(WITH VIDEO) – African spirit was brought to Murray State Friday as approximately 40 students gathered to host the third annual Taste of Africa event with dances, music and food.
The African Student Association, or ASA, held the event in the Curris Center Large Ballroom in partnership with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, which brought in hundreds of students, faculty and staff.
Aimee Love, senior from Rwanda and one of the event organizers, said the goal of ASA is to enhance understanding of African lifestyle and bringing in Taste of African attendees is one way to do so.
“The first time we did not expect so many people, but we were really surprised a large number of students, teachers and staff showed up,” Love said. “Last year we had around 300 people. And this year we expect(ed) a lot too.”
Originally from Rwanda, a country nestled between Tanzania, the Dominican Republic of the Congo and Uganda, Love moved with her family to Louisville, Ky., as a child.
She, along with the members of the African Student Association and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, led the event and worked to make sure it was a memorable one for everyone involved.
“It’s a good chance to taste the food, learn about the African culture and meet new people,” said Andy Dettlinger, freshman from Louisville, Ky.
The event featured traditional music from start to finish, and green, red, black and yellow decorated the room, representing the “birthplace of humanity,” as ASA members call the African region.
Each table had a flag of an African country, highlighting the food
served from the African region.
“I expect(ed) good food,” said Justin Clarke, sophomore from Paducah, Ky. “It’s a taste of Africa, literally and figuratively.”
Justin Frazier, senior from Paducah, Ky., was an organizer, and he said he was enthusiastic about putting on the show in celebration of African culture and said this is his second year helping with the event.
“I am participating because I want to express African culture,” said Frazier.
Frazier said he hopes to do it again next year, too.
At one moment, the ballroom went from boisterous celebration to silence for Carolyne Tanui, graduate student from Kenya, as she read a poem written about being African.
“I am African for her blue skies that take my breath away,” she said to the crowd, which was only one part of the poem she read. “And my hope for the future is bright. I am an African for her people greet me as family and teach me the meaning of community.”
Story by Aydan Aslanova, Contributing writer