African group brings cultural beat

Grasping how to celebrate something as intangible as cultural diversity can be difficult, often not surpassing good intentions.

Throughout February, Americans celebrate Black History Month. For some, this might mean nothing more than a brief acknowledgement. But this week, the University Activities Commission is bringing in a performance that can’t help but be noticed.

As part of Black History Month, UW-Eau Claire is bringing in performance group Jabali Afrika for a special concert on Jan. 26.

This will be Jabali Afrika’s fourth-consecutive year performing in Eau Claire. The group is currently on tour, making several stops in the Midwest.

Jabali Afrika, which is based out of Kenya, is as multi-faceted as it is far reaching. The group performs a mix of original compositions and traditional African music.
Senior Christine Webster said the group’s stage show can’t help but be noticed.
“It was exhilarating,” Webster said. “It totally exceeded my expectations.”
The group also integrates intense dance and choreography into the diverse musical performance.

Webster saw the group’s performance two years ago, and said it was so highly energergized that the entire crowd couldn’t help but get involved.

“It’s like watching musicians and athletes at the same time,” Webster said. “By the end, everyone was on their feet.”

The free performance, which will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Schofield Auditorium, is open to anyone. Stuettgen said attendance at the group’s performances has varied over the last four years.

“We’ve seen a lot of students, but also a lot of members of the community,” Stuettgen said.

A musician may face a problem filling the auditorium with sound, but Stuettgen said she isn’t worried about that.

Jabali Afrika Concert
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Date: Tonight
Place: Schofield Auditorium
Cost: Free

“It’s a very intimate live experience,” Stuettgen said. “Even in a huge place like Schofield, it has the same feeling as a show at the Cabin, which is a much smaller venue.”
The intimacy of Jabali Afrika’s performances is apparent in the high level of audience participation.

Alicia Edmonds, a special events chair for the UAC, said the audience can’t help but get involved.

“They have so much energy and talent,” Edmonds said. “It’s great to see people come together for such talented performers.”