This weekend was ACE, the African Cultural Evening! Even though the cultural evenings take place on just one day, the whole week before is filled with preparations and rehearsals for that special night. It is tradition that students take pictures with the theme of their cultural group to promote their cultural evening. The ACE students all dressed up in their national costumes and painted the map of Africa in vibrant orange on their faces, you can see some of the photos below:
During lunch, we also had an ACE flashmob! Everybody was just about to finish their plates, when suddenly African music started playing and the ACE students jumped in the middle of the canteen and started moving to the rhythms, amazing us with their dance. Just a few seconds later we all started clapping to the beat. Video will be up soon!
The Cultural Evenings usually start with a special dinner prepared by the students of that cultural group. Since it is a special event, all students are dressing up. For ACE each residential had a dress-up theme: Block 1 students came as African Idol stars, Block 2 as royalties, Block 3’s theme was wildlife (that is why I was dressed up as a cheetah) and Block 4 students were African warriors. The costumes were brilliant and the canteen has never been so cozy and colorful.
The menu included delicacies from all over Africa. We took lots and lots of pictures and our tummy’s were quote full after trying all the delicious dishes.
After dinner the cultural show takes place in the Assembly Hall, which includes a play and dances in between. While only the students of the cultural group are starring in the play, all students are welcome to join the dances. I participated in the Kwaito dance. Kwaito is a style of music that originated in South Africa in the late 1990s, it is an “urban soup” of African Jazz and House music.
We all sat down in the assembly hall and you could feel the excitement and happiness in the air. The lights went off and a map of Africa was projected on the white wall of the stage, showing the countries our ACE students are from in different colors. We were then drawn into the funny story of two thieves, police corruption, an impeccably lazy king with a beautiful secretary and the hardships of forced marriage, all accompanied by wild animals and beautiful African dances. The ACE show was absolutely amazing; stereotypes, culture and fun were harnessed in the service of heartwarming and funny storytelling (even involving sweet jokes about our teachers and LPC life) making us all cheer and clap to the rhythm of African music and screaming the names of our dear co-years who were up on stage.
The performance ended with the national anthem of Tanzania. All ACE students came up on stage and started singing. Their voices came together as one strong choir, filling the room with a magic atmosphere, and I realized how beautiful and sweet Swahili sounds.
When the assembly hall turned dark after the closing dance we clapped our hands as fast and hard as we could, screaming the names of our co-years.The second the lights went on again, everybody ran up on stage to hug the ACE students and congratulate them on the wonderful performance. It was a very precious and emotional moments and joyful laughter filled the assembly hall.
After the ACE show it was time for another canteen party and we danced till midnight, until the speakers gave up and everybody returned to their residential blocks with a big smile on their face.
Thank you ACE for the wonderful evening, the delicious dinner and the precious moments! A big “thank you” to Eli, one of our American second-years who recorded the entire performance. Click here to watch it!