By Ivy Ogbonnaya
MSU’s African Students’ Union recently held its annual Gala, celebrating 30 years and bringing attention to bold topics: Pan-Afrikanism and Womanism. In addition to the plethora of arts showcased, Aphrican Ape served as host and kept the crowd thoroughly entertained.
This year’s gala creatively honored notable revolutionaries including Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Fela Kuti, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. DuBois, Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba, Assata Shakur and Miriam Makeba.
The first skit, entitled “State of the Union,” gave us a look into the political ideologies of the aformentioned leaders. Tensions began to rise as the actors channeled the real-life dissonance between Garvey and DuBois, resulting in mass confusion and disgust from the other leaders following ad-hominem colorist epithets from DuBois. Shingi Mavima, who played Marcus Garvey, transitioned us into a beautiful poem entitled About Last Night, where we were taken on poignant journey through Africa, illustrating the reality that is the demons by which she is still plagued.
The show included cultural dances from East Africa, representing Ethiopian and Oromo traditions, as well as West African dancers who lit up the stage with moves including shoki and kukere. Angolan singers beautifully serenaded the audience with 80s ballad Minha Voila by Angolan artists Irmaos Almeida.
The show, of course, was not complete without some African couture. Models debuted handmade gear from The RMB Collection by Rita M. Benissan (Instagram: @thermbcollection), Caveman Clothing (Instagram: @caveman_life) by Farai Masimira and Ankara Closet by Judie Mpamira. Zuzu African Acrobats also captivated the crowd with a remarkable display of talent, flipping and climbing, jumping rope and more.
The blaring sax of Fela’s tune Lady brought in the second skit, entitled “Africana Womanism,” which gave insight into the ideological dissonance between world-renowned womanist Funmilayo Kuti and the widely known misogynistic views of her son, Afrobeats pioneer and human rights activist, Fela Kuti. The scene illustrated the lack of accord between mother and son–an on-target microcosmic representation of the realities of black women and men inhabiting the same sphere. The scene was brought to a close with a womanist poem written by Ivy Ogbonnaya and recited by Nyasha Makoni. More beautiful Africana Womanist words surfaced during a reading of an open letter from a mother to her daughter.
Gala 2015 was brilliant, melding Afro-politics and artistic prowess, creating an enlightening and entertaining showcase that we will certainly remember for years to come. Be sure to check out ASU’s website: asumsu.wix.com/info, as well as other social media for updates on future events: Twitter: @asu_msu, Facebook: ASU MSU, Instagram: asu_msu