Kaela Belingon / Photo Editor

Student models show off their outfits during Africa Night in Nelson Hall on Friday, April 13, 2024. The African Student Union’s event featured a fashion walk that showed off both traditional and modern African clothing.


A pulsing beat came from the third floor of Nelson Hall on a Saturday night. You could hear, almost even feel, the beat coming through the walls of the auditorium. Along the outside of the auditorium, there were tables lined with tote bags, shirts, bracelets and of course, a boarding pass for NC State’s African Student Union’s second annual African Night. Once past the tables and inside the auditorium, the audience was transported to a place far away from NC State, hence the theme: Coming to America.

Around the auditorium, banners of the flags of different African countries were displayed. But the banners weren’t the only place where the diversity of African culture was represented.

In the crowd, students and families were decked out in traditional clothing from all over the continent. Attendees proudly held flags and carried signs showing off their heritage as well.

ASU Event Coordinator, Olutobi Adeniji, a fourth year Business and Communications major, said it best. “My favorite part was seeing everyone show out in their cultural attire. Me, for instance, I am a first-generation Nigerian-American and seeing a lot of Nigerians show out from different ethnic groups, different tribes, it’s amazing. And also seeing all of the other countries as well, because Africa, you know, there’s only 54 countries, some say 57, but 54 declared countries, and there’s a lot of diversity. A lot of different cultural traditions, music, clothing.”

Hannah Williams, a fourth year Communications major, an audience member who had been eagerly waiting to watch the dance teams listed on the itinerary. “I’m looking forward to all the new performances,” she said. “I have a friend who is performing so I am excited to see her.”

Her wait soon came to an end as the lights dimmed and the emcee stepped out onto the stage. Following the theme, Coming to America, he introduced the program as if the audience were passengers boarding a plane. Models came on stage in pairs, taking their seats on the “airplane,” getting ready to start the show.

To kick off the program, the NC State and UNC Chapel Hill Ethiopian-Eritrean Student Association (EESA) performed thrilling dance routines. The dancers were dressed in different and unique versions of traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean clothing. The dancers had such amazing chemistry with one another. They were always smiling at their dance partners and encouraging each other during solo dances.

Next was the African fashion show. The models showcased clothing from all across the African diaspora. Walking to Afrobeat classics, the models drew cheers as they flaunted both traditional and modern African clothing. From the smiles on their faces all the way down to the confidence in their strides, each of the models brought their own flair to the stage. They were representing themselves and their culture with well-founded confidence.

At end of the show, the models lined up on stage and gave credit to local designers, or even their own closets. As they descended from the stage, they strutted through the aisles, waving and interacting with the crowd.

Mrs. Monique, the main designer showcased at African Night, was full of pride after watching her clothes shine on stage.

“I always like to support the youth, because it is the future… and I know you are all broke,” she laughed. “So that is why I like to collaborate because the other thing is that the new generation is more accepting of African culture, and I really love that part. You showcase your heritage without any shame.”

Mrs. Monique, a Raleigh native and proud Congolese woman, beamed as she shared how proud she was of both the NC State ASU and herself.

After the fashion show, it was time for the Mr./Mx./Ms. ASU Pageant. The pageant crowns those who display African excellence, pride and gives back to their community through ASU and other endeavors.

When the curtains opened, five candidates from across the diaspora took the stage hoping to be crowned as the next for Ms. and Mr. ASU. They each shared their talents, dance moves, and performed to show the audience who they are. Their talents included rapping, playing the saxophone, poetry, spoken word and even how their family shaped their love for being African.

Following the pageant there were two dance teams from neighboring schools who performed in hopes of winning first place in the competition. First, the
award-winning North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCAT) Afroelites took the stage. The Afroelites performed a jaw-dropping set hitting every beat of the music. The Afroelites were followed by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s (UNCG) dance team, Jelani. The Afrobeat dance team undoubtedly tore up the stage, hyping up the audience with their energetic dance moves and creative skits. Crowd members from NCAT, UNCG and NC State were all equally losing their minds as they sang along to the popular Afrobeats songs and cheered for the performers.

Last but not least, was NC State’s newly formed African dance team, Botewa. As they hit the stage, they brought an electric energy to African Night. After showing off what they were made of on stage, the dancers jumped out into the crowd and danced throughout the auditorium. Crowd members quickly rose to their feet and danced along with the team. Even the DJ and emcee came out to dance.

Before sending everyone home, or to the after-party, they crowned the new Mr. and Ms. ASU. Even after the event had concluded, the newly crowned Ms. ASU, Osarobo Obasuyi, a second-year Biological Sciences and International Studies major, was still coming down from the high of winning the title. Her excitement was as palpable as her smile was infectious.

“​​It was a favor for a friend, honestly, that’s what it started out as,” she beamed. “But I mean, I am just so happy to represent my country. It’s just a dream come true, but like a dream that I only had for two weeks.”

From beginning to end the crowd was explosive, clapping and cheering for every move of the performers. The crowd cheered just as loud for everyone. It didn’t matter if the dance team was from their school or if the pageant contest was their friend. The entire night was a celebration of culture, a coming together of people from all over Africa.