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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, 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 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 held on February 16th 2019, organized 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, story telling 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 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 thru a link on Event Brite (the event was free). My previous expectations were 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, my expectations were met.

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 V.I.P guest and a sense of security.
  • 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). There was enough food for every guest, but I think they ran out of gnamankoudji quite quickly.
  • 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 in parliament. By the way, big shout out to this man who, despite his position as an MP of another district, seems dedicated to the Black communities of 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 a more important participation among the young Black people.
  • The event was free, but you unsurprinsingly had to pay for your drinks. Until there, no problem seen. However, if you wanted to pay by another mean than cash, good luck. If you paid by credit card, you were charged an extra fee, and by debit card, you had to arm yourself with patience, since it could easily take you 5 minutes just to have your payment processed. Lesson learned: Always bring some cash if you plan to drink in events!
  • The program before the dinner was well-prepared, but when the dinner was served, it became soooo 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, people stopped paying attention, because no one had a clue where we were at. There is something I hate the most at any type of events: when none of the organizers, even more so the attendees, know what is going on…and that’s what happened at some point.
  • The DJ game sucked. Sorry, but whoever you are, take that L. I don’t know who hired you, but why refuse to play the songs we want? I would ask him, for him to tell me ‘oh I can’t, I can just play the ones in my playlist’ *rolling eyes* LOOOOL!!

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. However, for Black people of African descent who come to support activities organized by Black people, it gets less relevant. This is what I at least felt.

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 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 representing #AfricanExcellence shamelessly!

Did you have the chance to attending in yout 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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