African Student Association hosts “A Night in Africa”

Students and community gather for celebration of African culture

Liam Flake

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Photo by Liam Flake

One of the highlights of the evening was the fashion show, which featured styles from all over Africa.

On Saturday, Nov. 5, the African Student Association at UW-Eau Claire hosted “A Night In Africa” in the school’s Ojibwe Ballroom, an event aimed at celebrating African culture. The event lasted two hours and offered a full meal of African cuisine in addition to a variety of presentations.

Performances at the event included a speech from ASA advisor Anthony Wallace, poetry, drumming, saxophone, dance and a fashion show, as well as a presentation about food and a Kahoot competition.

The event cost $15 for community members, $10 for students and $5 for children.

Two attendees at the event were Cassandra and Blessed Ndlovu, who attend each year. They shared that the event offers them a unique chance to share African culture with their children. 

While Cassandra grew up in Eau Claire and now works as a nursing instructor at the university, they explained, Blessed is originally from Zimbabwe.

“We’re always looking for a cultural experience. We’ve lived in all over, including Africa, together. We want to incorporate both of our cultures for our kids,” she said.

However, Blessed also expressed a desire for more representation of his own roots.

“I wish there was a little more southern African representation, but it is what it is,” he said.

Overall, Cassandra stated that the event offered a unique opportunity in the stage of the community, particularly with attendees who are both involved with the school and not.

“I really like seeing the students’ involvement … it’s pretty special,” she said.

Also at the event were Vanessa Martinez-Romero and Soliyana Negash, two members of the ASA who helped check-in attendees.

As such, they were able to provide insight into the planning and execution of A Night in Africa.

Notably, they said, the event was entirely planned and run by students. While the organization has received more assistance from the university in the past, conflicting engagements resulted in more responsibility for the ASA.

“I think this year they had to do more of it themselves. In past years, they had a little more support from staff — usually there’s people helping either with food or with setting up — but this year, we had to do it all ourselves,” Negash said.

Martinez-Romero also provided insight into the biggest challenge involved in organizing the event, saying that it was “getting people together and finding a time that worked for everybody,” 

“Besides that, I think it was pretty easygoing since the group is so close. Everyone gets along pretty well,” she said.

They also stated that A Night in Africa is the ASA’s main annual event — however, students and community members can keep track of any further happenings with the organization via their Instagram page.

Negash also shared more insight into the organization itself, saying that “It really is just a group of students coming together, getting along, having fun. And that’s the main premise: a community for African students to come to.”

Flake can be reached at [email protected].