STORY BY JOHN CARTER JR
VIDEO BY MICHAEL TURNER
Afrifest, an event put on by the African Ambassadors, is a celebration of culture encompassing the continent of Africa. Food, singing, speeches, poetry, and dancing all made for an entertaining and lively evening with the students from African Ambassadors. The event allowed for people of African and Non-African heritage to take part in a culture or to grow in their understanding of different culture respectively. In these pressing times, it is a comfort to understand that people have the potential to celebrate our differences and follow through with that potential.
Student Ida Nkikabahizi, a sophomore psychology major and dancer at the event, said that her culture is important to her because it allows for a connection to previous generations.
“It is basically my identity, and how I’m able to understand myself and my generation and past generations,” Nkikanbahizi said.
Students from any culture take pride in where they come from and like Nkikabahizi, identify with their heritage. Ida is from Senegal and was born in the Central African Republic. She danced at the event multiple times and incorporated multiple styles into her performance.
“My partners and I collaborated on the different kinds of traditional dancing and modern dancing to form our moves,” she said.
Dr. Connie Eigenmann, associate professor of communication studies at Fort Hays State University spoke about her time in Africa. She talked about the different perceptions people have about what Africa is like and the stereotypes people face. This would follow fabulous (and spicy) food, as well as a performance of the Song African Queen. The dancing was amazing and seeing these students amalgamate and synchronize their dance was an impressive sight, to say the least. The African Queens, as they were referenced, show far beyond the usual spirit or pride for culture.
The event allowed many Non-African students to be able to find knowledge and appreciation for Afrifest and their peer’s culture. Resident Assistant Tyler Bloom attended the event, being asked by friends and simply having a personal passion for linguistics and culture.
“It would be a fun time to experience a culture that they (his friends) love and appreciate so much,” said Bloom when asked why he attended. “It is something that connects us all and its what helps us empathize with other people”.
All in all, Afrifest was a celebration of identity and culture for these students. It was warm and welcoming, making people feel comfortable using their innate capacity to understand and respect the differences between us.
“I am interested in cultures because I am a person on the earth and I feel like part of my duty is to engage in other cultures,” said Bloom. Learning about stereotypes, eating cultural foods, and seeing traditional dancing was truly eye-opening and stimulating. These things along with Nkikabahizi’s comment of “of course I am proud of where I come from, it is in my blood!” are genuinely relatable.