Riveting drum beats, loud print clothing and tremendous feedback from the audience were part of the spectacular extravaganza in honor of Africa Night, sponsored by the Organization of African Students (OAS).
Africa Night, held last Saturday, April 22, in SAC Crossroads, was a venture by OAS to celebrate various African cultures and give people a different African viewpoint, one not solely about AIDS, poverty and war.
There were instant memories of “home.” The stage and catwalk had been adorned with straw and wooden masks. Colorful block-printed fabric known as chitenge was twisted around on the stage. Cardboard mannequins hanging from the pillars were also clothed in chitenge.
Balloons in the traditional African colors of black, orange, green and red dangled from the ceiling, gently moving to the throbbing beats of South African music blasting from the speakers. At the end of the room, two vendors displayed African statues, jewelry and prints.
Eric Sabwa, treasurer of OAS and originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, explained that the showcase was for the future of Africa. He said he has grown tired of the gory details the media paint of Africa and wanted this event to generate a positive impact of the motherland.
“We’re really tired of the way the media portrays Africa,” he said. “However, tonight is about the future of Africa.”
Along with trying to change impressions, the OAS will donate all proceeds of Africa Night to the Mozambique flood victims. “We always knew proceeds would go to charity,” OAS president Motheo Moroka said. “Mozambique was a country that had suffered through a lot, and now, they have this. One of my greatest wishes is to give something back to Africa.” OAS will hold a clothing drive to add to the donation.
Moroka mentioned that people are ill-informed about Africa and usually view the continent negatively. “We’re the truest representatives of Africa,” he said. He thus hoped that the audience would learn more about the continent where many trace their original roots.
Many audience members were looking forward to the event. Marsha Komara, a student from New York, giggled with excitement, mentioning that she was here to “represent.”
Cellou Barry, a forward for Temple’s mens’ basketball team, originally from Guinea said, “I’m looking forward to the event and I expect great things from what I have seen at the practices.” Barry also commented on Africa’s future. “We’re the power, the future of Africa. If we don’t go back, Africa has no future.”
Bruno Lukabu, the president of Le Congo Sans Frontiere, a young New York organization that is a vehicle for Congolese information, said, “We are very proud of OAS and are also here to tell students that if they need any help, we are here to help them.”
Africa Night began nearly two hours late, but the events that took place made up for the delay. Nigerian Jidonu Amusu, the incoming president, and Angolan Yema Hendriques, hosted the event.
The event encompassed many acts such as poetry, dance, rap performances and drum beating. During a reading of a poem titled “We Are An African People,” which names all countries of Africa, cheers came from the people in the audience whenever their country was mentioned.
“A tree without roots cannot stand the weight of life,” said Lukabu in a speech explaining his organization and urging people to support Africa. “Don’t forget your roots.”
A drum group called Drummers of Timbuktu added more spice to the event. The thumping of their drums was followed by a long round of applause from the audience. Chi Kim, a member of the design department at Urban Outfitters said, “My favorite part of the show was the performance by the African drumming group, Timbuktu.”
After intermission, nature was remembered with Guinean Ethel Komara’s song about deforestation, “Sere Te Tama.” A South African gum boot dance followed with a lot of kicking and jumping.
The dancers sang, too. Another drum-and-dance group from
Atlantic City then took stage. While the drums were being pounded, two male dancers portrayed a conquest to impress the woman dancer. Rap group Foreign Diplomats concluded the musical portion of the evening.
A fashion show closed Africa Night. Four sets of clothing were shown. The first three sets displayed East, West and Southern African clothing. OAS members owned all garments. The last clothing set was by Moshood, a designer from New York. His clothing involved a lot of tying together of pieces, something common in Africa.
Outgoing president Moroka ended Africa Night thanking everyone for attending, while giving praise to a job well done by OAS in making Africa Night a reality.
All in attendance left pleased and enthusiastic about the event. Eric Edi, a graduate student from Ivory Coast said: “It was definitely a good experience. They tried to create a real African experience.”