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The Dartmouth
May 27, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dartmouth celebrates Africa Week

The Dartmouth African Student Association held a series of events last week to promote Pan-African unity, culminating in a fake wedding ceremony on May 11.

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From May 6 through May 11, the Dartmouth African Students Association hosted a series of events in celebration of Africa Week, an annual week-long celebration of the diverse identities, cultures, traditions and experiences of people of African descent, according to DASA co-chair Amanda Adetula ’26. Adetula said this year’s theme was “Beyond Borders: Towards Pan-African Unity.”

The week’s programming began on May 6 with a community discussion featuring four faculty panelists — history professor Naaborko Sackeyfio-Lenoch, art history professor Adedoyin Teriba and African and African American studies professors Clifford Campbell and Ayo Coly. According to Teriba, a central part of the discussion was the unity between Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.

“Think of [Africa Week] as a building block, as a foundation, for ways to engage with people across national borders, but also with the continent,” Teriba said.

Africa Week was reinstated in 2023 after a four-year hiatus during the pandemic. This year’s celebrations culminated on May 11 with a fake wedding ceremony and gala held in the Collis Center. According to Adetula, the event celebrated the “marriage” between Maryanne Barasa ’25, a Kenyan, and Ikenna Nwafor ’27, a Nigerian, and featured customs from the Kikuyu and Yoruba ethnic groups.

Adetula and Oumiekhari Fatty-Hydara ’27, the hosts at the fake wedding, incorporated traditions from different cultures into the clothing, rituals, food and music during the event, according to Adetula. One tradition that Adetula highlighted was the Idobale.

“The Yoruba family … plank[s] for as long as the bride’s family wants,” Adetula said. “If they can’t hold it they have to pay, so it’s a sign of respect.”

The fake wedding featured Nigerian food from TamBo’s kitchen in Avon, Mass., according to DASA co-chair Chukwuka Odigbo ’25. He said dishes included jollof rice, braised chicken, melon “egusi” soup, pounded yam, poff-poff and samosas. 

According to Odigbo, food was a “necessity” to keep people nourished for the multiple-hour event.

“In every wedding the commonality is [that] … there is just food,” Odigbo said.

According to ceremony DJ Ian Gichuki Kinyanjui ’26, the event featured music from eastern, western and southern Africa. He said he included “modern songs” as well as 1980s and 1990s “Zilizopendwa,” which means “songs we used to love” in Swahili.

“I loved the food — I actually came here for the food, to be honest,” wedding attendee Victory Igwe ’27 said. “I really loved the dances — the drummers [and] the musicians [were] all fun. I really hope it happens again.”

Melton Sawadogo ’27, another wedding attendee, said the event had a “lively” atmosphere.

“Everybody was up, everybody was dancing,” Sawadogo said. “I feel like this is a place where all the people of African backgrounds can feel at home and feel like we [are] each other’s family.”

Other events during Africa Week included an African ethnography sip and paint on May 7, a dance class — featuring Afrobeats and South African Amapiano — on May 8 and a barbecue and field games event on May 10, according to Adetula.

Patrick Mvoo, who attended the barbecue, said he “love[d]” how people at the barbecue were “coming together [and] sharing food.” He attributed the sense of unity at the events to DASA’s efforts. 

“The African community here at Dartmouth [is] more closely knit than I expected it to be,” Mvoo said. “I think I can attribute that mostly to DASA and … different events they organize.”

According to the DASA website, 15 students were involved in planning and holding the week’s events, with support from several Dartmouth programs — including the house communities and the Institute for Black Intellectual and Cultural Life.

“I’m really happy with how this came together,” Fatty-Hydara said. “We’ve been working on getting this put together for many many months. … I’m excited for next year.”