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African Night celebrates culture

By Mary Delaware

( Friday, February 6, 2009 )

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"The song "God Bless Africa" began the evening. Sung by four CSC students, the unofficial anthem represented the theme of the night. Written by Chief Charles O. Okereke in 2002, the song unites the 54 countries in Africa under one kingdom and one family."

Minnesota, USA: The spirit of Africa was upon the College of St. Catherine (CSC) community the evening of Nov. 17. With the theme "One love, One Contient, Mama Africa", the celebration was full of culture, spirit, dance, and expression. The event, presented by St. Catherine's International Student Organization (SCISO) and co-sponsored by MIPS, the Student of Color taskforce, concluded International Student Week. The entire week was devoted to the education and celebration of the many of cultures represented at CSC."Cultures are a wonderful thing to celebrate, in whatever form, from dance to food to language, and it's important to keep that going," Doubara Wis-Wolo, junior and SCISO co-president, said. "If it's taken away, it's no longer a part of a person."

The song "God Bless Africa" began the evening. Sung by four CSC students, the unofficial anthem represented the theme of the night. Written by Chief Charles O. Okereke in 2002, the song unites the 54 countries in Africa under one kingdom and one family. "Africa is community based. I give a little to you, you give a little to me.It's a united culture," said senior Eryn Schneider senior. "America is individualistic, me over you." The cuisine for the evening featured a sampling of traditional African food from African countries. Some of the meal was made by students although the majority was catered by local restaurants. Events for the evening included a fashion show, dance, spoken word performances, and jeopardy.

The night ended with dancing by all. Traditional apparel was modeled by students from their respective countries. Full of intricate designs, the garb was often brightly colored, with yellows, neon greens, hot pinks, and light blues.Dances from almost every country represented were performed. The amount of skill, dedication, and spirit was evident in the movement and details. Students performing a Nigerian dance incorporated the colors of the flag into their outfits. Other dances included complicated foot-work that impressed the crowd. One highlight was spoken word poet Sylvia Anufoco's performance of poems entitled "Purpose." Her work spoke to the joys and struggles of being in the United States. A jeopardy style quiz ended the formal part of African Night. Members of the audience shouted out answers to questions, ranging from geography to vocabulary. Afterwards, the stage was cleared and the music volume turned up for all to enjoy and get moving.

African Night provided an opportunity for international students to share their culture with other members of the CSC community."[As international students] it's harder to connect with people and often we don't have people from our country around, plus we are becoming oriented to a new culture all at the same time," Wis-Wolo said. "It's a chance to look back at who I am and what made me who I am today."

*College of St. Catherine (CSC) is U.S. Largest Women's College with campuses in St. Paul and Minneapolis - Minnesota.

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