Evening of dance, poetry concludes Africa Week

By Gus Bode

Sunniya Marquez Daily Egyptian

It was an array of shimmering jewels and gold and red silks as students from the African Student Council took the stage Friday night in the student center ballrooms in preparation for a traditional Sudanese wedding dance.

The dance was one of many in the culture show, sponsored by the African Student Association, to close this year’s Africa week.

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The evening utilized dance, poetry and drum performances, as well as skits to demonstrate the importance of Africans remembering their heritage and how far Africa, as a whole, has come.

Hameed Andu, vice president of African Student Council, said events like the culture show were important to promote a positive image of Africa.

“They give people knowledge about what African is all about, other than wars,” Andu said.

Akeem Mustapha, a senior from Nigeria studying pre-medicine who played the groom in the wedding dance, said it was important to show a traditional performance to the audience because, “African weddings are rich and full of color.”

The wedding dance involved the dancing couple, who were surrounded by women since in this particular wedding dance, the groom is the only male allowed.

The purpose of the dance is not only for the couple to be married, but also to become acquainted with each other. Traditionally, couples did not meet until the wedding, which was arranged by their families.

The evening also included modern performances. Bankey Wellington, an up-and-coming R&B singer from New York whose roots lay in Nigeria, sang a variety of songs ranging from Bob Marley to his own creations.

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“I decided to come because I really liked the idea of celebrating who we are and the influence of our culture on other cultures,” Wellington said. “So it’s pretty much an honor and a privilege to be here.”

Other guest performances included Urban Credo, a musical group from Chicago that produces traditional African music, dance, hip-hop and Afro Caribbean music.

Mark Vaughn, the drummer for the group, said it was important to promote the contributions of African music because it has not received proper credit for its influence in modern music.

Gladys Hounsionou, a graduate student from Benin studying physiology, was eager to be part of the audience.

“It’s really a time for us to really show our pride and express who we are,” Hounsionou said. “Africa is really diverse, and wherever you go, you will meet warm, wonderful people.”

Luke Shofu, a senior from Nigeria studying electrical engineering, also performed a poem “Remembering our Roots,” urging Africans to take pride in being African and work toward change in Africa.

“A lot of Africans leave Africa with the intention of not coming back, and you may get frustrated with your home, but when you remember why home is home, then you know you don’t want to leave it, ” Shofu said.

“That is what makes you who you are. I’m Nigerian and that’s all I know. And I can live in different places in the world, but I will always remember where I’m from. This is a family reunion for us, and a lot of planning went into this and plenty of love.”

Reporter Sunniya Marquez can be reached at [email protected]

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