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Extravaganza rooted in culture

Nov. 11, 2005

by LAUREN BURRIS, reporter

Makossa dance. African dramas. Colorful dress.

This weekend the Baylor African Student Association will hold its seventh annual Cultural Extravaganza.

This year is the biggest event ever, with ASA chapters from 17 Texas universities and one Oklahoma school coming to campus to celebrate African culture and traditions.

The theme of this year's event is R.O.O.T.S., "Recognizing Our Origins Through Solidarity."

"You see all the (African) mannerisms," Plano junior Mfrie Imoh said. "It's fun to be around people that remind you where you come from."

Weekend events include a dance and poetry competition at 6 p.m. today in Waco Hall, a fashion show and drama competition at 10 a.m. Saturday in Waco Hall and a jazz banquet at 7 p.m. Saturday in 510 Cashion Academic Center. The banquet costs $20, but the other events are free and open to the public.

"I'm just excited about how everybody's getting together for a fun-filled weekend," Plano sophomore Karen Oparaeke said. "I'm looking forward to seeing old friends from other schools."

Osumsan said that in the past, ASA has only had events Fridays and Saturdays, but this year the group chose to have a full culture week.

The Thursday event was a traditional dress day, where members of ASA wore outfits from their home countries.

"There's so many Africans on campus, whether or not they're international," Imoh said.

She said one of the purposes of ASA is to help students who were born in Africa or who were born in the United States and have African parents.

"It helps everyone remember their culture and roots," Oparaeke said. "It's a chance to get together with other people that are like you."

One portion Imoh said she is looking forward to is the banquet performance by Bassey Ikpi, who is a spoken-word artist who has opened for artists such as India Arie, Les Nubians and Luther Vandross.

Imoh said Ikpi is a well-known, talented artist.

The overall winner of the competitions will be announced at the banquet. While not all 18 visiting schools will participate in the challenges, Texas Tech University, The University of Texas and Texas State University are among the universities expected to compete.

"It's playful," Imoh said about the rivalry between the schools.

The first four years Baylor sponsored the extravaganza, the Baylor ASA chapter won the competition. The following year it placed second.

ASA president and Lagos, Nigeria, senior Simisola Osumsan said last year the Baylor ASA chapter didn't compete because other schools were upset they always did well. However, Baylor is back in the running.

"This year, we're just going to compete and have fun," Osumsan said.

Imoh said Baylor's ASA dance performance will be a West African dance style called Makossa and will include some heel-toe dance.

"Come see a whole different culture," Imoh said.

Simisola, who organized the cultural event, said she is excited to see the results of her labor.

"It's not every day you're able to express to a whole campus what you're about and your background," Oparaeke said.