More than 200 people attended a celebration of diverse African cultures with dance, music, fashion, poetry and drama Saturday at the Ohio Union.
The 2017 African Night is an annual event hosted by the African Youth League, a student organization at Ohio State that promotes cultural awareness.
To the beats of African drums, the show opened with a flag walk. Students dressed in traditional outfits walked on stage with their national flags to showcase national pride.
Grace Azenabor, president of African Youth League, used her opening speech not only to highlight the diversity and achievements of Africa, but also shed light on current human-trafficking issues in Libya.
“In today’s age, Africans are being auctioned off as slaves and although these are completely a violation of human rights and is completely horrific to even comprehend, this is not new,” Azenabor said to the crowd. “We encourage you all to raise awareness of issues like this and this is not the only one in Africa.”
Taylor Lonas, the organization’s historian and a third-year in political science, said the event aimed to unify the African community and celebrate differences.
“I feel like coming together as one, being inclusive and embracing each other’s diversity is really important, for us as Americans and for us as students on our campus,” Lonas said. “It makes us more cohesive as a community.”
She said learning about African cultures helped African-American students learn about roots and heritages that otherwise might not be known.
“I think that unfortunately there is a disconnect between African-American populations and people who identify as Africans,” Lonas said. “That’s why [an] event like this is important to try to get away from the disconnect and the gap between different cultures.”
Jacoi Jackson, a third-year in French, said it also was important for other communities to learn about African cultures.
“A lot of the aspects of African cultures are in other cultures and there are lots of overlaps but nobody sees that because nobody really pays attention to African cultures,” Jackson said.
“Everyone should learn a little bit about different African cultures,” Jackson added. “You never know what you might find. There might be something that surprises you or interests you, or something that influences things you think and do.”