Concert heightens awareness of African-Caribbean culture

The African-Caribbean Concert held in FAMU’s Perry-Paige Auditorium opened last Friday with the beating of drums as a harmonious blend of African-American spirituals. Keith Simmonds and the Office of Black Diasporan Culture presented a night of dance, song and rhythm.

Jermaine Olaefun Robertson performed a ritual called libation. He explained, as he poured water out of one cup into another, that this ritual was performed in reverence to a spiritual god.

A capoeira group called Grupo Bantu Beira Mar mixed dance-like movements with a series of high kicks and swift arm movements. Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian dance form that incorporates martial arts elements as a system of physical discipline and movement.

“I loved performing tonight,” said capoeira dancer Kenneth Harris. “The thing about Capoeira is that we feed off people, so if the crowd gets hyped we get hyped.”

Kenneth Harris, a native of Brooklyn, New York, has been a part of Grupo Bantu Beira Mar for almost 10 years. Harris explained that his Capoeira name is “Bodao Negro,” which means big black goat in Portuguese.

“They give you a name based on any individual thing, the way you look, the way you play or your personality,” said Harris. “I got my name because of the way I looked, I used to have a goatee.”

The FAMU Rhythm Rushers Junkanoo Group entered Perry-Paige Auditorium single file lead by their male drummers. Female members of Rhythm Rushers took to the stage while the whistle blowers had the audience on their feet and clapping their hands. Junkanoo’s beginnings predated emancipation, when slaves were given three days off each year, New Years Day, Christmas and Boxing Day on Dec. 26. It was during this time frame that slaves were allowed to celebrate.

“The group started back in 1997, here on FAMU’s campus with natives from the Bahamas,” said Jamia Newbold, female leader of Rhythm Rushers and native Bahamian.

Newbold explained that the group’s focus was to share the Bahamian culture on FAMU campus. The FAMU Rhythm Rushers’ goal is to heighten the awareness of what they do as performers and why they do it.

” In the beginning we had no funding, we were on our own,” said Jamia. “As the years progressed we got bigger and began to raise funds on our own. Now we have a fellowship program with the group.”

The concert ended with the audience clapping and dancing into the halls of Perry-Paige Auditorium. Aisha J. Ridgeway, a senior secondary English student, was pleased with the concert’s cultural offerings.

“I absolutely loved it,” said Ridgeway. “The best part was the Rhythm Rushers, I also enjoyed the TCC African Drum & Dance Ensemble.”