By Lucas Dean, news correspondent
The Northeastern African Student Organization (NASO) will host its annual Africa Night on Saturday evening to showcase and celebrate African cultures through dance, fashion, song, poetry and comedy. The theme this year is “imani,” which means faith in Swahili.
“Imani: Africa Night” will take place on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. in Blackman Auditorium and feature performances by dance ensembles, singers and spoken word artists, fashion designers and prominent Afrobeat artist Mr. Eazi, who just released his highly anticipated mixtape “Accro to Lagos.” Comedian Aphrican Ape will host the event, which is open to the public.
Members of NASO decided Imani was a perfect theme because faith is an essential part of life, especially during times of uncertainty.
“It came down to what did people relate to most and what is most relevant,” said NOSA Vice President Maria’mawit’ Loulseged, a third-year health science major. “Faith is always relevant in people’s lives.”
The type of faith the event is promoting is not strictly defined, but invokes trust in family, friends and oneself, as well as optimism for the future, Loulseged said.
Each segment of the show will integrate the theme of faith in its own way.
“During times of adversity you can either give up or rise above the adversity,” Loulseged said.
While planning the event, which has been in the works for nearly eight months, NOSA’s executive board took special care to ensure the diversity of African cultures was represented.
Performers for the event come from a wide variety of backgrounds, ranging from Nigeria to Sudan to Ethiopia.
There is more representation from different regions this year than ever before. Northeastern’s Ethiopian dance team, in combination with NOSA’s dance team and Suffolk University’s African hip-hop team TrXbe, will all be performing.
Five fashion designers will be showcasing their clothing, with each designer representing different regions from central and West Africa.
“Every designer brings something different to the show,” Loulseged said. “Missing one designer means missing a region.”
Niu Raza, a singer and songwriter from Madagascar and student at Berklee College of Music, will perform, as well as Safia Elhillo, a Sudanese spoken word artist who won the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. Elhillo’s first full-length poetry collection “The January Children” will be published in 2017.
“This show is to educate people and at the same time express our art and views,” said Elikem Tamaklo, a senior biology major who helped plan the event.
The scope of the show and time that went into planning it mark a milestone for NOSA, said Eden Desta, NOSA’s program coordinator and sophomore bioengineering major. This year the acts are bigger and more diverse than ever before. Although Desta said she would like to sell out Blackman, the main goal of the event is for the audience to genuinely enjoy the show and appreciate and learn more about cultures.
Event coordinators hope “Imani: Africa Night” draws different groups of people from the community and surrounding colleges, and that attendees leave satisfied, informed and empowered.
“I hope for them to see the beauty that is in and around Africa, and how we are more of a global people in that we pull inspiration from different culture,” Tamaklo said.
Photo courtesy Northeastern African Student Organization, Facebook