Last Saturday, April 6th, the African Society of Georgetown held their annual cultural showcase and fashion show, Abissa: Africa Unveiled. The show brought together a wide variety of singers, dancers, musicians, poets, and of course fashion that provided audience members with an enriching cultural experience and a fun night to remember. However, beneath all the fun, the most powerful aspects of the night were the moments that left the audience thinking.
Kammel Zennia and Band, a very talented group from Algeria and Morocco, kicked the night off with some music inspired by the culture of Northern Africa. This cultural diversity came out in their music as the audience got a taste of both their original works and folk songs from Algeria. Adding to the cultural experience were the various instruments Kammel and his bandmates used, everything from drums to harmonicas, which added to the Spanish-Arabian feel of the songs.
Kammel Zennia, however, was not the only musical guest to perform. A young, up and coming artist based in DC, Cecily, also graced the stage with her amazing vocals. This very talented young woman performed a song by an artist in Nigeria as well as one of her own works. Cecily’s vocal range and stage presence were breathtaking and certainly left the audience wanting more. Finally, Georgetown Senior, Stefane Victor also performed towards the end of the night and as usual he entertained the audience with his stunning voice.
In addition to these wonderful vocalist, multicultural improve group, Abomination Nation, performed a sketch framed around a dating show. In addition to their funny banter, the group played off the audience’s energy in a way that added another element to the sketch. Although not as enriching as some other moments in the show, Abomination Nation certainly helped to lighten the mood while still playing off some interesting stereotypes.
It would be impossible to have a showcase of African culture without some dance. For this, Omoge Dance Ensemble from Howard University and world-renowned Nana Malaya surpassed audience expectations. Omoge closed out the show with a high-energy number. However, just prior Nana Malaya fully immersed the audience in a performance that combined dance, music, and spoken word. Nana Malaya started singing in the rear of the auditorium and slowly worked her way down in the stage, making the audience apart of the performance. She further encouraged audience participation by teaching us a simple greeting and inviting several members up on stage to dance with her. The most powerful aspect of this piece was the way in which Malaya weaved her monologue on the evolution and uses of dance through moments of singing and dancing, which left the audience with a new outlook on dance.
The most exciting aspect of the night for the audience was the fashion show. The ASG presented a nice variety of pieces that showcased both more traditional African clothing as well as pieces with a Western influence nd several things in between. The show featured clothing from Kinetic Styles, Editalo Designs, Tru Vision Clothing, and Afro Barbie and Ken Inc. Further, it came as no surprise that all the models looked fabulous and had great chemistry with each other and with the audience.
Despite all of these other amazing elements, the most powerful and thought provoking moments came through spoken word artists, Galai Ceesay, and well-known poet and Georgetown Alum, Omekongo. At the young age of 18, Galai Ceesay, is already a wise soul. Through her story about travelling to Africa for the first time to be with family, Ceesay also called attention to several preconceived notions about the continent and suggested that we need to move past these stereotypes to fully understand our history.
Similarly, Omekongo, gave a polished performance of two poems, both of which also question American stereotypes about Africa. His first poem touched on the role the media plays as a “Weapon of Mind Destruction” in shaping negative images of Africa as well as Blacks in America.
However, his second work really hit home about what it means to be black in America. While I can only speak for myself, this work truly struck a cord with me.
At the end of the day, the ultimate goal of a cultural showcase such as Abissa is to share something new with audience members and to leave them with something memorable. Through the wide variety of backgrounds of each performer and the pieces they gave, Abissa truly achieved this goal.
Written by Courtney Hodge, News Staff Writer
Photo Credit: Princess Ama Anakwa-Appau