Last Friday, November 9th, was Angolan Culture Night at Jim Thorpe Multicultural Center. One of my good friends is from Angola, and was helping set up and coordinate the event. Pedro was busy, so I didn’t get to see or talk to him until the end of the night. But I am really glad that I went.
First, one of my friends who I haven’t seen since freshman year was there. He was a senior when I was a freshman, and he was also an RA in Walker Tower where I lived. He wasn’t my RA, but we were good friends. We sort of lost touch after he graduated, so I was really surprised and happy to see him.
Secondly, all of the acts were really great. The first performance was a love song by a student named Futura. And he had an amazing voice. The song was well suited to his range, but also, even though it was sung in a local language, it was beautiful to listen to. I found myself really wanting to sing along, but obviously I didn’t know the words. He also really knew how to work the room. He walked from the stage and through the aisles and tables like a singer on a cruise ship. It was really cool, and I think I’m going to try to find that song for my own playlists.
There was also a traditional/contemporary mashup dance, Portuguese song on the ukelele, a fashion show, and a trivia game about Angola’s history, geography and culture. Then the MC’s took some time to acknowledge that not all of the people who worked to put the night together were from Angola but that lots of African student came together to celebrate the upcoming anniversary of Angolan Independence. For instance, one of the MCs was from Mozambique.
Angolan Independence was a multi-national affair in many ways. Not only did the US, Cuba, and Russia have skin in the game during the actual war and the political circus that followed, but after securing independence, Angolans went to South Africa and fought for their independence as well. As one of the dancers pointed out, the fallout is only just starting to settle, for while independence was achieved 44 years ago, the civil war stemming from different political ideologies/parties only ended 16 years ago.
The final act was a dance by the Angolan dance crew which won Eve of Nations last year, which I missed because I was studying abroad. But it was cool to see the dances, and afterward, everyone was invited to dance. It really was a cool night and a good time, and if I could improve on one thing, it would be that more people should have come out to experience it.