Allison Milton/The AS Review

Traditional African dances are just one of the things that event-goers will see when they attend the African Caribbean Culture Night. At 5 p.m. on Feb. 20 in the VU Multipurpose Room, the African Caribbean Club (ACC) will host a dinner in order to share aspects of their culture with students and the community.

“[The purpose of the event is] to teach people who don’t know about our culture. We welcome them and we are inviting everyone from the community,” said Yusuf Beshir, president of ACC. “We are more than happy to have them there.”

The formal dinner is the 12th annual African Caribbean Culture Night that the club has hosted on campus.  The event will feature authentic African and Caribbean dances, music and food.  The dances will be performed by ACC club members, Beshir said.

“Everyone who comes is going to have a good time,” he said. “We guarantee that.”

The dinner will also be an opportunity for students and community members to donate money for earthquake relief in Haiti. Currently, the club has set up boxes in the community to collect money, which they will donate to a relief fund.
For Beshir, joining the ACC was exactly what he needed at Western to build friendships and get support from his peers. Beshir joined the club during his second quarter at Western and immediately noticed a difference in his grades and his social life.

“I was a little bit lost, but once I found this club I did better in school and I made a lot of friends that I could not have made anywhere else,” he said.

Beshir moved to the United States when he was in third grade from the Oromia region in Ethiopia. The ACC is made up of about 50 percent students from African nations, Beshir said. But, the ACC welcomes those who are not from Africa or the Caribbean into the club.

“We welcome anyone that wants to be a part of the ACC,” he said. “We’re like a big family.”

While members of the ACC are busy planning their culture night, they also have other club events coming up this year. Although the African Caribbean Culture Night is their main yearly event, next quarter the club is planning to have bowling nights, attend culture shows at other universities and get together as a group and talk about current events, especially those involving issues related to Africa or the Caribbean such as the Haiti earthquake, Beshir said.

According to their Web site, the club is dedicated to representing their cultures in a positive light.

A statement on the Web site says, “[We] are determined to eliminate the unfair labels and stereotypical views of our homelands. Africa, for the most part, has been depicted as an AIDS-infested, war torn, hunger-struck continent by the mass media. Although these are issues that face some African countries, there are many positive aspects of Africa and its people that America will never be able to view on television.”

Tickets for the African Caribbean Culture Night cost $12 for students; the cost is $16 for general admission. Students and community members can purchase their tickets at the box office. Beshir advised purchasing them early, as the event has a tendency to sell out.