African Student Union Festival

People crowded through Kemper auditorium’s open doors, eagerly awaiting the African Student Union’s first ever African Festival. In the lobby various African dishes sat on a long table, kept hot by their crisp foil wrapping. Slabs of salty flatbread gleamed with a thin layer of olive oil. After eagerly grabbing pieces of the doughy bread students scurried into the auditorium to find a seat. Inside, bold tapestries depicting the African savannah were obscured by the pressing darkness. As the buzzing and random snatches of conversation faded to a dull whisper, the auditorium lights dimmed. Overall, ASU put on a commendable show, especially considering this was their first full year as a functioning club. “ASU is still a new club on campus,” said Hannah Turk, ’09, “So, we saw this as our chance to truly establish our presence. I feel as though we were successful in accomplishing that goal, as well as in showcasing African cultures to the PA campus.” Turk continued, “It was hard to get people to truly pull through on performing – many signed up but failed to deliver.” Nevertheless, dance groups, poetry readings and African drumming each brought a colorful aspect to the night, as they showcased the unique differences between African countries. “We want to break the misconception that Africa is one entity. It is a continent and each country has its own set of unique customs and traditions,” said Nonye Odukwe ’10. Dressed in traditional clothing, including a bold patterned hat, Mandisa Mjamba ’10 kept the festival running smoothly as the MC. With sparkles, colors and patterns, the fashion show emphasized the traditional garb of specific countries, and each model uttered a greeting into the microphone in the country’s tongue. Most countries presented the separate garments for women and men, and the models confidently strode across the runway. Following the fashion show, the Ugandan dance group performed again. Their comical dance was invented when the King, believed to have infallible judgement, became slightly intoxicated one evening. The people copied his wobbly footing and drunken swagger to disguise his blunder and thus the dance was born. “They looked as though they were having massive amounts of fun,” said Turk. The night progressed, ending with a congregation of students around the table of food, chatting and munching on various delicacies. “My favorite part of the night was the poetry reading,” said Mjamba, “the passion in her voice was very moving, I really liked how she read it.” Overall, the night turned out to be very engaging. Each group performed with elegance and passion and the upbeat musical rhythms throughout the night were lively and entertaining.