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UWRF continues to offer A Chance to Focus on Race: Africa Night

February 26, 2021

Since early fall semester, UW-River Falls has been offering students many chances to Focus On Race. On Thursday, Feb. 25, students will get the chance to experience a night of art and culture from a continent across the sea.

The Black Student Union (BSU), Student Involvement, and the Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIB) office will be presenting their next installment of the We Are Falcons Value Series: A Chance to Focus On Race entitled Africa Night. 

Africa Night is an annual event organized by the BSU to showcase their members, their culture, and their art. President of the student organization, Ezekiel Olakunle explained its significance:

“It’s held within Black History Month to highlight Black History and highlight the origins of Africa and celebrate some of the diversity we have on campus,” Olakunle explained. “[We’re] trying to bring people into another culture. We want to share it with students on campus…to show them some of the amazing things our students are doing.”

Planning for Africa Night typically takes two to three months. Due to limitations this past year, it took less time to prepare for this year’s event. 

“In the future, we see it taking even more time,” Olakunle said, “because we’re going to be doing a lot of planning ahead.” 

Olakunle described the importance of community during Africa Night planning and execution.

“We’ve noticed it works out the best when everyone is involved,” Olakunle explained. “This showcases how strong the group is when we all come together. It’s a big group effort, especially in the past. All hands on deck, everybody is playing a role. Everybody is important to the event.”

Starting at 5 p.m., students who have RSVP’d can pick up food from the DIB office in Rodli Hall. In past years, eating food would be the final event of the night. The ongoing pandemic, however, has required the BSU to change their plans.

Food pickup will end at 6:30 p.m. and the virtual showcase will begin. The showcase will present current BSU students’ music as well as past years’ art. The showcase will end at 7 p.m. before the hour-long presentation by Zuzu Acrobatics.

“Zuzu Acrobatics had been… something that’s been in the talks for the past couple [of] years,” Olakunle explained. “We always wanted to show it in Black History Month. It’s so good that it could be on its own and we felt that this year was the year to implement it into Africa Night.”

When asked what the audience can expect, Olakunle said “It brings together a bunch of different cultures. It’s a group of individuals who are very experienced with dance and music, but I don’t want to say too much and spoil the surprise.”

Africa Night is the BSU’s way to help share their culture with their peers as well as educate them.

“This event is so important because of not only how much it’s grown over the years and how much of a school-wide event it has become but race has been a big topic over the past year, especially in 2020,” Olakunle explained. “That’s why this is the event we put so much time into because of that celebration of culture and sharing those ideas and knowledge of the whole group and Africa in general. I love it when Africa night is in person and for someone to come and leave [and] they know more or they’re not ignorant to a topic they were before. It’s not just a show or entertainment, it’s also a learning moment. Hopefully, they can share the information they learned with others and have that snowball effect.”