An artistic outlet and arch of African culture on campus, Afrique Fusion aims to transform Penn State through traditional dance.
Afrique Fusion, a branch of the African Students Association, takes dance influences from all over Africa and infuses them within their choreography.
However, for Oyinkansola Akanbi, the customs are more than dances – these are “a way for people to feel represented in one way or another”.
“I would describe a platform in our organization that basically shows and shows how many countries in Africa it is possible,” Akanbi (senior-nursing) said. “We want the students to feel that people from these countries in Africa are represented in some way through the dances.”
Akanbi, a team captain, helped create a Nigerian dance club in high school before coming to Penn State.
At Akanbi, worship is shown through dance. However, he said Penn State did not initially want to have it this way, since Afrique Fusion was not an active group when it first arrived at University Park.
“We also had to bring Afrique together in our freshman year with the help of the former president,” said Akanbi.
Akanbi and co-captain Marieme Dia then took over the leadership duties and shaped Afrique Fusion into what it is today.
Dia (senior-economics and global and international studies) said his time as one of the leaders of Afrique Fusion changed his mind about what he can do. Recalled for a moment, she said she understood that Afrique Fusion “was done.”
“During the last semester the exercises were not competitive and it was not too difficult to come up” [choreography]. All the teammates were involved in doing the choreography, and they all came together to include the items,” Dia said. “At that moment I realized that the team was going to do this because they were all enjoying themselves.”
With the renaissance of Afrique Fusion, Dia said that he has plans to move the dance team, especially when “Afro beats become a lot more mainstream.”
“I feel that this is a great opportunity to open the door and showcase that we are more than Afro beats,” Dia said. “I’ve been a cooperator for about three years now, and it’s important to me because this is how I express myself.”
Dia said it was “a lot” for him to share culture with “other like-minded African people” through his involvement with Afrique Fusion.
More lifestyle content
With many members of its current staff, the Collegian Daily has been full of experience.
These objectives were also shared with Christina Fomunyoh, who is the responsible partner and public relations of Afrique Fusion.
Fomunyoh (senior-international politics and global and international studies) organization is a tool of cultural expression and a space “where everyone can connect and really feel”.
He said that when he leaves the team, he hopes that Afrique will be able to “become better known throughout the field.”
“We are just like any other team that is known, but when there are fewer people within a group, there are fewer people in a . [predominately white institution]”There is a lot of ignorance when it comes to other cultures,” Fomunyoh said.
Fomunyoh said having a team like Afrique Fusion exposes students to other cultures, allowing students to “understand and learn from it, love and embrace it.”
“When you learn from other cultures and people, you can improve your life because of the different things you’ve learned in the real world,” Fomunyoh said. “I think this team is very important because it allows people to understand cultures that they might not be aware of and also eliminates all the ignorance that can exist in human studies.”
Growing Afrique needs to be where it is now is not always something easy, according to Akanbi. But she said she would do it again, even though she didn’t walk in the park.
“I’m glad we’re here now and we’ve left a legacy for the people who came,” he said.
Dia talked about the learning process behind being a leader and how building Afrique Fusion has changed over the years.
“It’s been a great learning experience, and I’ve been so blessed to grow our Afrique Fusion,” said Dia. “When people are excited to join the team, people are excited to perform for us, knowing our name, even just being invited to a lot of different events, to the point where sometimes there is nothing to say – we get to that level where we are recognizable, and they enjoy watching us. He honestly It’s been one of the greatest blessings ever, just to see my work being rewarded.”
For all Afrique Fusion team members, dancing is more than a hobby – it’s a way of life.
Through their cultural experience, the members find happiness in showing people who never receive a bow before the porch: in front of those who cannot do what they do now.
“I’ve always been proud, just happy to show my culture. I know it is beautiful to see,” Akanbi said. “We’re going to PWI, there aren’t many of us anymore, so we want to let prospective and current students know that we’re here in these minority communities, a spark.”
Akanbi students said they don’t want to feel alone, but they want to feel like someone accepts them, who is like them, and they want to connect.
“This is one of the reasons why we are here to bring” [the] community together and to present our culture to others and what it is like to be African”.