Next Friday, May 16, Africa Jam will take place. Featured will be the beats of Carnage the Executioner, a hip-hop artist and award-winning beat boxer; Karizma, an up-and-coming rapper from New Prague; Concept from Minneapolis; John Kerns and the Hemispheres, a rock band based out of Minneapolis featuring Gustie John Kerms, and Jessie Erickson, another Gustie with an abundance of musical talent.
What makes this event special, is that it is a charity concert to raise money for the nonprofit organization, Africa Jam. It is an organization serving youth in disadvantaged communities throughout the South Africa Cape region to promote faith enrichment, social upliftment, and arts and education programming.
Africa Jam was founded by our very own 1997 Gustie alum, Ellen Huntington Ruiters. After living and volunteering in Cape Town, Ellen founded the organization as an after-school bible study program that brought underprivileged youth, varying in race, religion, and language, together. The goal was to help remove the youth from violent and disadvantaged communities to lead them on a path that combatts drugs, gangs, and other negative life choices.
“In my opinion, the goal of Africa Jam is to end the negative outcomes of Apartheid. Gangs, violence, poverty, AIDs, and racism all are due to Apartheid and are things that youth in Cape Town are exposed to daily. Africa Jam provides guidance and tools to help youth live lives that do not take part in violence, racism, or gangs,” Junior Dan Bergevin-Smith said.
Organized by the Omega Kappa fraternity, one hundred percent of the proceeds will be given to Africa Jam to support the youth all over Cape Town.
“The concert was created while brainstorming ideas to raise money for our philanthropy. We decided a concert would be unique and big enough to make a strong impact and went with the idea,” Junior Dylan Michalec said.
Tickets are currently on sale for $5 for Gusties and $9 for the public, and the concert will feature almost five hours of music.
“We chose to do a concert, because Africa Jam puts a large emphasis on music and the importance it has due to music being a universal language,” Junior Rhett Schwichtenberg said.
Africa Jam now reaches more than 13,000 youth a year, ages 9-18, in 22 schools and nine townships. The program is flourishing and has more than 200 volunteers each year, plus five year round staff and several part-time staff working in the schools.
“Having Africa Jam as our philanthropy is one of the reasons I joined the Omega Kappa fraternity. They take frequent mission trips to Africa Jam in Cape Town and connect with Gustavus to provide J-Term trips to Africa Jam. This not-for-profit is a huge part of the Gustavus community and the Omega Kappa fraternity,” Schwichtenberg said.
Schwichtenberg and the Omega Kappa fraternity truly believe in the impact Gustavus students can make on both the community of Cape Town and the youth growing up there, simply by attending the concert.
“I am looking forward to all my brothers coming together to be a part of something that is bigger than our fraternity to impact the Gustavus community in such a strong and positive way,” Schwichtenberg said.
Africa Jam will be a night jam-packed with fantastic music and entertainment. You do not want to miss it.
“This event means the world to me. To see this concert come together is a dream come true,” Schwitchtenberg said.