Three generations of Black history empower Black youth through a night of performances
Different generations of African diaspora share their stories through performance in celebration of Black history month
After taking a break during the COVID-19 pandemic, NEXIM International Development Organization returned to Canada to honour Black history month. NIDO is an international social enterprise aiming to support communities in Uganda and improve access to education and human rights. This year, they created a series of events to promote their core focus of the four Es – Education, Environment, Equality and Economic Sustainability.
Of the events they organized was 3 Generations of Black History Come Together, a night which showcased talent from Black artists in Hamilton at the McIntyre Performing Arts Centre at Mohawk College on Feb. 27.
This event started in 2013 and the last time it was held was in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this event was to raise awareness and provide a cultural exchange by bringing artists’ talents and putting a spotlight on Uganda as part of their continuous efforts to support the country. So far, they have helped to build a secondary school and they are hoping to build more primary schools.
The event featured three generations: Minnijean Brown-Trickey, a civil rights legend; Emmanuel Jal, a war child survivor from the Sudan war, peace ambassador, NIDO ambassador and music artist and the Suubi Fusion Troupe, a dance group consisting of NIDO’s secondary school students from Uganda ages 10 to 20 years old.
Danny Wells, project lead and communications manager at NIDO, wanted to help Black artists share their stories and talents around the world.
“A lot of [the guest speakers and performers] came from underprivileged families that may have led to some difficulties because of . . . economic instability, where they live, where they access education . . .This opportunity [allowed them to] share their culture and talents,” explained Wells.
By showcasing the challenges, history and difficulty accessing education encountered by the African diaspora, it spread messages of the importance of providing opportunities for self-empowerment to unlock one’s full potential. Due to various factors, those from Uganda often have to overcome barriers to receive these opportunities. By having the performers share their stories through arts and music, Wells wished to prompt attendees to reflect on the injustices they have experienced in their own lives and how they overcame them.
“We hope people . . . [feel] the power of the music, the power of culture, the power of story, whether we've been disenfranchised in our own lives,” said Wells.
A significant part of the event was music and dance, particularly through Suubi Fusion Troupe and Emmanuel Jal, who primarily focused on celebrating African tradition and evolving global culture through their performances.
The students of Suubi Fusion Troupe shared their personal stories while healing and moving on from their past traumatic experiences through their performance using African music and drums.
Wells hopes visitors left the event wanting to spread the word about the talent and stories from the performances. He also wanted to inspire everyone to share their stories, make changes in their communities and be creative.
“Our economy is growing globally – in terms of different nations working together [and] building together. Especially . . . [in] Canada, a land of so many different immigrants, it's important that we can find common ground and work together as a global community,” explained Wells.
Overall, it is important to take time to reflect on global historical events that deprived Black youth of their fundamental human rights. This event aspired to bring together a community of likeminded individuals and establish a strong connection with the performers and audience, while sharing stories about three generations of Black history.