“This is the perfect way to kick off the Pan-Afrikan festival,” said Toni Thorpe, the Program Coordinator for the African American Cultural Center. This sentiment was echoed throughout the ballroom in Talley Student Center on Mar. 28 when the African Student Union hosted ASU: Slap Black to Africa. African Night is an event hosted by the African Student Union every year at the beginning of Pan-Afrikan to entertain and inform the public about the different aspects of African culture and the issues that affect Africa in today’s world.
This play had a good balance of laughs and the messages that they were trying to get across to the audience like the child soldiers, the crisis in Darfur, and racism just to name a few.
The show opened up with a short slideshow that was reminiscent of the classic kid show “The Reading Rainbow.” The slideshow gave the audience a preview of the storyline of the play. In Act one of the play, the individuals portraying the father and mother of the play, Demi Olubanwo, a junior in communication, and Jennifer Udom, a junior in biological sciences, dealing with the bad behavior of their son and daughter who, in the beginning, are a little out of control. After much consideration, they came up with the idea that they would trick their children into believing that they were going to Paris when instead they were going to Central Africa and being put into a reformatory school. By the time the children figure out what is going on, it is too late. With the children’s passports in hand, the parents left them at the school and returned home to America.
Being there only a few days, the children had grown tired of the school and were planning their escape; they manage to escape by bribing one of the security guards. After they had escaped, intermission came which was soon followed by Act two. The children’s journey on the way to an airport so that they could go home, they ran into various situations.
First to earn more money, Lola, the daughter, competed in the African Idol (similar to American Idol) and won; after the contest, the children found themselves at a wedding which served as a mini-modeling show that showcased traditional African clothing. They then ran into two dancing troupes, Bolewa and Shamal; Bowela is a traditional African dance group and Shamal is a belly-dancing group. However, in between these performances, members of ASU gave informative pieces of information about the various issues in Africa including genocide, children soldiers, and apartheid.
Next there was the men of ASU doing gumboot dancing, which unknown to many, is a precursor to what we know today as stepping. Following their performance was a spoken word segment done by Janiece Cooley, a freshman in biological sciences, with Cory Hinton, a junior in mechanical engineering at the drums. The title of the poem she read was “Black Before I knew it.”
At the end of play, the children finally understood what they were doing wrong and learned to not only understand but respect their parents for who they are and where they came from. During the closing remarks, the performing groups were recognized alongside with the co-presidents of ASU.
At the conclusion of the event, many students expressed how they enjoyed the show and felt that it went very well this year.
“I enjoyed the concepts of the play and felt that they were informative about various issues occurring in Africa today,” said Margarita Shirley, a sophomore in communication.
Chinyere Onuoha, a sophomore in biomedical engineering and a participate in the show said that the members of ASU put in a lot of effort to put this event together and that it was well worth it.