African Culture Night was held on Sunday, Nov. 9 in the Hansen Student Center. The center court was adorned with tables covered with red and yellows cloths and flags of different African countries hung from the balcony.
On the tables themselves were small fact sheets about different African nations as well as programs with facts about the continent as a whole. Traditional African dishes were served to all the attendees, including fried plantains, Nigerian tomato stew, flatbread and rice. The proceedings were hosted by famed Nigerian comedian, Chief Obi, who has over 63,000 likes on Facebook. He began the night with a laugh by attempting to teach everyone his long, complex traditional Nigerian name.
The show began with a bang, as six Illinois Wesleyan University students, including sophmore NuBari Kanee, sophomore Moyo Ajayi, senior Ene Ikpebe, junior Ashley Spain, junior Beatrice Koka and first-year Melissa Iheakam, did a traditional African-style dance to upbeat music. The evening became even more enjoyable when a video was played, displaying IWU students being asked basic questions about Africa in the Dugout, often with less-than-desirable answers.
Correcting this lack of knowledge was a part of the event’s intent. “The purpose of the event is to showcase African culture to the campus through food, dance and fashion,” said IWU African Student Association President Ene Ikpebe. “Additionally, we want our guests to learn something new about the continent of Africa.”
The night continued with an exciting appearance from the Illinois State University’s African Student Association dance troupe. In addition to their own spectacular and vibrant dance, they decided to teach some brave audience volunteers a few of their moves. Chief Obi then taught some volunteers a fun dance called “Skewelu,” and had the audience decide who among them did it the best. The night rounded out with a second dance from IWU students, this time from a much larger group along with irresistibly catchy music. The entire audience danced along.
As a grand finale, dozens of students participated in a fashion show, displaying both their catwalk skills and their traditional African garb. All of these exciting experiential displays of culture lent themselves brilliantly to the main goal of the evening.
“We want to give people a glimpse of African culture,” said event coordinator Moyo Ajayi. “There’s a lot to know about Africa, but we hope that by the end of the event people will have learned a few facts about Africa and also about how diverse Africa is as a continent.”