On Friday, the African Student Organization, or ASO, entertained UCF students with their dancing, singing, and fashion shows – both traditional and modern.
Maria Onatunde, public relations officer, said that there’s a lot of misconceptions when it comes to Africa. From Nigeria herself, Onatunde shared that ASO’s mission is to change these misinterpretations, by promoting African awareness in the UCF community as well as the Orlando community. Through the showcase, Onatunde and the others hoped to educate students and faculty on Africa’s beautiful and rich diversity.
“We’re educated and we’re surrounded by educated people, but still a lot of people have a single story about Africa. People even refer to Africa still as a country,” Onatunde said. “I feel like when people think of Africa, they think of how media portrays it; schemes happening, corrupt governments, and they only have a single story of what Africa really is.”
After a traditional African dance performance and acoustic serenade, attendees were entertained with the first segment of a unique fashion show. Members of ASO were transformed one by one with their culture’s traditional dress – from beige-brown djellabas, native to North Africa, to brightly colored and intricate patterned wraps native to East Africa.
“We hope that through the showcase we can really show people more about Africa even though we’re only representing bits and pieces of it,” Onatunde said.
The theme of the showcase, “Vibrant Colors,” truly came alive with each model’s walk across the runway.
But it was the Tam Tam dancers from Congo who stole the show. Two dancers moved to the beat of the drummer, who was covered in beads, face paint, and donned a colorful headpiece. Their dance resembled more of an intense workout, yet the dancers, who wore grass skirts, moved with ease, smiling ear to ear the full length of the performance.
The Tam Tam leader, blew a whistle to the beat and faced the attendees. Pausing to catch his breath, he repeated a phrase in his native tongue to the audience. At the sound of his whistle, attendees echoed it back to him. The showcase was highly interactive with the audience because during each performance at least one or two guests would pop out of their seat and begin swaying to the music.
ASO members showed off their traditional African dance in their very own Dance Troupe. Onatunde says it was a mix of all the girls’ traditional dance moves combined. The ladies wore skirts with wooden bells that jingled with each step.
“People in the dance troupe are from different countries so parts of the dance represent different countries,” Onatunde said.
After all the performances, the hosts led everyone in a moment of silence for the brutal massacre of 147 students killed in Garissa, Kenya just two weeks ago.