Celebrating Black History Month is a traditional way of highlighting the accomplishments and cultural values of black people. Although people, mostly from North America, have actively participated in this kind of celebration, the relative lack of a broad, Winnipeg-based, African community has resulted in a less satisfactory celebration.
As a consequence, planning and implementation of these celebrations are being undertaken by smaller organizations such as the University of Manitoba Zambian Student Association (UMZASA). For example, in 2010, the association managed to organize a cultural fashion show that received a reception by peers and faculty beyond expectations. This event attracted representatives from over a dozen African countries. The models were beautiful and the traditional stylish clothes were breathtaking and electrifying.
More importantly, towards the end of the 2010 Black History Month, the African Student Association (AFSA), in collaboration with the Manitoba University Kenyan Student Association (MUKESA) and UMZASA, organized an event called “Different Shades of Black,” which focused more on talent and history. It displayed raw talent from traditional dancing, spoken word poetry, singing, rapping and a brief history of black achievers. The traditional food catered by an African restaurant was delicious and assisted in embracing this tasteful part of our history.
The University of Manitoba has welcomed, in its international student community, an exponential number of black students that Winnipeg is fortunate to have. Such students could contribute significantly to this celebration since they are still fresh from Africa. Furthermore, it would be a delight to have them share their experiences with others peers and the willing public.
I would like to see more students come forward to organize events targeting Black History Month as a time to embrace and showcase their diverse culture. I would like to see concerts, art shows, cultural delicacy tasting, film premieres, café-type poetry, comedy, battle of the bands, rap battles, dance battles, debates, fashion shows, hair platting stands, business venture presentations and future infrastructure workshops organized by and around this large number of black students we are welcoming.
I am encouraging all African youth to be more involved in this wonderful tradition that is rich in history and academia. It is my strong belief that most African youth consider Black History Month to be for African Americans and those of Afro-Caribbean descent only, but I beg to differ — it is for all of us. It is an opportunity to celebrate what our forefathers went through to help our generation get to where we are now.
We pay a strong tribute to our history, tradition, culture and our glowing heritage. Black History Month is designed to fit in its organization a diverse amount of talent. I have made friends, exercised my skills, improved on leadership, organization, communication, learned new skills, helped others realize their talents as well as grasp a part of my history that I knew very little about. Therefore, I am challenging all African youth to use their skills to be more involved. It offers great rewards and unforgettable personal satisfaction.
Our generation has all the necessary tools to institutionalize change and make a significant impact on the world. So let us use Black History Month as a platform to celebrate our heritage as we look towards the future. Through Black History Month, we can ensure that new programs are introduced to transport us beyond Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream. Furthermore, let us take pride in things we value about our being black.
Happy Black History Month.