Betty Gebregzabheir opened UNC’s African Students United’s seventh annual Taste of Africa celebration with her poem called “Home.” The Taste of Africa, hosted on on Nov. 17, is an event designed to showcase the different African Cultures around campus. ASU is a cultural group that offers African students, and non-African students, a safe space on campus. Five other students from other African backgrounds joined Gebregzabheir, who is Ethiopian, on stage for her poem.
“Home” is poem about Africa always being home no matter where she goes. The poem expresses how many Africans feel about being in a new country which does not show them love because of their skin color. Gebregzabheir said home is where you are not profiled for the color of your skin and your culture is looked down upon because it is misunderstood by those who are not black.
According to American Progress, in America, one in 15 African-American men are expected to go to jail in their life while white men are one in 106 and once black men are convicted they are given sentences 10 percent longer than their white counterparts. American Progress included African-American women are three times more likely to be arrested than white women. According to Paulson and Nace, if black women are not arrested they are 243 percent more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth related causes because of racism. Gebregzabheir said black is beautiful in all complexions and home is where black people are not continuously profiled or left to suffer for the color of their skin. She closed with how Africa is home and Africans can never forget the beauty from where they have come from.
Other students in ASU celebrated their cultures with dancing, singing and food. Ofori Boateng and Armanni Portee, both UNC students, hosted the event. Ofori and Armanni kept the audience laughing throughout the whole event with jokes and attempted rapping after another student’s performance.
Five group dances had been performed. Aishat Akolade, Betty Gebregzabheir, Christian Negussie, Erica Boyake and Martha Kibozi helped choreograph the dances for the event. The dancers wore traditional clothing during the dances. A few pieces of clothing worn for the dances are Pagnes, which wraps around the waist of the dancer to form a short skirt and helps with the lower body movement. Ethiopian and Eritrean dancers wore clothing consisting of zurias and netelas: zurias are traditional dresses worn on certain occasions paired with a head scarf named a netela. There were two types of Ghanaian dances. The traditional Ghanaian dance was choreographed by Rosemond Sarpong, Wendy Appiah and Dorothy Agyemang. The following dance choreographed by Erica Boyake was a dance with modern music and dances.
Joshua Greer read the second poem of the night titled “I’m Black.” The poem is about Greer’s true meaning of what it’s like to be black. He said being black is not crime and they are not what the media paints the racial group to be but they are so much more. Greer’s poem reminded the audience the love he has for his people and culture is not something he is scared to show.
Two vocal performances were given at Taste of Africa. Ezekiel Oke, a UNC senior, gave a performance named “Africa” produced by Ofodile Odifu. “Africa” is a song praising the continent on its beauty and cultures. The beat of the song had people moving their shoulders and chanting along with the lyrics “Africa, Africa, Africa, yeah!” Akolade and Bruke Shiferaw performed “Just Stand Up.” The two women were the final performance of the night before the fashion show.
The show closed with multiple student showcasing traditional outfits special to their culture. Taste of Africa ended by giving thanks to the audience for coming by ending with food. Many ASU participants, parents, and Delta Sigma Theta helped set up and serve the food. Injera, Jollof rice, beignets, and many other African dishes were served.
The ASU organization represents a few countries such as Kenya, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Nigerian, Ghanaian, Congolese. African countries. Its goal is to unite all African students at UNC.
“I like the diversity and being able to express our own culture without being uncomfortable at UNC,” said ASU secretary Hanggatu Abdullahi.
The students put the event together themselves. Many of the board members agreed the event itself can become hectic especially with school involved.
“It’s been a lot of work and you can tell in the board members that they really want this to be as perfect as possible,” said UNC senior and ASU president Tobi Ogunmodede. “You can see it in the way they practice, the way that they put on a show here and the way that they cooked their food but it makes it all worth it at the end of the day.”
For other events hosted by ASU their twitter is https://twitter.com/unco_asu or for events hosted by ASU’s affiliation the Marcus Garvey Cultural center visit https://www.unco.edu/marcus-garvey-cultural-center/