started in April of this year by Miatta Jeh, as a graduating Physical Therapist student. During her last clinical affiliation, the director of the facility that she was interning at made a comment on her afro stating that, “it was not professional and needed to be tamed.” She was advised that if a change was not made to her hair, she would not be allowed to enter the facility.
In the midst of the discriminating remarks, Miatta was also preparing for her upcoming graduation from the Physical Therapy program and her graduation outfit consisted of the African fabric that she felt best represented her personality and she refused to compromise who she was. God placed it in her heart to start the clothing business to show the world the beauty of Africa and African women. AminaMuliks symbolizes the empowerment of women professionally and fashionably with their unique styles.
After this fashion segment came another performance by El-Fatih Chase on the piano and Senior Babz Johnson singing a song called “Assurance” by Davido. Then Drexel University’s African Fusion Dance team demonstrated a variety of African dance styles mixed with popular dance challenges such as the #thekikichallenge and #theshootchallenge. The performance was followed up by a powerful spoken word poem titled, “Unity”by Eastern student Cliff Brian.
The final events of the night included a third modeling segment as well as a dance performance. The third fashion show of the night featured clothing line, “Mixing Your Brand” by Founder/CEO/Designer Sarge Chesson who is also known as “Kash.” Mixing Your Brand clothing expresses an African culture mixed with an Urban style where they promote culture, diversity, etc.
The evening’s spectacular events concluded with a dance number by the ACU dance team. The club is looking forward to welcoming the Eastern community into more cultural experiences such as this in the future.