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‘Show Out and Represent’: Contestants and Crowds Electrify at NSA Starboy 2024

Lowell Lecture Hall is located at the corner of Oxford and Kirkland Streets. The Harvard Nigerian Students Association hosted their second annual "Starboy" event at the lecture hall on Friday.
Lowell Lecture Hall is located at the corner of Oxford and Kirkland Streets. The Harvard Nigerian Students Association hosted their second annual "Starboy" event at the lecture hall on Friday. By Michelle H. Aye
By Hiral M. Chavre and Aisatu J. Nakoulima, Contributing Writers

The Harvard Nigerian Students Association hosted their second annual “Starboy” event — an all-male pageant and fashion show — at Lowell Lecture Hall on Friday. Tami Kabiawu ’25 took home the title of Starboy 2024.

This year, eight contestants competed for the title, participating in a variety of events including modeling walks, a footwork competition, a talent show, and a Q&A session. The Starboy contestants vied for cash prizes, free merchandise, and a free ticket to the NSA gala in the fall, with the winner determined by an audience vote.

The show also featured guest performances from Omo Naija X Wahala Boys — one of Harvard’s African dance teams — and Afrithms, an African dance troupe from Boston University.

Two contestants from each class year participated in the pageant: Kabiawu, Chibuikem C. Uche ’24, David E. Lewis ’24, Tega Ajise ’25, Ayande P. Joseph ’26, Will D. Ayinon ’26, Hanif S. Mouehla ’27, and Onyinye E. Okonkwo ’27. Uche and Okonkwo were crowned the second and third place winners, respectively.

The show began with an introduction of the contestants, who walked across the stage in traditional Nigerian garb. The clothing represented four Nigerian tribes: the Edo, Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba. The contestants also donned more contemporary African clothing for a later round of the fashion show.

NSA President Folukemi O. Olufidipe ’25 said African fashion was “the biggest emphasis” of the competition.

“We’re representing different tribes from Nigeria and the greater African diaspora,” she said.

NSA Executive Programming Chair Ibilola C. Esho ’26 — who co-organized the event — said she played a major role in crafting the fashion worn by the contestants.

“I actually designed the individual pieces myself,” she said. “I styled all the looks.”

According to Joseph, not all eight of the contestants were Nigerian, showcasing the diversity of the African diaspora through the pageant.

Joseph, who is not Nigerian, said Starboy sends a message of “unity between the African community and African American community.”

“We have so many similarities, and a Starboy can be from either,” he said.

The Nigerian contestants also hailed from a variety of tribal backgrounds. Mouehla — who is Hausa-Fulani — said Starboy gave contestants the opportunity to share their heritage.

Mouehla said that on Harvard’s campus, the “Hausa-Fulani tribe is pretty underrepresented.”

“So I decided that this is my opportunity to show out and represent for my tribe, my community, and my heritage,” he said.

After the fashion show, contestants participated in a footwork competition. They were given a few beats each to display their skills, including steps like the butterfly leg work and freestyle.

The footwork competition concluded in a tie between Kabiawu and Joseph following a fierce dance-off between the two contestants.

After the footwork competition, the group moved on to the talent show. Okonkwo — who impressed judges with a saxophone performance of Bill Withers and Grover Washington Jr.’s “Just The Two of Us” — took home the victory for that round.

The contestants actively engaged with the audience throughout the show, inciting thundering cheers. Some audience members were pulled onstage to dance with contestants, and others were invited to display their outfits between contestant appearances.

At the conclusion of the event, audience members voted for their favorite candidate via QR code. John R. Bugeraha ’26 — one of the judges and last year’s Starboy — then announced Kabiawu’s victory.

In an interview after the event, Kabiawu said he had signed up to compete for Starboy just one day before the pageant.

“I joined this yesterday at 5 p.m.,” he said. “My roommate got sick. He has strep throat, and he was supposed to be in the show, so I put in for him.”

With less than 24 hours to prepare, Kabiawu nonetheless took home the title of 2024 Starboy.

“I’m happy I won, but I’m just more so happy that we put on a great show and I was just able to do it with all of them,” he said.

Reflecting on the event, Olufidipe emphasized how crucial students were to making Starboy happen.

“So many people have put in such an insane amount of work, and it’s really crazy,” she said. “I think that’s one thing the audiences always don’t get to see, just the work that has been put in on all fronts and all angles.”

Mouehla also pointed to students’ dedication to making the show memorable.

“Although it’s been a lot of work since this is show week, it’s definitely been worth it,” Mouehla said.

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