Baobab Tree inspires talent showcase


Melanie Nesteruk

Pan-African studies senior Damien McClendon presents his piece “Theres a Railroad at the Bottom of the Atlantic Ocean Made of Human Bones” at the 3rd semi-annual “Under The Baobab Tree” talent showcase Thursday, April 10, 2014.

Kara Taylor

The audience cheered as Ephraim Butler stressed the importance of understanding the foundations and history of the black community in his rapid-fire poetry reading.

Butler joined another poet and three fashion presenters from Kent State students Thursday evening at the third-annual Baobab Tree Multicultural Showcase in Oscar Ritchie Hall. The showcase, hosted by Uhuru magazine, featured fashion shows and spoken-word performances.

Cree Pippen, a junior fashion design major in the showcase, presented three different collections of her designs. Senior entrepenuership major Danielle Flemister also presented Dunya Jeane fashion brand, her colorful line of designs.


“The event was started by me and another member of the CBA,” junior business management major Garmai Matthew said. Professor Mwatabu Okantah took a picture of the Baobab tree in South Africa and that was our inspiration.”

Okantah said singing, dancing and important announcements are all made under the Baobab tree.

“Occasions usually take place under the Baobab tree in West Africa, and I experienced spiritual awakening just sitting under one,” said Okantah, an associate professor in the Pan-African studies department.


Matthew said the Baobab tree is the source of life in West Africa. The tree has plenty of nutrients and can be used to make fabrics as well.

“CBA wanted to model the event after the circle of life concept,” she said. “The tree symbolizes life ,and we think performing our talents is a way to keep the cycle of life going.”

Contact Kara Taylor at [email protected].