The event was scheduled to take place in the Ohio Room of the Hadley Union Building (HUB) from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., although the night kept rolling with so much talent to show and the momentum of the crowd.
The Pan African Student Association holds Africa night every year, with the exception of a couple of years lost to the pandemic.
“So today is the first Africa Day since the pandemic happened,” Maimouna Ndongo (senior, sociology) said.
“This year, we just tried to change it up a little bit, so ‘The Night of Royalty.’ Next year, it’s a surprise.”
“This year we wanted to be extravagant.”
“We tried to make it magical. Have everybody dress up. And it’s really enjoyable, we’re enjoying our night.”
Ndongo is the current president of the Pan African Student Association.
Asked how this Africa Day stacked up to the former renditions, the president was confident in the success of the night.
“Good, very good, because we have more members now,” Ndongo said.
“There’s a lot of people that showed up, like, previously there was a lot of people who didn’t show up, so it was wonderful to see a lot of people here.”
“Just everyone enjoying it, seeing everyone smile, and having, not all, but most of the IUP community. It’s a wonderful thing to have everybody here, tonight.
Dr. Marveta Ryan-Sams, a professor in the foreign languages department and coordinator of the Pan-African Studies Program, was a guest speaker at the event and spoke on various manifestations of racial bias and discrimination: from the housing market to facial recognition software.
Ryan-Sams ended her speech with a pointed question for the audience, “you are royal, how are you going to use your power?”
But before and after serious moments like Ryan-Sams’ talk and a handful of hard-hitting poems, were high-energy musical performances, modeling sets, and dance numbers.
The host of the event and DJ Rue kept the energy up and the night running smoothly even when faced with the occasional hiccup that comes with four hours of live entertainment.
“Tonight was good,” Rue said.
“I couldn’t want anything better than what I got, I mean, everything was fine, and we had fun. Couldn’t ask for a better night.”
Asked if there were any highlights Rue admitted to favoring the dances.
“Mostly the dancing, you know, I worked on the mix,” Rue said.
“That was one of my biggest things, hearing my mix, seeing them dance and seeing the crowd react. That was cool.”
“I was nervous,” Hawakhayla Issahak (freshman, nutrition) said.
Issahak was one of the dancers in the Afro Killers dance group.
“But when I got in front of the crowd, I was like ‘okay, let’s do this, and let’s get off stage.’”
Towards the end of the night, the current executive board of the Pan African Student Association passed the torch to the new executive board.
And right after the new executive board was announced, everyone in the crowd who felt they were best dressed, was invited to come on stage and run for King or Queen of Africa Night.
A line of people formed on stage and each person was introduced to the crowd with music and encouraged to strut center stage to the cheers of the crowd.
An unexpected speech was given by a woman who was moved by the events of the night, and perhaps the highlight of the night was her crowning as Queen of Africa Night.