High above the crowd’s head were brilliant colors splashed across the flags of the African continent. Plates were piled high with rice, chicken and a variety of desserts. Music and laughter filled the air. This was a celebration of African heritage.
Africa Night 2016 took place 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 21 in the Volstorff Ballroom and welcomed community members, students and faculty to celebrate the different cultures of Africa.
The African Students Association (ASA) coordinated the event. Sampson Asare, ASA president, said the group is “seeking to promote common values on and off campus.” Asare hopes African students and other South Dakota State University students can share common ties that bring everyone together.
There are 32 African nations represented at SDSU. All of them were celebrated at Africa Night. The parade of flags showcased each country to start off the night. In total there are 54 countries, 10 territories and two defacto states with limited or no recognition. The 54 are recognizable because they are a part of the AU.
One example of cultural expression in African culture is dance. The dancers’ gestures all mean something. Asare said the steps of each type of dance specifically portray what a person is saying and that it’s “not just a dance.” He also said the clothing worn is a language with a story to tell.
With bright colors and flowing shirts, the outfits were traditional clothing from the different countries.
Five different dances were performed, ranging from solo acts to group performances. One group played drums and got the crowd involved by having them dance to the beat of the music. Another dance consisted of couples dancing to traditional and current music.
For Kalabe Kassa, the food is one of his favorite things. Kassa, a sophomore economics and business major, was born in Ethiopia, but his family moved to Nevada when he was seven years old. He said Africa Night makes an impact on campus.
“People will have a better understanding of African students,” Kassa said.
Kenny Diaminda, a sophomore mechanical engineer, said he enjoys learning about the different cultures within Africa outside of the country he came from. Diaminda grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo but now lives in Sioux Falls.
“A lot of people don’t show the good side of Africa,” Diaminda said.
There is a lot more about Africa aside from what the media shows, he said. People assume Africans don’t have cars or even clothes, for example. He is glad Africa Night is helping to show the better side of Africa.
Sophomore agricultural business major Trenton Hofer went to the event for the first time this year. He said it was “cool” to see the international students get excited to “show their stuff” and perform in The Union all week.
“I have a good friend who is African, and I wanted to learn about his culture,” Hofer said.
Asare said SDSU has been welcoming to African students. SDSU has become more of a family and he was excited to share the rich heritage of Africa with the campus. Asare said, “We are one world, one love.