In a completely unprecedented year, the ALA community has been brought together virtually numerous times. However, one of the most impactful community gatherings occurred around the Arts. At the very beginning of the lockdown In March 2020, the alumni engagement team hosted the very first Open Mic Night. The event was attended by over 300 people in the ALA community, including alumni, current students, and staffulty members. Fourteen members of the community performed at the event concluding the evening with a staffulty choir performance. The virtual event ranged from spoken word poetry to live musical performances.
The event was an impressive success in terms of attendance and in its effort to unify the community. “The focus on the creative arts was so powerful and unifying. We were all captivated and overwhelmed by the talent in our community. ALA launched the Moving Africa through the Arts campaign during the pandemic in order to ignite the arts at ALA and demonstrate the importance of the creative arts in ALA’s young leaders’ leadership journey. It is important to use the arts to build community around the arts and create an annual culture of celebrating the talent in our community.” Trevor Langat ’12 shared looking back at the impact of last year’s Open Mic Night.
The event was so excellent that the ALA alumni engagement team has turned it into an annual event. Virtual events have been a beneficial addition to the ALA alumni network, having the ability to bring together the alumni network who are stationed all across the world. This year’s Open Mic Night was expanded beyond just the ALA community and into the wider AL Group Network. This year the event took place on Saturday, April 24th including performers from ALA, ALX, ALU Rwanda, and ALC Mauritius. It is the first virtual event led by the ALA team that is collaborating in this way, bringing together the wider AL Network. The event was hosted by two MCs, Rolinhlanhla Zinyemba ’17 who is currently enrolled at ALU Rwanda and a Year 2 student Leshamta Maina ‘19. This year’s Open Mic Night attracted numerous performers and viewers under the theme “Stories and Expression Across Multiple Art Forms”. The acts included a diverse number of art forms, specifically music, spoken word, dance, fine art, stand up comedy and more.
A common thread throughout the event was the Moving Africa through the Arts campaign. Towards the end of the event, the attendees and performers were reminded of their role in raising funds and leaving their mark on campus through the Creative Commons construction project. This year, we have made a concerted effort to ignite the arts in our community. The culmination of this campaign will take place on July 10th, which will be an evening of celebrating the ALA mission, showcasing the extraordinary talent on the African continent, and of course a much-needed opportunity to just (let loose and) dance. We look forward to sharing video highlights of the Open Mic Night and more details on the upcoming ALA Sherehe with the community.