Members of the Ohio Wesleyan community took a trip to Africa – without ever having to leave campus.
Rafiki Wa Afrika made the journey possible with its Global Outreach Show, which was held last Saturday in Gray Chapel.
The show consisted of a talent show, including performances from OWU students and students from out-of-state universities. They competed for a prize of $500.
Additionally, “Juxtapower,” a production company from New York City, joined in to give a broad and multifaceted look at South African culture. Omar Edwards, a tap dancer, accompanied them.
Tickets were seven dollars each and benefitted the Ghana Student Education Fund.
The performances including juggling, singing, student dance group “Lace,” stand-up comedy by junior Andrew Rossi, The OWtsiders, student band “Emperor Norton,” step by two members of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity and several others.
Dance crew “Huemanity” from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., took first place. Their routine to techno and dubstep music, paired with acrobatics, drew loud applause from the crowd.
Junior Kimberley Trought and Chartwells staff member Eric “Big E” Brewer emceed the show.
Trought, an international student from Jamaica, said she enjoyed being a host of the event.
“I had a lovely time being one of the hosts for the show,” she said.
“Of course, it is a challenging moment because you have to build a good vibe, know the right things to say and keep the crowd wanting more. While being up there I had to develop a relationship with the audience, which helped with my confidence and my energy – ‘to break the ice.’”
She said emceeing is an electrifying and daring experience, but she will always take the opportunity to do it again.
In order to provide some time between the performances, Rafiki Wa Afrika organized a fashion show, spearheaded by junior Jacqueline Osei-Bonsu, with some pieces for sale to raise additional money.
Osei-Bonsu said the show holds special meaning to her.
“This show is dear to my heart because it benefits an organization my brother co-founded and started, The Ghana Student Education Fund,” she said.
“(I) was the designated fashion show planner. I rounded up models, fitted them, got clothes for them to wear, had many rehearsals, did hair and make up, and got a dance together to open the fashion show.”
She said she was helped by junior Elizabeth Smith, who placed the models in order and also did hair and make up.
Because of the meticulous planning involved in the show, some were disappointed at the lower attendance because of the Easter holiday.
“I think if we were to go back in time we definitely would have picked another weekend to host the event on so that we could have gotten the full blown effect we wanted,” Osei-Bonsu said.
Dr. Randolph Quaye, the director of the black world studies program, had a positive response to the show.
“I do think the show was well planned and effectively executed,” he said. “I truly enjoyed the show, the originality of the various performances and of course, the performance from the group from South Africa. My only regret was that we did not have a great turn out, which I attribute to the schedule given the Easter weekend celebrations.”
Given some of the disappointment about attendance numbers, those involved still saw it as a valuable event.
“Despite the low attendance, I think the show was a success. All of the performances were intriguing and interesting, the fashion show was ethnic, on point, colorful, vivacious and vibrant,” Trought said.
“Juxtapower featuring Omar Edwards was just so awesome and brought that magical experience to the show. Considering all the odds we were up against, the show was one of Rafiki Wa Afrika’s greatest productions.”
Quaye also had some suggestions for making the event bigger and better in coming years.
“What I would like to see is more publicity of the event, good timing, serving African and Caribbean dishes and encouraging more student involvement in the planning of the program,” he said.
He said the show celebrates the rich cultural diversity of Africans and those in the diaspora, offers a unique opportunity for students and the entire community to appreciate the diversity at OWU and generally helps further the goals and the aims of the Ghana Education Fund.
He said it was a worthy cause, and he is glad that Rafika wa Afrika did a wonderful job bringing it to the OWU community.