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Black History Month Event – African Day on The Hill

Hey the tribe, welcome (back) to my blog, hope y’all are having an amazing one! At the beginning of the Black History Month, I promised y’all that more focus would be put in writing about everything revolving around Black excellence. I figured out that one of the things that would help bring Black excellence to light are, among others, articles about Black History Month events by and for the Black communities, around Black people’s achievements, and encouraging Black initiatives.

As you may know, I recently wrote an article about my experience at the National Black Canadians Summit, held in Ottawa, on the first weekend of February. If you didn’t read it yet, click here, enjoy and please feel free to leave your comments, positive or negative (constructive criticism preferred, thank you)!

As I stated in that article, seeing how well-established the Black Canadian communities are in this country overwhelms me and makes me grow more and more proud of being Black, especially since I moved in the National Capital region a year and a half ago. There is indeed this strong will from the Black diaspora in the nation to shine and stand out, and you can’t imagine how glad and excited I was to hear about this other event called African Day On The Hill that would be held on February 16th, 2019 at the Parliament Hill.

About African Day On The Hill

African Day On The Hill is an event that took place, as its name states, on the Parliament Hill with the aim of celebrating the African heritage, cultures, food, music, and entertainment, through various performances, a fashion show, storytelling while recognizing the involvement of people of African descent in the betterment of the Canadian society.

Hosted by Chandra Arya, the MP (Member of Parliament) of Nepean (in the western part of Ottawa) and organized by the African Canadians Association Ottawa (ACAO) along with the Black community leaders, African Day On The Hill Planning Committee was looking into bringing the larger Black community together, highlighting on the UN International Decade for People of African Descent with a focus on the past, present and future.

I heard of that event during one of my long daily sessions on social media, as I fell on Black History Month-related events. I was invited to register to the free event thru a link on Event Brite. I was expecting a festive event held on a symbolic place bringing together African communities with music, dance, yummy food with a bit of luck, a chance to mingle and network with my fellow African siblings, and I can say that, for the most part, I didn’t leave disappointed.

The yee

  • The application of a policy of restricted access only to the ones registered for the event. As soon as you entered the building, you were greeted by security officers who checked up your ID and looked if your information matched the one on the guest list. Then, you were directed to a security clearance process like in the airport, after which you were granted access to the venue. I was quite pleased by that as, at the first impression, I felt like a bodyguarded V.I.P guest.
  • The venue: the location was well-chosen, centrally-located, close to public transportation, with free parking. The entire event took place in a big and nice room I found quite fancy. Guests were invited to sit around a small plate of chin-chin, a West African snack. On that point, I congratulate the organizers for having found this amazing spot, looking forward to attending more events there.
  • If you know me properly, you can’t separate me from food…ESPECIALLY when it’s free! At the halftime, around 8:30pm, we were offered a meal. We were invited to help ourselves around a buffet at the hall. There was white and red rice, chicken, tomato and meat stew, fried plantain, assorted salad, as well as gnamankoudji (ginger juice).

  • The performances: we had the chance to have a fashion show exposing attires from various African & Caribbean countries, a group of Yoruba (southwestern Nigeria) men and women dancing and singing their traditional songs, a group of Baganda (south-central Uganda) women dancing on Ugandan traditional songs, just to mention them, blessing our eyes and ears throughout the event. It was a pure bliss!

Yoruba dancing and singing traditional songs

  • The presence of political and social figures: I had a chance to meet the MP of Hull-Aylmer, Greg Fergus, one of the six Black MPs, out of the 338 sitting at the parliament. By the way, a big shout out to this man who, despite his position as an MP of another district, remains deeply involved in and dedicated to the Black communities in the Ottawa-Gatineau region.

The nay

  • Lack of advertising: Even though the event was sold out, advertising on more social media platforms than Facebook would have been clever of them, to ensure more participation among the young Black people.
  • The program before the dinner was well-prepared, but as soon as the dinner was served, it became very disorganized. The event was supposed to be a gala, during which awards would be given to the recipients during the supper, but as soon as it was served, the program became messy. Performances continued, but people stopped paying attention as no one had a clue where we were at.
  • The DJ could have done a better job, as he was only playing lame songs from his playlist…but ay it was a free event so…

My expectations for the next edition

For the next edition of African Day On The Hill, more emphasis should be put on the achievements of people of African descent, less on showing African cultures. I had the impression to have just attended a folk event, which is good for people who want to discover more of Africa or just spend a good time. However, for Black people of African descent who come to support activities organized by Black people, I feel like it gets less relevant.

Baganda female dancers

Another thing: PLEASE!! Promote Black businesses and resources for Black people! Giving more exposure to serious Black businesses is a great leap to our economic success. Let’s empower each other and our respective communities!!

Conclusion

African Day On The Hill was generally great. I enjoyed my night, got to mingle with many people, had the chance to see Africa shine for another time at a symbolic place, loved the high amount of participation among the people of African descent. However, as specified in the previous paragraphs, some things could have been better done. Overall rating: 7/10.

I can’t wait to be attending more events of this kind. A special shout out to the MC and the few attendees who came dressed in African traditional outfits: boubou, umukenyero, Maasai-style beaded headwrap, Yoruba gele, you name it! You looked amazing! Continue to shamelessly represent #AfricanExcellence!

Did you have the chance to attending in your town an event organized by and/or for Black people during the Black History Month ending shortly? If yes, let me know in the comments shortly about your experience. Otherwise, tell me how you would set it up. I’ll be glad to read you, and share ideas with all of you! See you soon, the tribe!

Steve Rutikara

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