The rhythmic beat of African drums reverberated throughout the Afro-American Cultural Center as buoyant dancers filed into the room. The echo of the dancers’ bare feet pounding the floor was matched by the audience’s steady clapping.
More than 70 students gathered at the Af-Am Cultural Center on Saturday for “Crank Dat for Kenya,” a performance event aimed at raising money for victims of the recent political violence in Kenya. The show featured primarily African-themed performances by Yale student groups, including a capella singing by Shades and Asempa, dance and drumming by Konjo! and slam-poetry by Word. The event was organized by members of IvyCORPS, the charity branch of Ivy Council, a nonprofit group comprising student leaders from all eight Ivy League schools.
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Students who attended the event, which cost three dollars per person, said it was rewarding to see student groups and individuals rally around a single cause. David Walker ’11, a member of Ivy Council, said the performances were an incredible showcase of Yalies’ talents.
“Coming to events like this is why I came to Yale — to experience different cultures I’ve not been exposed to yet and to be amazed by the talent of my classmates,” he said.
The event also received support from the Af-Am House, which provided the space for the event, as well as the Yale College Council and Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee.
Each year, Ivy Council sponsors a charitable organization through a variety of events and programs at each Ivy League school, Krystal Flores ’10, head of IvyCORPS, said. This year, the organization chose to sponsor the African Medical and Research Foundation. After the recent developments in Kenya, where December’s disputed presidential election sparked ethnic violence that has killed hundreds, AMREF has asked donors to raise $1.5 million for support efforts.
While Ivy Council had planned the event during the past semester, the violence in Kenya inspired them to give the event an African theme, said Yuzhe Feng ’11, one of the event’s co-organizers.
Saturday’s event raised over $200 for the charity, Flores said.
In addition to funding, students interviewed said the event provided something just as valuable: awareness.
“I believe that events like this are a good way of uniting people … and enlightening them about what’s going on in the world,” Arziki Adamu ’11, who attended the performances, said.
By bringing together a variety of different groups with a central theme to their artistry, leaders thought they would be able to draw the largest number of students, Rosibel Hernandez ’10, co-organizer of the event, said.
Performers in the event said they were glad to have strong audience turnout, since the audience engagement helped to invigorate them even more as they sang and danced.
“It seemed like a lot of people were into it. There was a lot of audience energy,” said Hai-Vu Phan ’11, a dancer for Kanjo!.
Still, organizers knew they could draw even more students for the evening by holding a dance after the performances. Admission to the dance — which ran until midnight — was set at only one dollar, and students who attended the performances were admitted for free.
“We figured most people want to go out for dancing on a Saturday, so why not have a performance and a dance?” Hernandez said.
Ivy Council will continue to sponsor AMREF throughout the rest of the semester, and student leaders are planning future events that will help to benefit victims of violence in Kenya. Ivy CORPS’ next major event at Yale will be a speed-dating evening in the Silliman College dining hall, schedled to be held around Valentine’s Day.