The ASA brings Africa to Eau Claire

African Student Association hosts second annual African Dinner

Robin Armagost

More stories from Robin Armagost


Photo by Owyn Peters

Shawn Smith, a first-year student, served food to attendees at the African Dinner event.

Last Saturday, the African Student Association hosted its second annual African Dinner from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Ojibwe Ballroom at the Davies Center. The event had various African foods, dances, music, a fashion show and a Kahoot game.

According to Michael Thomas, the advisor of ASA, the purpose of the event is to educate the campus and community about African tradition, culture and identity. It is also a fundraiser for the ASA. The event is open for everyone to come.

Thomas has been the advisor for ASA since spring of 2017, and he said he enjoys his job of learning from students, connecting them to resources and empowering them. 

Thomas said the ASA is about 10 years old and currently consists of 30-35 members who are not only African but people who support the culture as well. 

“Student leaders have always wanted to bring African culture to UW-Eau Claire,” Thomas said. “This is the second year of this event and it’s great.”

The event started off with Eleni Seyoum, the president of ASA, welcoming everyone with a speech. 

“Take a few moments to think about Africa. What comes to your mind? Do you see exotic animals, mud huts, little brown kids with flies around their eyes?” Seyoum said. “Perhaps you see people who are unhealthily skinny, or have tendencies towards violence. Given the way we are portrayed, it would not surprise me if you found yourself internalizing these misconceptions. It is hard to truly see the whole picture when it is zoomed out and out of focus.”

Seyoum said the point of the event is to educate people about Africa’s many countries and their culture. 

“We are going to bring that picture into focus and to zoom in a little more.” Seyoum said. “You can have a much better chance of understanding who we truly are.” 

Seyoum said the virtues that are important in Africa are unity, love and harmony.

“I say unity because we like to come together — mostly to eat.” Seyoum said. “I say love because that is the reason we stay together. I say harmony because even though us ASA members come from many different countries all over the African continent — even the world — we manage to stick together beautifully.” 

Following the address, an African song called “Powerful” was performed by Eleni Seyoum and Emma Fredrick. 

More entertainment followed with the ASA performing a dance routine accompanied by drummer Olu Famule, who had a solo performance after the dance routine. 

The last event was the fashion show, which featured 27 individuals each wearing different traditional outfits from Africa and India. 

Sophia Flood El-Yafi, the vice president of ASA, ended the night with closing remarks, thanking the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) for their support in the event and the audience for attending. 

“As I look around the room, I’m happy to see all of our hard work and dedication.” El-Yafi said. “We made this event educational and absolutely spectacular.”

Armagost can be reached at [email protected]