Diverse group enjoys African Nite

Emily Dalnodar

Three men clad in bright colors sit on the stage and harmonize their voices into a single phrase: “Welcome to African Nite.”
They repeat the chant over and over in different tones as audience members sway their heads. A moment of silence passes, and the audience erupts into cheers as the men beat on the drums at their feet in feverish rhythms.
The second annual African Nite, held Friday evening at Coffman Union’s Great Hall, produced more than 200 guests, dances, storytelling, ethnic cuisine, a fashion show and a solid excuse to hold another event next year — on which the group plans.
“This is definitely something that is necessary,” said Jontue Austin, a College of Biological Sciences sophomore. “What does it actually mean to be African? It’s not taught in school. The only way you’re going to learn is to experience it.”
Members of the African Student Association decided two years ago that the University’s African community needed a way to come together, celebrate and learn about their diverse heritage.
“We came up with African Nite to let people know about the African culture on campus,” said Fatima Sillah, the event’s publicity officer and a College of Liberal Arts sophomore. “There are a lot of Africans here on campus, and we want to bring them all together.”
The event attracted people of all colors, in addition to those of African descent, and their goals seemed the same: learn and have fun.
“I just think it’s really cool that the African community can get together like this,” said Alicia Lopez, a journalism junior who came to see her sorority sister perform.
Performances throughout the night presented guests with a different slice of African culture, including that of Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, Somalia, Uganda and Cameroon.
“It’s a wonderful event,” said Shamani Shikwambi. “It’s a homecoming, kind of like a reunion of family. The African culture is who we are, and this shows that you can leave your homeland, but you can still hold on to your home.”