The Organization of African Students will be hosting a celebration of African culture with food and performance at their annual banquet on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Great Court of Mitten Hall. This year, the banquet is entitled “The Pearls of Africa.”
The mission of OAS is to spread awareness and foster a community of African Culture; they sponsor the banquet in keeping with this mission. It is one of the showcases of African culture that they invite the community to come and participate in.
Since its inception in 1995, the banquet has included dinner, a show, and an after-party. Tickets were available for $10 in advance, and will be $15 at the door.
Featured in the show this year will be the Second Annual Mr. And Ms. Temple Africa Pageant. After a general application and interview selection process, this year’s nominees are Aisha Raheem, RoseMary Fiki, Nneka Chukuriah, Eros Uthman-Olukokun, Samora Hunt, and Ojay Esangbedo. After the talent and question-and-answer parts of the pageant, the winners will be crowned Mr. and Ms. Temple Africa and receive a $1,000 cash prize each.
“I want to be Ms. Temple Africa because I will have wider options to do things in terms of helping find solutions to the issues that are affecting African in Africa and Africans in the U.S.” Chukurirah said.
“I heard great things about the pageant last year,” Fiki said. “I went to Africa Night in the spring of 2004 and it was amazing, and I knew from that point on that anything that OAS was behind in creating, I wanted to be a part of that. So the pageant this Saturday, I see nothing but great things going on.”
In order for them to proceed in the competition, contestants had to raise funding, promote themselves, participate in community service, and aid in presentation events at the pageant.
“Once a contestant wins they have to further the mission of OAS by being our spokesperson and speaking out on issues and causes that are important to us and our community,” said Beti Gathegi, public relations chair of OAS.
The OAS dance troupe “Only if You’re Ready,” will perform at the banquet headed by Chrystal Banda and her dance captains Armelle S. Franklin and Stephanie Leconte. They will perform a traditional dance with West African moves ranging from all over West Africa, with a South African influence, along with a modern dance piece and a hip-hop selection.
“I am excited,” said Banda. “I feel confident in my returning members and hope the new members don’t get stage fright. I run a tight ship when it comes to big shows like this. They worked really hard this week, practicing every day from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.”
The banquet menu will include a variety of African cuisine including some Kenyan dishes along with traditional Nigerian dishes such as jalof rice.
“We will be giving a portion of the proceeds to AIDS relief in Africa through Dr. Fayemi, a photographer and Jersey City Physician who raises money for AIDS relief organizations in Africa and the Red Cross,” said Beti Gathegi.
The OAS has weekly meetings in the Student Center on Thursdays at 5 p.m. Tickets are available at the door of the banquet for $15. For information on the winners of the Mr. and Ms. Temple Africa Pageant, check Tuesday’s issue of The Temple News.
Kenyatta Joseph can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.