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HASA Celebrates African Culture

Event Draws 350 Students

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

The Harvard African Students Association (HASA) entertained a crowd of 350 in Lowell Lecture Hall Saturday night with the second annual presentation of "L'Afrique: A Celebration of African Culture."

The highlight of the evening was a fashion show directed by Nana E. Coleman '98. Traditional clothing from Africa was loaned by the African Beauty Station, a Cambridge store, and modeled by Harvard students, many of whom were HASA members.

The presentation was received by thunderous applause that often drowned out the commentary of the master of ceremonies, Mark A. Price '98.

"You could see that people were really enjoying [the fashion show]," Coleman said, adding that the enthusiasm of the models made the audience feel involved in the show.

The evening began with a series of poetry readings intended "to give people a sense of African culture," according to HASA Co-President Iyesatta Massaquoi '99.

Members of HASA read selections from the poetry of David Diop, Okot p'Bitek and Mafika Mbuli, as well as a traditional Fulani creation story.

Taziona G. Chaponda '97 read an original poem about his native Malawi, titled "Drama at Lunzu."

In addition to the poetry, the first half of the celebration featured two performances of gumboot dance, a form of rhythmic dance created by South African gold miners working under terrible conditions.

"This dance was a form of resistance against the oppression they were facing, as well as a form of entertainment," said Chaponda, who led the gumboot dancers.

The first dance group consisted of 22 College students, about half of whom are HASA members. Chaponda said the group was much larger and more diverse than it had been in previous years.

The second group of dancers was Dartmouth's "Roots of Rhythm" group, invited by HASA to perform their own gumboot dances at the show.

The El Shabazz D'Jembe Orchestra, a New York dance troupe that was scheduled to perform after the intermission, had transportation problems and was unable to perform. Instead, Chaponda led an encore of the gumboot dancing.

He also led a well-received interactive portion that allowed audience members to learn some basic gumboot dancing steps.

Coleman, who coordinated the event, said the show was "wildly successful," noting that the lecture hall was overflowing with people. Some members of the audience had to stand in the aisles to see the show.

The audience reacted well to the event, applauding at each break in the performances and almost continuously through the fashion show.

Yayoi J. Shionoiri '00 complimented the organization of the show.

"[The performers] were really proud of their culture, and I really appreciated it," Shionoiri said.

The show was followed by a party at Pforzheimer House, co-sponsored by HASA and the Black Students Association

In addition to the poetry, the first half of the celebration featured two performances of gumboot dance, a form of rhythmic dance created by South African gold miners working under terrible conditions.

"This dance was a form of resistance against the oppression they were facing, as well as a form of entertainment," said Chaponda, who led the gumboot dancers.

The first dance group consisted of 22 College students, about half of whom are HASA members. Chaponda said the group was much larger and more diverse than it had been in previous years.

The second group of dancers was Dartmouth's "Roots of Rhythm" group, invited by HASA to perform their own gumboot dances at the show.

The El Shabazz D'Jembe Orchestra, a New York dance troupe that was scheduled to perform after the intermission, had transportation problems and was unable to perform. Instead, Chaponda led an encore of the gumboot dancing.

He also led a well-received interactive portion that allowed audience members to learn some basic gumboot dancing steps.

Coleman, who coordinated the event, said the show was "wildly successful," noting that the lecture hall was overflowing with people. Some members of the audience had to stand in the aisles to see the show.

The audience reacted well to the event, applauding at each break in the performances and almost continuously through the fashion show.

Yayoi J. Shionoiri '00 complimented the organization of the show.

"[The performers] were really proud of their culture, and I really appreciated it," Shionoiri said.

The show was followed by a party at Pforzheimer House, co-sponsored by HASA and the Black Students Association

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