Step into a world where Afro beats set the rhythm, dance moves paint the night and fashion takes center stage. The first Met Gala hosted by NC State’s African Student Union (ASU) on Nov. 9 was a night of cultural extravagance. Hence the theme ‘Young, Rich, and African.’ From star-studded gowns to sleek suits and traditional African attire, students from across the diaspora and beyond graced the red carpet with a blend of style and heritage. As students entered the ballroom, the inviting scents of jollof rice and puff puff filled the air, and they knew it was going to be a night to remember.
ASU’s Met Gala celebrated African culture with captivating musical sets from NC State students and alumni, as well as dance performances by the Ethiopian-Eritrean Student Association and Arab Student Association. The night began with a mesmerizing saxophone solo by Dylan Thomas, a second-year student majoring in Biochemistry.
Nubian Message: What inspired your performance for the Met Gala?
Dylan Thomas: I was told to pick an Afrobeats song and perform, and I’m a big fan of Tems. Free Mind was mellow, but it had a good upbeat feel at the same time. With ‘Like I Do’ by Fireboy DML, that was more of like a ballad and I feel like it was kind of a good way to get the crowd moving.
NM: What is the importance of ASU at NC State?
DT: I think it really is a great way to like bring unity to Africans on campus because it’s a big school and it is a PWI. So, people often have a hard time finding a community. So I think ASU provides an easy way to find a network of people that kind of have similar backgrounds to you.
In between musical sets like Thomas’, the Met Gala had lively dance competitions, fashion shows and sing-offs. Nubian Message got the chance to speak with attendees, such as sing-off winner Zania Sanders, a second-year student majoring in Science, technology, and society.
NM: What brought you out to the Met Gala tonight and what was your favorite part?
Zania Sanders: What brought me out to the Met Gala was knowing that our Black community was going to get together and I had a chance to get dressed and be fashionably cute. My favorite part was the dancing because I love dancing a lot. And I plan to join ASU’s dance team.
NM: What is the importance of ASU?
ZS: I think it educates and it brings together a lot of cultures…I’m pretty sure there are people who are from Africa, and they just don’t know their ancestry but being in this environment and being cultured very much feels like you’re at home or a part of a community
Similar to Sanders, Annie Houser, a second-year majoring in Political science, shared how much she loved the dance performances at the Met Gala.
NM: What has been your experience at the Met Gala tonight and what was your favorite part of tonight?
Annie Houser: I got all dressed up to look pretty and other people came in their traditional clothing and it just looks beautiful. My favorite part was the dancing, I love the dancing! I loved the Dabke, that was incredible. The spin move they did like shook the floor and everything. It was crazy!
Along with attendees, Nubian Message also got the chance to speak with the organizers of the Met Gala such as ASU’s Social Media Manager, Bethel Chanyalew, a second-year student majoring in Social work.
NM: What was the planning process like for the Met Gala on the social media side?
Bethal Chanyalew: We started planning a couple of months back just making good announcement posts to get the momentum going. We had to make a lot of TikTok promotions so that we could get people hyped. If you remember African Night last year, the TikToks are really what got a lot of attention. So we wanted that same energy for the Met Gala.
NM: What is the importance of ASU?
BC: I think that since we go to a PWI, ASU is really important because it really brings together students – African students, Black students, people of color – it brings them all together. On a campus that is so big it can feel very isolated very quickly, so ASU brings you a sense of community, it brings you a sense of home.
Lead Event Coordinators, Joys Lutwangu, a second-year majoring in Political science, and Diarra Diagne, a second-year majoring in Political science, also spoke about the inspiration for the Met Gala and the importance of ASU.
NM: What inspired the Met Gala and why is it important to have events like this?
Joys Lutwangu: I think it was really important that we hosted an event like this because honestly, at a PWI when you see a lot of the formal events going on, they don’t cater to those of African descent or people of color. Every time I saw like a formal event going on, it was always my white counterparts like getting dressed up and going somewhere for like a fraternity or sorority, but you never really saw an event like that for like Black people where we could get dressed up and have a good time at a formal event. So, we liked the idea of incorporating a Met Gala with this year’s events for ASU, and the inspiration behind the theme was actually a TV show on Netflix, based in Nigeria, called Young, Rich, and African. It’s a reality TV show that follows these very, like, elite, young, rich African Nigerians who go through their day-to-day doing what young rich Africans do.
NM: What was the coordination process like for the performances?
JL: We wanted the performances to be NC State centered so we looked into NC State alumni and NC State students with talents that we wanted to showcase. We also did want to mimic the actual Met Gala itself because a lot of people don’t know this, but the Met Gala has an art show to it. So you see the celebrities on the red carpet, but what you don’t see is that they go look at a bunch of art. With our rendition of the Met Gala, we wanted to have an art show, but with actual students showcasing their art, whether it be through vocals, instruments, dance or anything else.
NM: What is the importance of ASU?
Diarra Diagne: I feel like the importance of ASU for the population at NC State is just to expose the African culture as well as to unite different groups together. I know African is in the name, but we draw attention to all different kinds of people. ASU is about bringing everybody together and spreading the African culture while still being appropriate and understanding that there is a rich history.
JL: The importance of ASU is giving attention to the African diaspora and also just giving a safe space for African students, whether they’re first-gen, straight from Africa, or they know they have African ancestry, I think the African Student Union provides not only space, but an opportunity be better connected to your roots.
The Met Gala was not just an everyday event; it was a dynamic cultural celebration that created a sense of belonging in the heart of the university’s community. ASU emphasized that the Met Gala was just the beginning of what they have in store for the rest of the school year.