Eric Haynes/Courier The Kabasa African drummers and dancers performed in front of many students in the quad on Tuesday, February 2, 2016. They werer a part of the opening ceremony for the month-long celebration of African-American heritage at PCC, hosted by Ujima.

The quad was alive Tuesday afternoon as the Ujima program held their opening ceremony for Black History Month with the African group Kabasa Drummers and Dancers. The group shared the culture and variety of stories through dances and music.

Eric Haynes/Courier - Kabasa dancer Teresa Smith speaks to the crowd after the performance with the Kabasa drummers in the quad on Tuesday, February 2, 2016. The Kabasa African Drummers & Dancers were a part of the opening ceremony for the month-long celebration of African-American heritage at PCC, hosted by Ujima.
Eric Haynes/Courier –
Kabasa dancer Teresa Smith speaks to the crowd after the performance with the Kabasa drummers in the quad on Tuesday, February 2, 2016. The Kabasa African Drummers & Dancers were a part of the opening ceremony for the month-long celebration of African-American heritage at PCC, hosted by Ujima.

Many PCC students were interested in learning the ethnicity, and surrounded the group alongside Ujima students. A few of them who weren’t part of the Ujima program learned the dances and performed with Kabasa as well.

“Participating in this event was exhilarating,” Crystal Gordon said. “It’s wonderful to get in touch with my roots.”

Kabasa started off by teaching a song that ushered in the news keeper of the village called the Griot, followed by the dances that went along with the homage. This particular song and dance represents how news is delivered from an announcement, such as a baby being born or someone who is sick.

“A lot of the movements are movements that would take you off balance, but in fact the dance is danced for balance,” Keti Ciofassa, a Kabasa dancer, said.

The performance brought a lot of empowerment to the quad. It wasn’t just about the dances, but teaching the students mortality—reminding everyone that the culture isn’t indigenous specifically to Africans and African Americans, but to all of us.

“This is a part of who we are,” Ciofassa said. “Not just us people of African descent. but all people. The dance and the culture is humanity.”

Of course the dynamic group didn’t just explain the culture through song and dance but out loud as well. They made connections from the past to the future, as well as with current affairs, to impact the students in a positive way.

“If we know we where we came from, we know where we can go in the future,” Tyus Ahfiz, Ujima President, said.

The opening ceremony was a great success, and very open and energetic. The Ujima Program hopes for more as they continue to host events for the rest of this month. They hope to reach out to the larger campus to converse on important issues.

“We have the opportunity to celebrate our culture with the entire campus,” Gena Lopez, Ujima director, said. “Students will get a different perspective seeing us off campus being exposed to cultural events.”

The Ujima program will be hosting other events such as the Ujima basketball game on Feb. 18 and Blackademia, which is the closing ceremony on Feb. 25.

Click here to see more pictures from this event!

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