Kent African Student Association hopes to bring their members together and remind them of their roots during a showcase of African culture Friday, during its annual African Night.
“This year my concept of African Night is to become a family,” said KASA president Rumbidzai Mupinga. “That’s really important because at the end of the day there really aren’t that many of us here.”
Mupinga explained that during KASA meetings, members tend to gravitate toward other members with similar backgrounds. She hopes during African Night members will find they have shared interests with other members they don’t typically spend time with.
“There may be members who can dance and perform well but may not know that I can,” Mupinga said. “If they see me and my girls up there dancing, then they may come up to me after the show.”
Mupinga said the Student Center Ballroom will be decorated with the flags of every African country and many attendees will be dressed in both traditional and modern African clothing.
DJ Virtuoso will be working the event for the third year, with appearances from groups such as Mupinga’s traditional African dance group, Barefeet, and African Pride.
One of the performers, popular African rap artist Blitz the Ambassador, is coming from Africa to perform at the event. The night’s guest speaker will be Majier Mamer Deng, KASA member and survivor from the Lost Boys of Sudan.
KASA event coordinator Kristen Ross said African Night is a time for Africans to reconnect and get together.
“I feel people from specific areas cluster together, just like any organization, but African Night makes us all work together,” Ross said.
Jacqueline Addison, KASA member, explained that when KASA comes together, it is like a big family.
“I didn’t know anybody when I came here,” Addison said about moving to Kent from Ghana, Africa. “She [Mupinga] was my first friend and now we’re like sisters.”
Addison will be showcasing her modern African clothing designs during the African Night fashion show, along with student designer Chikondi Butao-Mlelemba.
Mupinga also hopes the night will remind members of their African roots.
“It’s easy for people to lose touch of who they are when they come to a new place, but I want us to never really forget where we have been,” Mupinga said.
Traditional African food will be served during intermission and attendees may participate in the African dance challenge or best-dressed contest, both of which will be judged by the audience.
“I think African Night brings not just Africans, but everyone together,” said KASA publicity chair Shashawna Washington.
African Night is free and open to the public, with festivities starting at 6 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom. Mupinga hopes African Night will draw not only KASA members and Africans, but the Kent State community as well.
“People are kind of skeptical to try new things out at first,” Mupinga said, “but once you actually engage yourself, it’s going to be fun and you’re going to like it.”
Contact Candice Dungan at [email protected]