Perseverance, rebirth, and community: KARIBU’s Une Soiréee Céleste

On Nov. 13, KARIBU hosted its first African and Caribbean (AC) Night since COVID-19. The event was held in the Pause and was run in collaboration with the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion and the Office of Student Activities with food provided by African Foods & Gifts. The night was filled with dances, singing, and skits that encompassed the spirit and joy found within KARIBU. 

AC Night typically takes a month of planning. KARIBU executives spend this month before the event brainstorming ideas and plan themes. Then, the performers get to work. AC Night does not restrict performers — students are able to perform whatever they would like. This sometimes means a few last minute additions and changes, but the event was a huge success.

The performances also showcase student identities. AC Night “encompasses our traditions, our ideals, our culture, our heritage,” said KARIBU Executive Co-Chair AD Banse ’23. “We celebrate all cultures that our members partake in.” 

This year’s theme covered a story centered in Yoruba mythology and folklore. Yoruba traditions and other African religious beliefs were passed down throughout generations of the diaspora, despite their displacement. The show centered around the millennial festivities held for the birth of gods Oshun and Sango’s child. Mortals are invited to perform for the council of the gods, with the most entertaining performance gaining one wish from Oshun. Actors Faith Kaizer ’24 and Alliance Umutoni Ishema ’25 did a wonderful job of portraying the beautifully benevolent river goddess Oshun and her husband Sango, god of thunder and justice. The audience, who played an interactive role as fellow mortal spectators, was captivated by Vanesca Antoine’s ’25 performance of the god Esu. Antoine really brought to life the folklore by embodying the trickster-messenger between heaven and earth in her performance.

KARIBU as a club creates a space for African and Caribbean students to express themselves. AC Night was able to provide a significant platform to showcase the talents and experiences of people in KARIBU. “My role is to bring visibility, no matter what form,” Banse said. “We really showcase that people on this campus deserve a voice, deserve a space.”

However, this event did not run without its challenges. Not only does planning and organizing an event this large cause stress, but they had more than enough reasons to give up on the performance. Changing plans and availability of performers, issues with the venue, the hospitalization and temporary loss of KARIBU Executive Co-Chair Moyo Akinola ‘23, and many other inconveniences made planning difficult. “Hardship is no stranger to us. We are always fighting to make space for ourselves and our cultures, we find strength within our community,” Banse said. “We are not quitters.”

In the end, KARIBU persevered and put together an excellent show. Tyreis Hunte ’23 kicked off the event with a flash mob in Buntrock Crossroads on Nov. 8. It was an excellent way to bring attention to AC Night. “Tyreis is the GOAT [greatest of all time],” said Banse. Individual performances also brightened up the folklore skit. Antoine’s introductory dance captured the audience, and a band that played before intermissions highlighted the musical talents within KARIBU.

Students should look forward to KARIBU’s AC Week and a possible open mic night during interim.

rochaf1@stolaf.edu

larion1@stolaf.edu

 

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