Come get a taste of African culture at this year’s Africa Night. The event, hosted annually by the Organization for African Students' Interests and Solidarity, will take place this Saturday in Hill Hall. The event will showcase performances by various student groups on campus.
“Africa Night is OASIS’ biggest event for the year," said Delali Lougou, one of the co-presidents of OASIS. "It’s a night where we showcase all of our talents. We have Kabari, which is a subgroup of OASIS and the acting troupe of OASIS. We have Zankiliwa, which is our dancing group, and they do multiple performances during Africa Night.”
This year, Zankiliwa will be doing three separate dances that are mixtures of African dance styles.
“The music is African, and the moves are African," said Lougou. "All of the members are not African, but it comes together as an African performance.”
Lougou said that Africa Night is a chance to teach the UNC community about African culture that many people are not exposed to, but the event takes a lot of planning and can be stressful at times.
“I am going to be honest — it is very stressful prepping for Africa Night," she said. "It’s something that we start first semester because it is our biggest event. It’s also exciting knowing that we get to show the UNC community all of the hard work that our members have been putting in for months.”
While Africa Night has traditionally featured performances by the same groups every year, the event this year will feature performances from student organizations that do not normally perform at Africa Night.
“We are having our African-American fraternities, such as the Zetas and the Kappas, perform at Africa Night, and we also have Harmonyx,” said Lougou. “The reason we are having these outside organizations perform at Africa Night is because we are trying to bridge the gap between Africans and African-Americans here at UNC.”
Zelma Daatu, the other co-president of OASIS, said that this organization provided a safe space for her because she was able to connect with people who shared her interests and cultural background.
“The main goal of OASIS is to educate our community about the African continent,” said Daatu. “Most of the time when people hear about Africa, it’s always something negative — it has something to do with war or corruption.”
Daatu, who lived in Ghana for 13 years before moving to the United States, said that she wants people to acknowledge there is power and beauty in the African continent — not only in the land, but also the people.
Bennetta Clarke, OASIS' social chair, said she joined the organization because of her curiosity about Africa.
“I wasn’t born there, but my parents brought me up with the culture, and any opportunity I get to learn more about my personal Sierra Leonean heritage or the African heritage as a whole is awesome to me,” Clarke said.
Shawn Dazevedo, an active member of OASIS, said that he was first exposed to true African culture after he came to UNC.
“When I first came to college, I didn’t have an actual idea about what a person from Africa was like aside from what you see in the media,” Dazevedo said. “So, when I got here, I befriended a lot of people who I just assumed were Black — just blanket-term Black. They would introduce themselves as being African and from an African country, and I was like, ‘Oh… cool.' I had never met an actual African, a contextualized African.”
Dazevedo also said that being involved in Africa Night and OASIS gives him a chance to do things that align with his passion.
“For me, OASIS has been like this place of comfort that reminds me of my culture,” he said.
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