BASO’s seventh annual Night for Africa, vibrant and powerful

November 17, 2017

Brandeis African Students Organization (BASO) held its stunning, seventh annual Night for Africa in Levin Ballroom on Saturday, Nov. 11. In celebration of the various cultures of the African diaspora, this year’s theme was “Nyumbani,” which means “home” in Swahili.

Against a beautifully painted backdrop of a woman’s head in side profile and “Nyumbani” cascading down the banner, Night for Africa was filled with many memorable performances. The show featured the banter and commentary of emcees Kwesi Jones ’21 and Melissa Nicolas ’21, who introduced each act and maintained a fun atmosphere throughout the show.

The night’s most frequent type of performance, by far, was dance. Kicking off the show was Boston University’s AFRITHMS dance group. Dressed all in black, they commanded the stage with energy and precision.

Offering a different type of dance was LatinXtreme, Brandeis’ Latin dance group. They showcased a range of styles, with a more modern number in addition to a ballroom dance piece. Their costumes matched the vibrancy of the music, with colorful frilled dresses in hues of red, blue and yellow. Adding to the upbeat performance were the smiles on the dancers’ faces, who all exuded happiness while performing.

One of the most memorable performances was Fafali: Music and Dance from Ghana, a drumming and dance group. Half of the performers clustered to the side with traditional Ghanaian drums, and the other half formed a circle in the middle of the stage. As some students pounded a beat on the drums, the dancers moved around the circle in time to the music. The performance was captivating; the dancers’ movements sped up as the drum rhythm became faster, and one couldn’t help but keep their eyes glued to the mesmerizing dance moves and the pounding drumsticks.

Stop Motion Dance Crew, a Brandeis hip hop group, performed to a Chris Brown medley, closing the first act with rousing applause before a brief intermission. Rebelle Dance Team opened the second act with a medley of various songs.

Night for Africa also featured another off-campus group, PATU: Boston College’s African Dance Group. Short for Presenting Africa to You, PATU performed both traditional and modern African dance styles with exuberance and precision. To cap off the night’s talented dancers, Brandeis’ Platinum Step Team wowed the crowd with a step performance to close the show.

Aside from dance performances, Yasmine Haddad ’20 slowed it down with a lovely rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.” A few acts later was a striking poetry performance by Awa Soumahoro ’20. In a stunning, vibrantly colored dress of yellows and greens, Soumahoro delivered spoken word poetry in a clear and confident voice. Her work focused on the difficulty of being black in America, and how she situates her personal experiences in a historical legacy of oppression.

In the second act, Bethlehem the Producer (Bethel Adekogbe ’20) took the stage to perform his remix of Mr Eazi’s “Leg Over.” A screen lowered above the stage to show his accompanying lyric video, which also included prompts for the audience to join in on the “Leg over” lyric in the chorus. He easily commanded the stage, even spontaneously free-styling a rap verse to stall for technical difficulties.

The show concluded with a fashion show to highlight beautiful African styles. Participants strutted down the walkway of the Levin stage before posing at the front to much applause.

During the show’s second act, the E-board of BASO came onstage to introduce themselves, perform a short choreographed dance and thank everyone for coming. Night for Africa would not have been possible without their hard work, and the audience’s appreciation was evident in its cheers and applause for each E-board member.

Israel Mnyitafu ’19, president of BASO, told The Brandeis Hoot that, “As an international student in a country that’s a melting pot of cultures, it [Night for Africa] further reinforces my identity as an African and enables me to embrace that identity within multitudes of people, thus helping me celebrate our differences.”

He believes the show was a success, especially in terms of “the time and effort that was put in organizing the event and the sheer brilliance of the performances.”

Dinner and an after-party followed the show, ending the success of Night for Africa on a high note.

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