The African Caribbean Society of Southern Miss hosted African and Caribbean Night to celebrate African and Caribbean culture through food and dance while also teaching about the history behind it on Thursday, March 21 in the Thad Cochran Center.
The night started with a speech by associate professor of history at Southern Miss Douglas Chambers, Ph.D., who spoke about the historical significance of the African Diaspora and forced migration, which is also known as the transatlantic slave trade. Chambers described how the survivors of this forced migration maintained their culture and how their culture influenced America.
“In the African Diaspora, the Africans influenced the cultures of the Americas in many ways,” Chambers said. “Through language, through their skills, through music, food, art, faith, religion and perhaps most importantly of all, the greatest gift was the will to live, to succeed and endure. That is something that has carried through ten generations now into the 21st century.”
A dance crew came onto the stage and performed a dance to further celebrate both African and Caribbean culture. There was also a fashion show where the members of the African Caribbean Society used the runaway-like stage to show off outfits from Africa and the Caribbean with vibrant colors and complex patterns.
The food for the evening was also a celebration of these cultures, including traditional cuisine from Ghana, Nigeria and the Caribbean. While dinner was being served, there was a trivia game that highlighted common misconceptions about Africa and the Caribbean and provided general education about the geography and culture of the two regions.
Freshman computer engineering major from Nigeria and a member of the African Caribbean Society Alexander Kehinde Haastrup said this aspect of the event was important for the student body to experience.
“We want to bring out our culture and bring it into a different perspective,” Haastrup said. “There are a lot of misconceptions about Africa, and we proved a lot of them wrong. What I hope that people take home from this is that Africa is not just Africa. It’s not just a land of homeless people. It’s a place with a rich cultural background and a rich cultural diversity. I hope that people see this about both Africa and the Caribbean.”
The president of the African Caribbean Society and junior biological science major Mariam Atobiloye echoed this sentiment. Atobiloye said that this celebration of African and Caribbean culture is what inspired her to form the organization.
“When I came here in 2016 for my freshman year, I would go around campus, and I would see a lot of people whose parents were immigrants from Africa or the Caribbean, and I would even meet some Nigerians in class. I was feeling very homesick,” Atobiloye said. “So I talked to my friends, and we came together to form this organization to promote diversity and to create a safe space for people coming from a far away home, to create a home away from home.”