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Students Celebrate African Culture with "Africa Night"

By Irfan Mahmud, Contributing Writer

Students sampled ethnic cuisine, attended cultural exhibitions, and competed to be named the first ever “Face of Africa” during “Africa Night,” an annual celebration of African culture hosted by the Harvard African Students Association Sunday.

“Africa Night is the one night where Africans and people interested in Africa all come together to celebrate the culture and diversity of the beautiful continent we call home,” said HASA President Rahim A. Mawji ’15.

The evening featured a broad variety of performances, including a fashion show, a spoken word piece by Tsega Tamene ’15, an Ethiopian dance performance, and a drum and dance piece by the Pan-African Dance and Music Ensemble.

During the evening ten students competed for the title of Face of Africa, with performances ranging from poetry recitation to demonstrations of sign language.

“It’s actually much harder to be a contestant for the Face of Africa than it would appear because you have to represent such a diverse continent,” said contestant Colette Bishogo ’16. “But it’s also such an honor.”

The three judges of the competition rated each contestant and ultimately declared two winners—Harald Oswin ’15 and Nzuekoh N. Nchinda ’14.

Oswin, who marched onto stage wearing a loincloth, had some fun with the audience. He asked left-handed audience members to stand and hold their arms up in the air and those who were right-handed to stand and hold their hands together for what he called a “cognitive experiment." But after he got everyone standing, he took a picture on his phone to send to his mother to prove he got a standing ovation at Harvard.

Despite the diversity in type of performance, several of them focused on the topic of depictions of Africa in the Western World.

Princess Daisy M. A. Akita ’15 and Kimberly S. Mihayo ’15, two Face of Africa contestants, recited a poem about how the world only sees the side of Africa that involves poverty when there is so much more to the continent.

Chiru M. Murage ’16 said she appreciated that Africa Night brought together many different cultures.

“I think it’s a great event, not only to bring African students together, but also to share African food and culture with everyone,” Murage said.

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