Music and dancing filled the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts as African students celebrated their culture.
Pitt State students and community members had the opportunity to attend African Cultural Night from 5 to 8:30 p.m., April 5 at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. Hosted by the African Student Association (ASA), the event was a celebration of African culture and history.
“The purpose of the night was to promote cultural awareness,” said Peter Nyachira, graduate student business administration and public relations officer for ASA. “… to promote African culture in Pittsburg State because… as an African Student Association, we feel it’s our goal to enlighten, educate, and promote people and show people what Africa looks like, what Africa is about, what are the cultures in Africa.”
The night began with a singing of the American national anthem. Professor of history and ASA advisor Stephen Harmon gave a presentation about some of the history of Africa, some ‘myths’ people may have about the continent, as well as what developments and technologies have come out of Africa.
A variety of dances followed the presentation and danced by various students.
“Some were traditional, some were modern dances,” Nyachira said. “We evolve over time, and as we evolve, we also come up with new things, but you try as much as possible… all the dances we do. We try traditional dances, we did modern dances, so the show was a mixture of both”
Members of ASA choreographed all the dances, and there were additional dances by members of Eclectic Soul Studio.
“We collaborated with Eclectic Soul Studio,” Nyachira said. “They have a studio downtown, and they are a studio that encourages… They had two performances. The love African culture, they love all cultures. We were pretty much surprised and amazed and appreciated working with them.”
Other performances included singing, a game of Kahoot quizzing the participants about Africa, and a fashion show that showcased numerous men’s and women’s outfits with traditional patterns and styles.
Community members and students alike were able to learn more about Africa and the cultures of the continent from attending the event.
Soyeon Shin, junior in business, said she learned a lot and enjoyed the event.
“I learned a lot,” Shin said. “I think it’s really good for other people to learn other cultures. I loved the singing… it was the best.”
Community member Eva Connolly was born and raised in Pittsburg, and said she learned more about the geography of Africa.
“I didn’t realize how divided it was,” Connolly said. “I thought it was all one country, but I didn’t realize it was all divided… into different sections. (It’s good) because all the students and the community can learn about different nationalities and how they came here to learn and all.”
Connolly said she enjoyed the performances as well.
“It seemed like an interesting thing to come see the dances,” she said. “I learned little bit more about their culture and the dancing and the singer was really good.”
According to Nyachira, he hoped at the end of the night that those who attended would leave knowing more about Africa, and that “learning was the goal.”.
“I want people to have an open mind and be aware of different things that exist outside of U.S. culture,” he said. “So, learning and being exposed to other cultures is one thing that broadens your mind and if you are in the process of learning how other people live, how other people do. So, that’s why I want people to learn and know and spread cultures that exist somewhere else in the world... Tonight, you were able to learn something from Africa.”