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  • Writer's pictureNnaemeka Ali, O.M.I

Black Out Loud—A Celebration of Regional Capital Territory's Black Identity and Cultural Heritage

They say the Black History celebration begins when the February jamboree ends. For this reason, the Students' Association of Saint Paul's University and Atelier d'Innovation Social Muriel-Bélanger invited the public to a beautiful black heritage soirée on March 24th, 2023. The glamorous gathering at the centre of the same Atelier honoured the cultural heritage of the Afro-descent community members of the Ottawa-Gatineau areas. This event—Black Out Loud/Noire à tue-tête was an opportunity to celebrate the city's vibrant diversity and great cultural legacy through performance, food, fashion, and artwork.

It began with the first attendees arriving in smaller groups of twos and threes. Although the early birds might have wondered what was loud in such a quiet black outing, the evening was glamorous. Given the atmosphere, jibes, and jokes of the scenery and the conversation, one would have imagined whether Jove was secretly the guest of honour.

As the evening started to wound down, it was transformed into a great festivity, with many black youths of all origins and ages arriving in large numbers. They marched in, smiling boldly, like cheetahs, chattering like happy doves, determined to challenge a watch of nightingales. Ladies arrived balancing their waists, like Amazon soldiers, a reminder of Queen Nzinga and her soldiers celebrating the victory of their war against enslavers.

And while the ladies matched in displaying their gaiety, bravado and grace, the gents strode in focused on surmounting the arena with their shoulders raised. Similarly, to Wakanda, they marched side by side with their Dora Milaje announcing that the Atelier was the incarnation of the motherland on that day. Obviously, without compromising the friendship, they enjoyed with the first inhabitants of this indigenous territory. Thus, they walked boldly, knowing that in a sacred land, a sacred gathering of the sons and daughters of Anawo and Oduduwa, the Abiama, Agurzil, and Maher was taking place.

The evening was blessed with the rich multi and intercultural diversity of this National Capital Region. Children and young adults with milky skins and curly tufty hairs – evidence of multiracial interconnectedness and consummated relationships that abound in this land. Both friends and allies were happily involved in amplifying the loudness of the grand Saint-Paul University community's prodigious Black Out Loud event.

The variety of food flavours and the wide range of dressing codes highlighted the grandeur and diversity of the attendee's origins. Then, when the audience had been well-fed, they were ushered in to witness the screening of the short film Simply the Best by the Workers’ History Museum. A discussion forum with Kalix Breez, Mahisha Stevens & Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition immediately followed it. The moment was engaging, from the discussion on culture and identity to engagement and progress.

Other notable events of the soirée that preceded the robust music presentations were the “Strength Within” fashion show, animated by Charifa Labarang, and the presentation of young black entrepreneurs. The musical night featured, among other artists, Miss Friday Skye, notably with her song “Crossroad,” and Jacob Olorundare, a young Nigerian with the vibe of the legendary Fela Kuti. In his first Canadian presentation, this young Nigerian saxophonist impressed the audience with his execution of Maroon 5 Memories.

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