Leah Thompson – Staff Writer
Africa Night is an annual event sponsored by the Pan-Afrikan Student Organization (PASO) and will be held from 6-8:30 p.m. on Friday, March 11 in Alumni Hall followed by the Africa Night Dive later that evening from 10:30-1:00 a.m. Both events are open to students, faculty, and off-campus visitors.
PASO is a student organization on campus that promotes Black identity and seeks to create relationships between PASO members and the greater Gustavus community.
This year’s theme for Africa Night is “Unapologetically Black” and will help bring awareness to the black community and shine light on the positive aspects of Black culture. There will be performances from students, faculty and guest artists from Minneapolis.
Two of this year’s co-chairs for Africa Night are Candy Owusu Amankwah and Mya Nelson. Owusu Amankwah and Nelson are both seniors and have been involved in PASO for a number of years.
“I joined PASO to find comfortability on campus. [In PASO] People are similar to me and share the same battles and struggles as me. We all connect and everyone knows each other. It helped me find a family,” Owusu Amankwah said.
PASO holds events every night during Africa Week involving dance, open mics, an African Diaspora Kahoot, African movie night and lastly Africa Night. Africa Night is the last event of Africa Week which started on Monday, March 7 and ends Friday, March 11.
“Africa Night is an annual event that extends back more than a decade. This event provides an opportunity for many different identities and cultures to join together with the campus community in a night of celebration,” Director of the Center for Inclusive Excellence (CIE) and PASO faculty advisor Tom Flunker said.
The purpose of Africa Night is to offer students the opportunity to become immersed in African culture for a night through traditional song, dance and food.
Common African foods like jollof rice, pepper wings and puff puff, are a few of the food items that will be offered on Friday.
Professor of French and African Studies Pascal Kyoore and English Professor Phil Bryant will be performing at the event alongside student performances which include song, dance, poetry and educational skits. The night will end with the highly anticipated fashion show that showcases traditional African wear from across the continent.
Minneapolis based artist Delphin has performed for Africa Night in the past and will be returning this year. Delphin had previously created a speed-painting that now hangs in the CIE.
Another Minneapolis based group that will be performing during Africa Night is the Haitian dance group Afoutayi. The group will be telling a story through traditional dance.
Co-chair Owusu Amankwah will be performing twice at this year’s Africa Night, singing the “Black National Anthem,” and will join up with a Gustavus alumni for a cover of “Glory”.
“The goal is for people to learn and have fun, it’s not to bore them,” Owusu Amankwah said. She is particularly excited for the Africa Night Dive to return since there wasn’t one last year due to Covid.
“The hope is to bring more awareness to our organization and to the black community on campus,” Nelson said. “Try and take as many classes on diversity as you can to gain a better understanding of black communities and other communities of color on campus.”
Although Africa Night is only one night out of the year, there are many courses devoted to promoting diversity on campus that students can take such as Intro to Africa, US Ethnic Lit and Black History Matters.
After last year’s annual Africa Night being held in the midst of a pandemic with social distancing guidelines in place at Lund Center, this year will be a more personalized experience for students and will help build a better community.
“I want this to be a remarkable night,” Owusu Amankwah said.
Africa Night will be held between 6-8:30 p.m. Friday, March 11 in Alumni Hall followed by Africa Night Dive in Alumni Hall from 10:30-1:00 a.m. Masks will be required for this event.
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Leah Thompson – Staff Writer