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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Celebrating Africa

Moving to the beat of their own drums at Makambo night. - Photo by Kory Vergets
Moving to the beat of their own drums at Makambo night. – Photo by Kory Vergets

On Saturday, May 10, the African Hut Club put together their annual celebration of Africa and African culture known as “Makambo.” The event took place in the Snowden auditorium, filling the all three hundred seats by the time the show started around 6:30.

Scheduled events for the evening consisted of many dance groups giving renditions, mostly, of African tribal dances of the various regions in Africa, though some of the dance troupes danced to modern hip-hop, while another troupe represented Haiti. Aside from all the well-choreographed dances, several poets read their own poetry concerning Africa and the struggles many African-Americans still face in the modern world. Also on the bill were songs, an African fashion show, which showed off the various clothing styles from different regions of Africa, and an AIDS presentation by the Black Student Center.

The host for the event was Michael Blackson from the cable channel Black Entertainment Television (BET). Blackson, who is a comedian and a host on BET, made sure the crowd laughed and had a good time in between the scheduled performances. Blackson often interacted with the crowd, usually by hassling a few people in a good-natured way, which all seemed to take well and enjoy.

Some of the events that stood out and really got the crowd excited were the dance troupe known as the R.A.W. Stepperz. This was one of only a few dance troupes that danced to hip-hop instead of popular African music. The troupe, consisting of three men, started out dressed as Michel Jackson, before shedding their hats and gloves and igniting the crowd with some acrobatic dance moves.

All in attendance seemed to enjoy the African fashion show as well. Many people in the crowd seemed to know the models, so there was a fair amount of interaction between the crowds and those modeling.

Early on in the event, the Black Student Center put on a presentation about AIDS in Africa. Some of the figures they provided were startling. According to their information, 4.5 people contract AIDS or HIV every minute in Sub-Saharan Africa and 270 people die each hour. The speaker for the presentation described the disease as an epidemic in that region, a problem which has severely hindered progress in that area of the world.

On a lighter note, to get the crowd involved, a slide show of the different flags of Africa was given and those in attendance who happened to be from any of these countries were encouraged to shout out when their flag appeared on the screen. Initially not many people shouted out as the flags representing each country began to appear in alphabetical, but once the flag of Nigeria was shown, it seemed as though a third of those in attendance stood to shout. The Kenyan flag also caused some noise, but Chad was the only country that no one seemed to shout for.

Students from UMass Dartmouth and Amherst also took part in the show. Dancers from Dartmouth took part in several of the earlier dance troupes and an Amherst student recited a poem.

With the exception of the event starting an hour late, it went well and ran fairly smoothly. Some of the people sitting near the entrance to Snowden had a hard time seeing, as many people stood in the aisles after all the seats were taken.

An after party was given to all who either performed or attended the event. The party consisted of a plethora of snacks and soda, as well as music and dancing.

Thanks need be given to the African Hut Club for yet another good show. Thanks also to the hosts of the event, Michael Blackson and Monisola Kehinde. Lastly, but certainly not least, thanks to all the performers and choreographers who made the show entertaining.