Concert highlights Afro-diaspora pride

Florida A&M University students and faculty experienced a new twist on African and Caribbean folklore Friday at the 16th Annual African and Caribbean Concert hosted by the Office of Black Diasporan Culture.

A plethora of artists, poets and musicians took the stage of Lee Hall Auditorium.

The show kicked off with a performance by Dromatala, a local African percussion group. The group, which is a subset of the FAMU Center for Caribbean Culture, educates people on African and Caribbean culture through arts.

Asegun Henry, a FAMU alumnus and Dromatala percussion player, said, “The audience experienced a feel of Africa.”

Janet DeCosmo, associate professor of humanities and advisory chair in the Office of Black Diasporan Culture, said the concert was an entertaining way in which students could learn about African and Caribbean culture.

“A lot of people have said FAMU doesn’t have any culture, but this concert lets them know different,” DeCosmo said. “This is the biggest concert we’ve had in a long time.”

Poet Saddi Khalil expressed the moments of his journey from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, through his poem “Dusty Road.” Khalil has been featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and has performed worldwide for the last 15 years. He asked the audience to join him as he recited his poetry.

The Prophecy Music Project entertained the audience with dynamic sounds from the conga drums, and the Ase Dance Theatre from New York was among the entertainment.

Some students preferred certain aspects of the concert over others.

“My favorite part of the concert is when the drummers performed,” said Chantal Walker, 24, a second-year graduate medical student at Florida State University. “I liked the way they freestyle off each other’s energy.”

In addition to the drummers’ performances, there were dance performances.

Adia Whitaker, an award-winning choreographer, led Ase in a dance piece titled “Ibo Musical Interlude.” The performance depicted a man cutting himself in the cheek with a sword. This illustrated the proud and majestic nature of the Ibo tribe of Nigeria, who preferred suicide to slavery.

“That scene reminded of me of the movie ‘Beloved,’ when the mother tried to kill her children so they wouldn’t become slaves,” said Nicole Fowler, 24, a graduate agricultural science student from Tallahassee.

The dancers’ vibrant costumes and advanced footwork enhanced the performance, which was well received by the audience.

The concert concluded with a performance much like a West Indian carnival. The FAMU Rhythm Rushers danced in colorful and festive costumes, which they designed and decorated themselves.

Some students connect their experience at the concert to family history.

“I try to attend many cultural things as much as I can,” Walker said. “I try to learn as much as I can about my culture, since my family is from the Caribbean.”