Advocates of Culture and Knowledge discuss diaspora

Angela Higgins and Andreyan Martin pound the drums at the African Diaspora sponsored by the Advocates of Culture and Knowledge on Saturday. Higgins and Martin, a brother and sister team, learned to play from a master drummer in New York City and have performed throughout Akron Public Schools, at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Severance Hall and many other venues. Photo By Hannah Potes

Ryan Collins

Traditional ethnic garb flowed with dancers’ bodies as they danced to music unlike most hits on the Billboard Hot 100 right now. Eschewing demure performances, the artists moved and made music celebrating their cultures.

Oscar Ritchie hosted an event celebrating the African diaspora Saturday evening. The event, put on by Advocates of Culture and Knowledge, used music, dancing and speeches to highlight Africa and its people.

Diaspora in action

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“We’re a university of people that come from all corners of the world, and in that sense, we have a lot of differences, but we also have a lot of common goals,” said Idris Syed, lecturer in Pan-African Studies and speaker at the event. “We all sort of want to know something about each other and to have an understanding of each other’s culture.”

Syed’s speech focused on diasporas, a term he defined as a dispersal of people. A dinner featuring African dishes followed.

“We want to just shine light on the diaspora because a lot of people do not know what the diaspora is,” said Jonathan Jones, president of Advocates of Culture and Knowledge.

Wendy Wilson-Fall, chair of the department of Pan-African Studies, spoke after the dinner about Africa and how it’s viewed. She said everyone who grows up in America has a little bit of Africa in them.

“Africa is the mother of humankind. Don’t diss your mama!” Wilson-Fall said. “I feel no shame at all about Africa. I am immensely proud of Africa.”

Monique Lopez, a community member who attended the event, brought four of her children with her. She said coming from Mexican-Indian heritage and having African-American children, the event was very meaningful.

“It is important to keep them cultured and aware of what’s going on, not to lose that,” Lopez said. “We tend to, being in America. We tend to lose where we came from.”

Along those lines, Syed said, “We have a common humanity that we share, and we need to really investigate other people and how we can live together.”

Contact Ryan Collins at [email protected].