Photos Courtesy of CSU African Student Association Facebook
Top: Students perform a traditional African dance during African Night on Friday, April 7.
Bottom: Students show off traditional African garb during the event.
African Student Association hosts sixth annual African Night
The African Student Association’s (ASA) the sixth annual African Night, sponsored by the Student Government Association, celebrated Africa with lively traditional dance, pertinent discussions of the state of Africa and colorful fashions from its diverse countries and cultures.
The ASA began in 2003 to foster African culture on campus and to not only have a space for African students at Cleveland State University, but to educate students unfamiliar with the culture. African Night is a culmination and celebration of this idea.
Students gathered in the ballroom of the Student Center to celebrate this year’s theme, “My Africa” Friday, April 7. The theme explores defining what Africa is.
Not from underdeveloped and poor regions, but from large cities that one would find in developed countries all over the world, with big commerce and proud, rich nationalism.
ASA president, Elizabeth Ajadi, a senior studying Promotional Communication at Cleveland State, and Kalim Hill, a junior studying Film, hosted the event.
The presentation featured a video of young people, some Cleveland State students and others abroad, talking about what being African means to them.
They recounted personal anecdotes and discussed how people, when realizing their African heritage, have talked to them and described them, they said.
Sometimes they are mocked, other times they are looked down upon, but they rise above it to educate others and continue to be proud of their heritage.
Guest speaker Adediran Adeleke, a manufacturing engineer for Thermo Fisher Scientific and an entrepreneur, talked about common misconceptions from those outside of Africa and highlighting the need for young people to retain positivity.
He further discussed the ideas of the continent of Africa always being looked at as poor and as the “dark continent.”
He corrected the common idea that people think that a third world country carries very negative connotations, when all it really means is that they are not aligned with NATO and capitalism or the Soviet Union and communism, according to financial news outlet Investopedia.
He also recounted the story of Madame CJ Walker, the first black woman to become a millionaire, and how her success should build up African Americans.
After Adeleke finished speaking, guests enjoyed food and drink made up of favorites from Africa, such as fried plantains, Jollof rice and Malta soft drink.
Following the refreshments, guests were then treated to a fashion show. The designers who had their clothing modeled included Sandraduke, Nizzy Daniels and Trad.
The fashion show was a standout component of this year’s event, something new and exciting not done in years past.
In between presentations, different groups including Royal Descendants, Aminat, Flash Mob and Cheza Nzuri, Case Western Reserve University’s first African dance team, performed different dance numbers while dressed in various styles typical of the different countries of Africa. These styles contain color combinations and designs not typical to Americas.
“It’s a night for me to just be myself,” said ASA President Ajadi. “Usually, maybe I’m at work, I’m trying to be American. In class, just being a student and trying to excel at it. But African Night is the night where I just get to party and not care that there’s an assignment due at 11:59. It’s a night where I can really dress up in my African outfit and be so proud of it. To get people to say ‘Wow, that’s a lovely outfit.’ ‘Yeah, that’s from my hometown.’ It’s a feeling of homecoming for me.”
After the fashion show and dance performances, an after-party was held at TOMO, a four-floor venue in downtown Cleveland offering Japanese hibachi and sushi plus lounges with DJs, music and dancing, where students and guests were invited to continue the celebration.
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