With the collective desire to celebrate the beauty and resilience of African culture, over 500 people attended African Cultural Night put on by the UVU African Club on Feb. 20.
Including food, music, singing, dancing and fashion shows exhibiting traditional clothing from each region, the night was full of vibrant diversity. UVU, BYU, BYU Idaho, LDS Business College and Utah State University were all in attendance, giving East, West and Central Africa representation.
“Most of the countries in Africa got their independence in the ’50s and ’60s, thus 2010 marks the beginning of a fiftieth anniversary for most of the countries,” said African Club President Gloria Kajo. “Africa has gone through a lot in the past, but it has being able to come out strong and uphold its most precious and cherished possession: its culture.”
The club was originally founded and recognized in 2007 by Leonard Bagawa and Amanda Jack. Having gone through the hardships of adapting to American culture, they both saw the need for an organization which would cater to the specific needs of African students.
“We thought that Africans could get together to help each other overcome mutual challenges. Having a shared culture and background would help them to understand each other better than foreigners, and also understand why they were asking particular questions,” Bagawa said. “We thought we could help new students with the basic experience we already had. I also thought that we could be a help to each other emotionally and psychologically as well as socially.”
Never having coordinated an event of this magnitude, the club put countless hours into preparing each detail of the evening. With one vision in mind, responsibilities were delegated to committees whose combined efforts made the night a great success.
Guests dined on Nigerian fried rice, Kenyan Samosa and egusi soup with eba while watching performances inspired by Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Mali and Congo. Cultural exposure such as this plays an important role in educating our culturally-isolated local community.
“Promoting cultural diversity on campus is very important because it helps to eliminate ignorance from our society and it creates peace and harmony among people and their cultures,” Kajo said.
The night was such a success that the club is planning to make it an annual event. Make sure to support the African Club next year by taking advantage of what diversity Utah does have to offer. The beautiful African culture must be experienced, not merely read about in novels and textbooks.