More than 200 people celebrated the cultures of Africa with dance performances, food, music and fashion at third annual Taste of Africa event in the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom March 16.
Junior Valentine Osakwe and freshman Chinmeri Nwuba opened the event, hosted by the African Student Organization, with a dance performance. Other ASO members, both male and female, modeled colorful clothing, designed by Eddah Mwaura, throughout the night walking on a runway set up in the middle of the room.
Students from the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s ASO performed a dance. A number of UMKC students also attended the event.
The event also had an educational aspect presented by political science professor Brian Hesse. He talked about the many unheard stories Africa has compared to the single story most people hear about Africa.
“The African continent has so much diversity,” Hesse said. “There’s so much value in seeing the world through somebody else’s eyes… To get exposed to other cultures, you gain a richer and deeper appreciation of the world because you get some idea about how other people see the world and how they interact with it.”
ASO President, junior Hiba Mahgoub, said she hoped everyone learned something from the event.
“We (ASO’s members) want to show people that Africa is just not one thing,” Mahgoub said. “We wanted to show them that it’s a huge thing… That’s ASO’s role: to teach the community and the campus about everything (about Africa).”
ASO has been on campus for three years, and Mahgoub has been in it since her freshman year. She’s been able to see the event grow since it started.
“The first year we started Taste of Africa, it wasn’t very big,” Mahgoub said. “But that was our first year, so we were trying to figure out what we want to do. Then last year we had a really good turnout. Compared to last year, this is about the same turnout. This year, the only thing that made our turnout a little low is the basketball game going on at the same time.”
ASO started planning for the event in June 2018. Hesse was happy to see how many people attended Taste of Africa.
“I think this is an incredible event for our campus to have,” Hesse said. “I’m glad that it was a full house and people came out to experience it. It’s a real testament to the African Student Organization and all the effort they’ve put into this.”
Junior April Walkup first heard about the event after attending an ASO meeting with her friends. She hadn’t gotten to know many international students before.
“It sounded really cool to be able to experience a different culture in so many different ways,” Walkup said. “It’s so much easier to understand different people if you know more about their culture. (When you go to different events) you meet so many people, and it’s really cool to experience that here at college.”
Hesse is passionate about Africa because he studied abroad there and still spends a lot of time on the continent. Aside from giving a short lesson, he attended the event to experience the African culture until he has another opportunity to go to Africa.
“(Sometimes) a person isn’t lucky enough to go to the continent,” Hesse said. “We’re so fortunate here at Northwest because the continent has come to us.”