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Ikemba Africa Night fosters togetherness

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Ikemba Africa Night fosters togetherness

NASO dancers take the stage at Ikemba Africa Night.

NASO dancers take the stage at Ikemba Africa Night.

Photo courtesy Aritra Ghosh

NASO dancers take the stage at Ikemba Africa Night.

Photo courtesy Aritra Ghosh

Photo courtesy Aritra Ghosh

NASO dancers take the stage at Ikemba Africa Night.

Nia Beckett, lifestyle editor

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A range of artists represented Africa and its diaspora in Blackman Auditorium on Saturday night at the Northeastern African Student Organization’s, or NASO’s, Ikemba Africa Night 2019. Ikemba is an Igbo word meaning “strength of the people.”

Ghanaian entertainer Ebaby Kobby hosted the event, providing comedy surrounding African culture while giving information on each participating group.

“Our show is centered on bringing people out from all over Africa diaspora together through music, art, dance and fashion,” Kobby said.

First-year chemical engineering and biochemistry combined major Elizabeth Kokoti Madison modeled for fashion brands MIZIZI, Boak and Ataria NYC during the show. Coming from a high school with a less prominent African community, she appreciated Northeastern’s support.

“This is very new to me to be in this type of community, so it was really nice that they did this,” Kokoti Madison said. “It was really cool to rep my continent [and] country.”

Several of Africa Night’s performances highlighted talents across college campuses. Second-year biology major Ajoa Addae, known as AJ to friends and fans of her poetry, performed one of her poems that “tells the truth about [her] African diaspora identity,” Addae said. Penn State seniors and aspiring producers Toyin Ores and Lamii performed several songs, combining hip-hop and afro influences. NASO dancers and Brandeis University’s Platinum Step Team displayed cultural pride through movement.

Kobby conducted a roll call during one transition, welcoming the audience to respond as he named countries and regions. He found that attendees represented a range of countries across Africa and its diaspora, with a large number responding for Nigeria and Ghana.

Six women and five men took the stage for a best-dressed contest at the conclusion of the night. The audience cheered to cast their vote for a winner, who received six yards of traditional printed cloth as a prize.

Contest winner Ayomide Balepo flew from Pittsburgh to attend the event in support of her friend, NASO cultural liaison Kamnsi Arachie.

“It was very interesting to see the fashion lines and the dances and the poetry,” Balepo said.

NASO president Rasheed Adenlola wasn’t surprised by the distance some audience members traveled. Many NASO members have contacts with neighboring schools’ African student organizations and come from different regions, Adenlola said.

“Africa Night has been something that’s been very prominent at Northeastern for a good amount of time,” Adenlola said. “I think people expect good things from us.”

The program of this year’s event, which Adenlola said sold out a week ahead, was different than planned. NASO originally secured Nigerian singer Burna Boy as the closing act of the show. Thursday night, Adenlola received an email saying Burna Boy was sick and would no longer be attending the event. The NASO board held an emergency meeting to secure a new act, which ultimately failed due to the short notice.

After the Northeastern Ticket Office sent out an email informing ticket holders of Burna Boy’s cancelation, approximately 100 ticket holders requested refunds, Adenlola said.

“I didn’t really know about Burna Boy before, and all my friends had canceled their tickets,” said second-year sociology major Anneke Gustafson. “I felt bad, so I went because I thought no one else would.”

Despite the incident, NASO “bounced back” and presented an enjoyable show, Gustafson said.

“It shows that they have support and solidarity outside of having a big act,” Gustafson said.

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