Celebration of culture
Black History Month event honors heritage
A member of Fua Dia Congo plays a drum for the audience during the annual Black History Month event held in the Knox Center on Thursday. George Morin / The Advocate
African heritage came to the Knox Center on Thursday with Congo drummers and African cultural presentations.
The African-American studies department and Black Student Union focused on an interactive presentation of African heritage in the annual community event "Celebrating Blackness: From Africa to America."
"Events like this are extremely important to remember where we come from and to obtain a grasp of our true culture," Gateway to College Resource Specialist Joel Nickelson-Shanks said. "I'm very grateful that I was selected to be the master of ceremonies and help be a part of such a great event."
Classified Senate Vice President Leila Greene was happy with the turnout of the event.
"It went very well, it was great to see a lot of students participating in a college event," Greene said. "It's very important for students to be informed about African heritage and its culture, and not to be influenced solely by stereotypes."
Most of the audience members were CCC students there for extra credit, but they were involved nonetheless, as expressed by the loud ovation at the end of the celebration.
Sociology department Chairperson Manu Ampim was pleased with the event overall, but highlighted the student presentations.
"The student presentations were great," Ampim said. "All of the presentations were very positive and beneficial for the students to hear."
The event hosted student presentations, which consisted of mostly poems.
Jonathan Wheat, a CCC alumni, spoke at the event and shared his past experiences while attending the campus.
Wheat talked about the Speech and Debate team and how it helped him become better at speaking in front of people.
"(The Speech and Debate team) helped me hone my speaking skills and helped me become better and organize my many responsibilities," he said.
One highlight of the evening was the drum performance by Kiazi Malonga and Fua Dia Congo of Oakland. Students in the audience began to dance and sing to the drum circle.
"Drums came before texting, Facebook and Twitter," Malonga said. "It was our original way to communicate from village to village in African culture."
The dynamic drummers performance seemed more like a concert that everybody was happy to be a part of. Audience members swayed their hands and sang along with the drummers.
"I absolutely love those drummers, they're great," Greene said.
English major Brian Snipes and nursing major Anita Kahnsonphou were delighted by the drummers as well.
"The drummers were definitely the highlight of the evening," Snipes said. "They got the crowd involved and brought a very positive mood to the evening."
Kahnsonphou said, "When the drummers began to play my friends and I got up and started to dance, it was fun."
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