The dancers moved on stage, knees lifting high and arms arched over their heads in fluid yet rapid movement set to a drumbeat. Dressed in bright cloth, three members of the Fatinka West African dance class opened the floor on Thursday for African Arts Night.
Organized by the African Student Association, the event concluded the second annual Africa Awareness Week by focusing on the diversity of African and African American cultures. With spoken word, song and dance, students and performers showcased a variety of important issues.
Making students aware of their African roots, whether through art or cuisine, was an important goal of the week, according to ASA event coordinator Uchenna Moka.
“It’s a week of self-reflection, where we have to step outside of ourselves and be, ‘Who are we as Africans, and what do we stand for?’” she said.
According to Moka, Africa is oftentimes perceived negatively. “Northwestern’s perception of Africa, the majority, have it all wrong. How do we set it straight? Through example, through just showing them,” she said. “So that was our mission, to show them that we are more than poverty, we’re more than AIDS, we’re more than famine, we’re more than corruption. That was our goal and I think it was achieved.”
On Thursday, the African Dance and Drum Ensemble presented choreography inspired by Haitian folklore on the struggle of the African diaspora. Also at the arts night:
SESP sophomore Joshua Williams performs spoken word:
Chicago resident Emeka Ogujiofor recites a spoken-word piece:
SESP junior Jeniece Fleming sings “Brown Skin”:
Communication sophomore Deidra Coleman, an African American Studies major, thought that the night showed “the significance of the oral tradition in the African-American community, and how important it is to continue that tradition.”
For Medill and pre-med sophomore Ashley Hudson, the African Arts Night was a rare chance to reconnect with her heritage.
“It’s where I come from, and it’s so easy to forget that when I’m trying to do my homework or maintain my GPA, but it’s my roots,” she said.