by Anushree Pratap (UG’23) and Sana Bashir (UG’24) (TW: SH, SA, casteism, victim-shaming) Since September 2021,
Clinton Manoti, Class of 2020
Ubuntu 2019, the Indo-International cultural exchange festival, organized by the AUISA in collaboration with the The Cultural Ministry took place on the 5th of April 2019. Ubuntu in Nguni Bantu translates to ‘humanity’. It is a term reflective of the philosophy ‘I am because you are.’ The primary aim of this festival was to strengthen social-cultural bonds among students of various ethnicities and nationalities. It also aimed to establish a prosperous environment for the exchange of opinions and cultures in line with representing the oneness of students across various universities in India from different nations and continents. This was the 2nd Ubuntu festival having had the first one in 2018.
The event started with a panel discussion in the MPH, as guests from different parts of Delhi and Delhi NCR trickled in. Absera Mekonnen, the AUISA President led the formal inauguration of the event and officially opened the panel discussions. The discussions were divided into two categories, formal and informal. The formal panel discussion was comprised of: Mr. Girish Sinha, a former Colonel in the Indian Army and now part of the transition team of the UN’s Secretary General, Mr. Jayaramulu Lingutla, Secretary of the Indian Federation of United Nations Association, Mr. Jamal Uddin Ahmed, Counsellor of Bangladesh High Commission and Mr. Merveil Ntambwe Ngongo, President of Association of African Students in India. This panel broke down the topic of ‘cross-cultural identity’. What it meant to exist as one with completely different cultures in a single space. The complications and the difficulties that come with such diversity.
The second panel discussion was an informal one. It comprised of: Mr. Ajeck Nobert who is the Events Coordinator of Association of African Students in India, Mr. Chidozie Agumadu, Embassies and High Commissions Coordinator of Association of African Students in India, Mr. Papa Assane Mbengue who is the counsellor in charge of Political Affairs, promoting Investment, tourism, trade and development of private sector partnerships at the Senegalese Embassy and Mr. Mohit Puri, Local Committee President, AIESEC in Delhi IIT. This panel was responsible for deconstructing ‘The role of globalisation in constructing culture.’ What it means to live in a so called globalised world and how that translates to people’s behaviour and interaction with each other. Does easier connectivity around the world lead to a whole new culture, does it influence the culture already present in a place? These were some of the questions these panel tried to address.
The participants then headed to the mess for a sumptuous lunch and thereafter to the atrium for an afternoon of dance and music. There was a mix of music from different countries and continents, and clearly, all the participants were mesmerized by the other countries’ moves and dances. Meanwhile, subway was very much in attendance including the sale of local artefacts that speak of culture in and across India. The atrium was decorated with flags across the world as the attendees all clad in their local attire. It was colourful, and one could almost have confused it for ‘holi’.
The following afternoon was the highlight of the event. There were various performances ranging from Tibet, Bhutan, Senegal, Ghana, Kenya, India and finally a Fashion show. Our very own Abhinaya dance group set the stage with an electrifying performance. The Tibetan dance group gave their organized yet peaceful dance. Roshan Roy, a first year, got a standing ovation for his captivating singing voice. There were sighs and applause all over Dr. Reddy’s Auditorium. The last performance by the boneless trio of Apollinaire Apo, Aicha Fall and Tenzin Choezom was one of the highlights of the events. They combined dances in and across Africa, with fast and slow beats, in French, English and other African local languages. The crowd was moving along with them and they clearly longed for more. The fashion show was another highlight. Everyone who took part was astoundingly beautiful led by the event’s organizer Nebiyat Seifedin. All the participants who wore their traditional clothes turned and twisted as they smiled to the crowd wittily. It would be disrespectful not to mention the ever funny MC, Dabwitso Zumani Phiri with his quirky moves on stage and his knack for humour. He kept the audience entertained at all times together with his partner Aditya Mohan. This part ended with an open session where everyone was invited to the stage to dance to the famous 2010 World Cup songs by Shakira and K’nan, ‘Wakawaka’ and ‘Wavin Flag’ respectively.
With over 200+ participants across the city and a collection of dignitaries, Ubuntu 2.0 explored cultural diversity among a range of other topics. It was a fun day where everyone could just come and feel accommodated. Later in the night, there was a dance session in the atrium to call off that eventful day.