OAS prepares for annual Africa Day
A culturally rich experience to come to Newcomb Ballroom
The Organization of African Students is in the final stages of putting together its Africa Day show, to be held Friday in Newcomb Ballroom. The celebration will showcase African music, history and dance in hopes of increasing cultural awareness around Grounds.
The annual event features west and east African dances, a fashion show and a spoken word performance. This year’s performance will include a new skit portion, where students will act out their lives as African-American students.
First-year College student Yolande Tchuisseu’s spoken word performance will address the issue of violence within and beyond Africa’s borders.
“April is the month of the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide as well as Holocaust Remembrance Day,” she said. “I hope to bring light to the issue of violence in Africa and violence in general.”
OAS secured funds from several donors to put on the event, including the U.Va. Parents Fund, the Office of the Vice President and Chief Student Affairs, and the Culture Programming Board. The financial assistance will cover major expenses including authentic clothing, publicity materials, food and free admission for attendees. The event is coordinated by four executive committees: fashion, publicity, production and hospitality.
OAS President Jennifer Oppong, a third-year Batten student, stressed the importance of adjusting to unforeseen circumstances when planning a large-scale event such as Africa Day.
“There is never enough time for groups to practice and that is also hard for other CIOs involved,” Oppong said. “But it is helpful that they are in it because it helps diversify the event.”
The event will be catered by a restaurant which serves west-African food, allowing to sample authentic meals.
“Sharing food is really important in African culture,” Oppong said. “It will allow people [at the event] to mingle.”
Third-year College student Chelsea Nwapa choreographed the OAS dance this year. She said the hip and leg-intensive movements in the dance are representative of typical western and central African dances.
The introductory dance will be contemporary and the final will take the form of a dance drama with a narrator speaking in the background. The dances will feature popular African musicians including Wizkid, Femi Kuti and Lola Rae.
Nwapa said the physical demands of the performance are challenging, especially for novice dancers.
“The songs are really fast so you have to have endurance and there is stress on the foot,” Nwapa said. “I want the girls to be interactive with the crowd but that is difficult because they are focused on the memory-intensive dances.”
Oppong said she hopes the 250 expected attendees will leave with a better understanding of African culture — unlike images portrayed in mainstream media.
“I hope people can leave learning something new and experiencing a different side of Africa,” Oppong said. “We want to increase the diverse experience people have and tackle regular myths of Africa.”