Follow the drumbeat home

When reflecting on black history, most people hone in on well-known aspects of the culture. Common imagery is that of the slave era or a tired Rosa Parks. Some are even reminded of the moving sermon excerpts of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

But closer inspection of history shows that African culture is globally widespread. Many Haitians, Hispanics, Jamaicans and Americans are of African ancestry. During the slave trade, many West Africans were taken to different countries, where they developed a new identity.

The African Student Association and Club Creole, a Haitian-based organization, are teaming up to display this cultural interplay through dance, music and poetry Saturday night at 7:30 in Cooper 103. In an effort to display how the two cultures are connected, organizers call the event Tambou Lakay (pronounced TAM-BOO LA-KAI), which means to follow the drumbeat home, or back to Africa.

Club Creole President Maxwell Garcon said that while the syncopated sound of the drumbeat is the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Africa, it is also significant to Haitian culture.

“The drum is as important to Haiti as the guitar is to rock ‘n’ roll,” Garcon said.

Illustrating the historical dispersion of Africans in Haiti, both organizations will perform a sad yet uplifting theatrical tale of how all the African Diaspora cultures, symbolized as children, were once connected to one continent – mother Africa.

When Haiti gets kidnapped from Africa, it will lose the closeness that it once had with the mother. But the play will show that Haiti won’t forget its African roots.

Attendees will also have a chance to sample a variety of Haitian and African foods, such as rice and beans or fried pork and plantains. ASA Vice President Yomi Afolabi said that unlike previous years, the two groups will separate the foods by culture so that people can more readily distinguish the food tastes.

In addition, members of both organizations will present a fashion show depicting each background. Afolabi said the Haitian culture will model clothes from the pre-colonial era to present day, and the African culture will dress up like key figures of the continent.

Organization leaders say they want all cultures to learn about the African and Haitian countries and how the two coincide with each other.

“Once we can learn how to share the wealth of knowledge, we can better ourselves individually and collectively,” Afolabi said.