African Nite celebrates culture through song, dance and fashion

People might forget about the true culture of Africa with the recent conflicts happening on the continent, said Wilfried Zehourou, African Student Association president.

“There have been various occurrences in Africa, and it becomes hard to remember what Africa is about,” he said.

The focuses of Africa have been wars and the recent tsunami, rather than the cultural aspects, he said.

Zehourou and others celebrated African culture Saturday at the Seventh Annual African Nite: Behind the Struggle, the Beautiful Culture, which the association sponsored.

Approximately 650 people attended the event at the St. Paul Student Center’s Northstar Ballroom.

Helen Woldai, an association member and the event’s publicity chairwoman, said the purpose of the event is to display Africa’s culture – something many people don’t know about.

“It’s an annual event since 1998,” she said.

Ade Maurice Solarin, association vice president, said that besides illustrating Africa’s culture, the event celebrated the close of the school year.

“It’s more like a celebration and transition for the end of the (school) year,” he said.

The night opened with the sound of the Malawala Balawala Drummers. Throughout the night, comedian Michael Blackson told jokes and emphasized the number of different African regions.

African culture was shown throughout the night with dancing, singing, poetry, drumming, a fashion show and guest speaker Tess Onwueme, who attended before leaving for Nigeria today.

“Imagine the courage to claim an African night in American wilderness,” she said before telling stories of African folklore.

African flags representing the different regions hung from the back walls, and red, yellow, green and black balloons adorned the room.

University student Tayo Akanni, who participated in the event’s fashion show, said the University community is very diverse.

“This is an opportunity for everyone to get together and see the highlights and positive of Africa,” he said.

Clapping and dancing filled the room as University student Faith Udeh sang on stage.

Dancers filled the stage, doing choreographed steps that originated in Africa.

University student Reuben Amarteifio, who is from Ghana, said he and his sister came to support fellow Africans and African culture.

“You can just see the energy,” he said.

During the intermission, there was food from different African regions, including fofo, a bread, served with egusi, a mix of vegetables; and fried plantains, which are similar to bananas.

University student Bethel Deresu helped with the festivities.

“It’s a good way to celebrate your culture and your country,” she said.

She said it was an event all students should attend.

First-year student Willie Clay said that he was attending the event for the first time.

“I’m not from Africa, but it’s a chance to see how the African culture is,” he said.