A diverse group of McDaniel students, faculty, and staff as well as local community members gathered on Monday, Feb. 20 to celebrate cultures and people of Africa for the second annual Celebrating Africa dinner.
The dinner, which featured African food, dancing, music and fashion, was a unique away to spend part of an evening at McDaniel College.
Student participants in the event graced attendees with two African dances, beginning with a traditional West African dance and followed up later in the evening with a more contemporary dance that energized the crowd.
As attendees of the Celebrating Africa dined on African-inspired dishes that included peanut stew and falafel, speakers read poetry and professed their love for African nations such as Zambia and Ghana.
One of the major goals of the event was to present Africa in a realistic and positive light and address stereotypes that people have about Africa.
“Celebrating Africa means educating, informing, and celebrating the beauty of Africa,” said senior and Sophisticated Ladies and Gentlemen president Kwei Maduot-Parek, who was in charge of organizing the event. This event is supposed to change people’s negative or ignorant perceptions of the African continent to what reality of the continent is like, she continued. With the support of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and the Office of Student Engagement, Sophisticated Ladies and Gentlemen sponsored the event.
To demonstrate and dispel myths surrounding the African continent and culture, one group of students gave a presentation called “Misconceptions about Africa.” Using the “What People Think I Do” meme, the students showed that Africa isn’t just about tribes and living off the land. Plenty of people in Africa live in houses. The presentation also included a video that highlighted perceptions that students and faculty have about Africa.
The evening also had an interactive trivia component that gave attendees the chance to show off their knowledge of African flags and capital cities.
Finally, things wrapped up with a student fashion show featuring unique, colorful, and diverse examples of traditional African clothing.
“It is important that people from African countries celebrate their heritage and for other who have never been to Africa to experience and learn more about the culture,” said Maduot-Parek.
More events like Celebrating Africa are a necessity for McDaniel in order to celebrate and educate people about different cultures, she said. She added, “I hope people walked away with a good experience that they can share with people that were unable to attend.”