The Bucknell African Student Association (BASA) held BASA Bash in Larison Dining Hall on Nov. 10. This event brings University students, faculty, and staff together to celebrate food, culture, dance, and music from a variety of African countries.
The walls of Larison Dining were decorated with flags from all of the African countries. Hosts Nancy Ingabire Abayo ’19 and Deepshikha Parmessur ’19 guided the audience through the performances, food, and presentations throughout the night.
This year, the event’s theme, Ubuntu, was revealed at the event itself, rather than being used to market the event. BASA Vice President Maya McKeever ’21 said, “When we talked about potential themes with our congress, a recurring theme was community and what we all bring to the table to uplift and support each other. Ubuntu seemed to nicely cover that topic since it encapsulated community as well as the variety of thought and expression that we have as a community. This variety of thought and expression was meant to be shown through our diversity of performances.”
The event kicked off with a dance performance from a new dance group called the Afrolytes. The dance was very upbeat, and the group members had the entire audience clapping along to get in the spirit of the event.
Following the first dance performance, the a capella group, Voices of Praise, sang two soulful gospel songs, “Cumbiaya” and “Calvary.” Then, the audience was taught dance moves from Nigeria and Ethiopia by members of BASA. Many audience members joined the dance teachers on the dance floor to show off what they had learned.
Before enjoying the provided food, the Bisonettes dance group also performed. Then, tables were called up to taste cuisine from Nigeria, Ethiopia, and North Africa. Foods included rice, vegetables, jerk chicken, pork, fish, cooked plantains, and a spicy stew among others. There was also an audience favorite, Injera, which is a flatbread from Ethiopia. Injera is traditionally eaten by scooping up and enjoying other foods on the dish by hand rather than with utensils.
While eating, the audience enjoyed drumming by Kofi Poku ’20 and Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Philip Asare. They explained that next to food and religion, music is an essential aspect to their culture. While many Americans learn the recorder as their first instrument, Poku explained that he learned to drum first.
Throughout the night, the hosts explained both good news and bad news occurring in Africa. Parmessur, being from Mauritius, mentioned that recently the people’s right to free speech has been revoked as anyone who speaks out against the government in Mauritius could face 10 years in prison. However, Abayo highlighted the sprouting of new organizations that promote scientific achievement across Africa.
“Being able to learn about African cultures through music, dance, and food was so much fun! I really feel I learned a lot while I was just hanging out with friends,” Tierney Beauregard ’20 said.
The night ended with a presentation from the BASA President Collin Mills ’21. Mills spoke about post-colonial Africa and how while many aspects of colonial Africa have transformed, there are still certain aspects that remain. For example, he mentioned that prior French colonies still must pay taxes to France, even though they are no longer French colonies. In bringing light to these issues, Mills taught the audience that there have been improvements from colonialism, but there is still much to be done.
McKeever shared her hopes for the event. “I hope that the event opens people up to cultures that they may not have previously known about. I hope that people learned and are able to experience Bucknell and the world with a more open mind and more consciously overall,” she said.
Additionally, McKeever said she hopes the audience “saw the beauty of Africa and all it holds through the food, the dancing, the knowledge, the music, and the community that we attempted to bring together. My main goal was for this to be a labor of love, and I believe it was.”