Thousands of miles from her home country of Liberia, senior Simenah Menso directed backstage preparation Saturday for the sixth Annual African Night in the Lory Student Centerâ€™s Main Ballroom.
Taking a quick break from her roll of director, Menso, a psychology major and former president of African United, took to the stage to demonstrate a traditional Liberian dance.
â€œWhen I go out there to dance, I just release (my stress). I donâ€™t care about anything else; I just dance and dance and dance,â€ Menso said.
For the first year in its history the AU, the student organization that coordinated the event, was forced to charge an entrance fee for the festival, which features African dance, food and music. The Student Fee Review Board was unable to assist the AU due to an early drainage of event money.
By cutting back on expenses and charging for tickets, the AU was able to raise the $2,000 needed to put on the event. Despite the cutbacks, almost 300 people attended the show, many from African communities in Denver and Aurora.
Menso said that African Night means a lot more to her than just food, dancing and fashion; it means a chance to connect back to her cultural roots.
â€œWe really want to show people our culture; we want to share with them because there is so much negativity surrounding Africa,â€ she said. There is so little time to celebrate where youâ€™re from, to celebrate your culture.â€
Tawa Moriu, a 46-year-old former Liberian citizen who was visiting from Denver, said that her and her family enjoyed the show.
â€œItâ€™s fun to see African people dancing â€” our African culture. We feel like weâ€™re home,â€ Moriu said.
The first part of the evening was a dinner consisting of traditional African food prepared by members of AU. The food was of select dishes from different regions and countries of Africa such as Nigeria, Uganda and Ethiopia.
Dinner was followed by colorful fashion shows and dancing, which were also representative of different regions of Africa.