Sankofa—Blair's annual celebration of Black History Month that includes a stunning variety of song, dance, spoken word and more—brought history, culture and tradition to life Friday night, in its last year with Vickie Adamson as director. All of the performers brought an energy and commitment to the show that resulted in an eye-opening array of talent and culture.
Act I started off with a character played by senior student director Kalanzi Kajubi talking to his grandchildren (Anoa Hawkins, Mariam Jiffar, Brianna Moreno, Yuchabel Sanon). While his granddaughters want to throw a party, Kajubi is wary of the kinds of modern music and dancing that they like, and encourages them to think about their roots and the people whose words and songs had a profound impact on the world today. The girls (grudgingly at first) agree to try, and that's when the excitement begins.
The African Dance, choreographed by Alice Conteh, Mildred Goode, Emani Hears, Larissa Ketcha, and Haja Kalokoh, started off the show with a bang and immediately set the tone for the entire night—one of energy and passion. The show, which was also co-directed by Michelle Edwards and Pam Bryant, continued with a series of songs and poems, including Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song", sung by Jirah Querubin, and Frances Watkins Harper's powerful poem "Bury Me in a Free Land", recited by Grace Olawuni, Yuchabel Sanon, and Anoa Hawkins.
Brian Le on piano, Aidan Keys and Kayin Mazyck on cello, Marco Saah on drums and Conor James on banjo provided musical accompaniment, and having that element of live music elevated the whole show. The first act ended with a moving rendition of Curtis Mayfield's "Keep on Pushin" sung by Akosua Hawkins. At the end of the song, a line of performers behind Hawkins lifted up signs with the words "Black Lives Matter" on them, reminding the audience of recent events and the ever-present challenges and racial injustice that face society even today.
The second act, like the first, was chock-full of passionate and genuine performances. Performer after performer took center stage with elegance and poise and brought words and music to life. The pace of the show was helped by the storyline of Kajubi and his family. After a set of performers went, the scene shifted back to Kajubi and his granddaughters talking, and each time the granddaughters were more and more excited by what they were seeing and learning through their exploration of the past. Kajubi was not just the grandfather, however, and held the audience captive as he performed an original poem entitled "My Name is Not Mzungu."
There was an astounding amount of talented singers in the cast, and Kayla William's performance of the Aretha Franklin hit "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" had the audience grooving before Andre Colon slowed things down with a cover of "All of Me" by John Legend. The shows' exciting finale was a fashion show full of vibrant African clothing, and afterwards the full cast gathered one last time on stage and invited the audience to stand up and sing along as they perfumed the Black National Anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" by James Weldon Johnson.
Sankofa is a unique show in that it presents such a wide variety of performances. In one night you get to hear Maya Angelou's timeless poems followed by Bob Marley's inspirational call to "Get Up, Stand Up" followed by the legendary dance moves of Michael Jackson. Sankofa is first and foremost a celebration of the rich and vibrant African American culture, with its roots tied deep in African tradition and history, and all of the supremely talented cast members and directors should be extremely proud of what they have done.
Sankofa will be having a second performance on Wednesday, February 25 at 7:30
Adult tickets are $10 and student tickets are $6
Aidan Keys is features editor for Silver Chips Online
Brian Le is a staff writer for Silver Chips Online
Mariam Jiffar is a staff writer for Silver Chips Print
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