Africa Night celebrates culture with music, dancing and food

The African Student Association hosted Africa Night on May 28, in conjunction with the Black Student Union, Campus Activities Board, the Associated Student Government and Multicultural Services. The event featured music, dances and food representing the various cultures found within the African continent.

During the same week as Africa Night, the ASA had a film-screening of the documentary “Soul Food Junkies,” which is about the expression of African American cultural identity. They also hosted an indoor soccer tournament, which they won. However, Africa Night was the first of its kind held at the college.

The African Student Association announced the event to nearly 250 of its members on Facebook. As a result, the cafeteria was completely full within the first hour of the event.

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The night’s two hosts gave an opening speech to introduce the purpose of African Night. Essay Reda, ASA’s president said, “the vision of the African Student Association is to unify the African and African-descended students at Bellevue College. The ASA helps newly international students from Africa to be successful academically at Bellevue College and also establish a common ground relationship between students and faculty members.”

Victor Houssa, Peer-to-Peer mentor and a member of the ASA expounded on this idea of universality, saying “As ASA, we plan to take our leadership and activities not only outside of campus but also into the community.” Houssa explained that they plan “to connect with leaders that are already active outside of the community and learn how we as Africans in Washington can connect and grow together.”

The welcoming speech was followed by a dance to Nigerian singer Iyanya’s song Kukere, and a spoken word performance. After this, the MCs signaled for the dinner to begin, with food prepared by ASA. The feast included some of Africa’s most popular dishes such as fufu, couscous, injera and ugali as well as other chicken and beef dishes.

The rest of the night followed an ordered structure, with a mixture of dances and speeches, as well as a coffee ceremony commemorating the discovery of coffee in Ethiopia and a fashion show. During the fashion show, narrators told stories with respect to the ethnic clothing on display. The dances that were featured came from the Nigerian, Capoeira, Amharic, Ivory Coast, Gurage, Gabon, Tmbene, Oromo, Wolyta and Afar peoples. The choreographed dancers went onto the stage wearing ethnic clothing. The dances including the Zomboktu music made up more than a quarter of the event.

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In between the cultural celebrations were a couple of speeches including one by Ron Taplin, a tenured faculty member and counselor at the college. Taplin recognized the goodwill behind ASA’s leadership and their work on community building. David Joseph, coordinator of the Black Student Union, in light of the African theme, recited a poem by Maya Angelou.

ASA concluded the night with an open dance and opportunities to have photos taken.

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Anyone interested in learning more about the ASA is free to join their meetings, which are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. in C225.