KASA celebrates 25th annual ‘African Night’


Members of KASA stand at center stage at the end of KASA’s 25th annual African Night Friday, March 8.

Jalen Sephus

The Kent African Student Association held its 25th annual “African Night” on Friday in the Student Center Ballroom. The annual showcase of African culture is the main event of KASA’s African Week, which is held every spring semester.

This year’s theme to commemorate KASA 50th anniversary was “Manifested in Gold.” The theme was centered around KASA’s accomplishment of being a campus organization for half a century. The word “gold” is associated with wisdom and power, and symbolizes success, achievement and prosperity, values which KASA has worked to promote since it was created.

Sophomore political science major Rafiat Koiki was one of the participants in the event’s modeling for the fashion portion of the show.

This was her second year of being part of “African Night,” and she said modeling for last year’s showcase helped her for this year’s performance. It wasn’t even her intention to be in last year’s show.

“Last year, I modeled, but it was very impromptu,” Koiki said. “I was also in the opener for the show, and they just kind of dragged me into it, but I did it and I loved it.”

The show opened with the playing of Ghana’s national anthem. The anthem was played in celebration of the passing of Ghana’s Independence Day on March 6, established in 1957. There was also food served before the event began.

The host of the night was musician, actor and entertainer from Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Chief Obi. He introduced an African band to perform traditional African folk songs.

The crowd turnout was a little smaller than usual and not as lively and engaging to start off, but as the night went on, more people started coming in and the crowd got more into the show after a slow start.

There was a performance skit that was split into four parts.

The skits depicted an African family living in America having talks about the cultural differences and how African families deal with them.

In the first part, the audience was introduced to the family, a mother and father, along with their two sons and one daughter.

In the second part, they were sitting around the dinner table as one of the sons talked about the insults he received about his skin color being too dark and how he was struggling with depression. However, the parents didn’t seem too sympathetic about their son’s state of depression.

The third scene was about one of the brothers going to a college party while the other was trying to warn him about the things that might go wrong.

At the party, there was weed being passed around, and suddenly, the cops showed up and everyone scattered, but the two brothers were caught. 

Freshman psychology major Lillah Tolbert was one of the participants in the skits. This is her first time being in the showcase, and she got the inspiration to participate by attending African Nights at other schools.

“I’ve been to other school’s African Nights and I really enjoyed it,” Tolbert said. “So, I wanted to be involved in something like that in my school and I’ve been to the ones at OSU and the University of Cincinnati.”

In the last scene, the brothers came home from jail and faced their parents so they could understand how this happened. After an exchange of words, they came together to show that a family’s bond is strong and can overcome anything. 

There were two dance portions of the shows that featured Asé Expressions and Barefeet Dance Tribe, two student-organized dance groups at Kent State that combine traditional African dance moves and use them to educate people through dance and song.

There was a spoken word and art painting with Kent State students, Mariah Hicks as the poet and Lacy Talley as the artist. Hicks recited a poem about the strength of black women, and Talley assisted the poem with an art piece dedicated to black women symbolizing growth.

During the intermission, Chief Obi invited three boys and three girls on to the stage to have a live dance battle. The dancers elicited a very cheerful reception from the audience during their performance. KASA gave awards to the best girl and boy performers from the groups, choosing the winners according to how loud the audience cheered for each participant.  

Koiki said that modeling for African Night last year helped her build self-confidence and she said looking back at that showcase showed her how much she has grown since then.

As the event is largely put together by students, some students like Koiki had to balance rehearsals with classes and jobs, and Tolbert said the rehearsals get more frequent as the event approaches.

“It’s kind of stressful but at the same time it’s all fun,” Tolbert said. “I was nervous and excited for the show and a lot of people were coming from different cities so we wanted it to go really well.” 

The last portion of the showcase was the fashion show, displaying several people dressed in traditional and formal African attire. Also, anyone who was in the audience got the opportunity to show off their evening wear on the runway.

At the end of the show, the members from KASA gathered on the stage, all wearing a similar color pattern, but all wearing different styles of clothing. They brought out a gift for their current president and graduating senior, Afia Boachie, thanking her for her time and her efforts to make the event possible and for her service to KASA.

Koiki said if she is inviting someone to African night, it is to see the things that are beautiful about Africa.

She also said the media often shows the poverty in Africa and starvation that she doesn’t deny is important, but she wants the good side of Africa to be shown to people as well.

“I want them to see the wonderful outfits we have, the different types of food and different dances we have, “ Koiki said. “I want them to be open-minded to things about Africa because some of them don’t know. I want people to be able to connect through finding their roots and this is a starting point for everyone who wants to find them.

Jalen Sephus covers African American diversity. Contact him at [email protected].