The Brock East African Student Association (BEASA) hosted their third annual open mic night event in Mahtay Café’s community room. A congregation of BEASA members, students, various other club representatives, BUSU executives and community members gathered on September 24 to support BEASA and enjoy the local talent.
Hibo Ahmed, current president of BEASA, claims that the goal of her club is “to enhance the East African community of Brock University as well as the Niagara region.”
“However,” Ahmed continued, “Our activities don’t solely pertain to the East African community, we want to enrich the entire demographic to celebrate diverse cultures, traditions and foods.”
The main aim and objective is therefore to educate everyone on the livelihood of not only the East African community but other minority cultures as well.
The group holds this open mic event every year at Mahtay Cafe and Lounge in order to serve as a social mixer for BEASA members and other Brock clubs. The crowd was welcomed and hosted by BEASA members Lydia Collins and Musaab Ali whose warm personalities and natural chemistry made the event feel organic.
The intimate setting and low lighting complimented by a twilight stage was the perfect setting for the performers. Included in the acts were representatives from Live for Dance who performed a contemporary hip hop number receiving loud applause and calls from the audience. Several individual singers as well as groups like the Badger Choir also took to the stage to exhibit their vocal abilities. Keeping aligned with BEASA’s guiding principles, the performances were selected to represent not only East African cultural traditions but rather a diversity of proud heritage to be showcased on Saturday.
“I stand by this event, I truthfully believe it was a genuine success. By far it’s been our most profitable event as well as the best promoted. BUSU President Patrick Foster was able to attend and so many other clubs within Brock participated our own event so we were able to represent so many cultures and talents. I was impressed by how personable everyone was and how they were all trying to be as approachable and welcoming as possible,” said Ahmed after the event.
One of the highlights of the evening was when Shiro Kinyanjui performed a spoken word poem inspired by the social activist movement, Black Lives Matter and the issues surrounding the treatment of racial minorities. Her words artistically addressed the rise of racial tensions as mass media increasingly covers the murder of black individuals at the hands of authority figures. The relevancy and colourful use of rhythm and beat made the message almost palpable. Kinyanjui delivered her lyrical speech masterfully as her words rocked the audience and her message sank into every individual. “Her performance gave me chills. She used her space on stage to convey such a powerful and important message” said BEASA’s Public Relations Officer, Lydia Collins.
BEASA hopes to hold more community events in the near future. The club has planned one of such events to take place on November 10 at 5:00 p.m. in Brock University’s facilities where a general open forum style meeting will take place. Furah, meaning ‘fun’ in Swahili, will be an afro formal themed event will kick off the second semester for BEASA on January 21 at an off campus venue.
“I strongly believe cultural based clubs are vital to any student population because we need like minded and relatable people in our community. We can’t just broadcast and educate people based on one culture. Other people have of diverse backgrounds need to get involved; it’s a two way street to be more inclusive. Representation is key, there is misrepresentation in media through stereotypes, cultural appropriation and institutionalized racism. We’re supposed to be educated at university so why not reach out to real people rather than just textbooks,” concluded Ahmed.
For more information, email BEASA at firstname.lastname@example.org, and find them on Twitter: @brock_beasa, Facebook: Brock East African Student Association and Instagram: @BEASA.BROCK