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UMKC’s Fake African Wedding Celebrates Identity in a Cultural Extravaganza

Hundreds of dollar bills rained upon the dancefloor of the Student Union commemorating African culture and an appreciation for heritage.
Brenna Oxley
Students dance at the Fake African Wedding event.

  College students from all across Missouri, Kansas and Illinois, united in UMKC’s Student Union to celebrate African wedding traditions with the African Student Association (ASA). 

  ASA planned and held a fake African wedding on Friday, March 8, with dancing, music and mountains of food. 

  Their second annual pseudo-wedding hosted students from various backgrounds to join together in the grand affair. Students represented countries from every section of Africa, and even non-Africans participated in the festivities.

  ASA President Maryam Oyebamiji said she enjoys how such large-scale events bring people together and allow them an opportunity to showcase their traditions.

  “It’s the hype–the dancing, the performances, the extravagance of it all,” she emphasized. “It’s like a big party.”

  Oyebamiji stressed the importance of embracing and displaying cultures to avoid people losing crucial parts of their identities, especially after families immigrate to the United States. 

Most attendees were dressed in extravagant attire, vibrant in color and design and adorned in traditional detailing. Friendship and union were a centerpiece in the affair, as girls were helping each other fix their outfits, taking selfies together and giving out plenty of hugs. 

  “It’s all new to me, so I’m very excited,” said sophomore Grace Kertz, who attended the event to experience the culture of her East African roommate. “I am really excited for the dancing. My roommate is going to teach me her moves.” 

  ASA invited two hosts for the event: Dr. Roland Hemmings Jr., the assistant director of multicultural student affairs at UMKC, and Toluwanimi Olatunde-Salawu, a UMKC alumni with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Both individuals brought extraordinary energy to the festivities that sparked laughter and mass conversations about African culture. 

  Afrofuse, UMKC’s award-winning afro dance group, began the night’s festivities with a dance initiating the bride and groom’s appearance. The couple joined the group on the dance floor, and Afrofuse members threw fake dollar bills into the air. Throwing money on newlyweds is an African wedding tradition, showering the bride and groom with money symbolizes good fortune and happiness.

  After the pair perched at a podium at the front of the room, the room ignited with excitement for dinner to begin. Students waited in the food line that wrapped around the top floor of the Union and chattered avidly about the festivities to come. 

  Chinecherem Ihenacho and Wura Awopetu, both sophomore biology majors, exclaimed their excitement for the jollof rice. Similarly, Oyebamiji also agreed that this West African rice dish was the most anticipated among the attendees. The ASA executive board prepared most of the traditional African foods for the event, alongside cookies and cupcakes. 

  While people ate, more celebration ignited the room. One of the most exciting dances of the night was the Igbo masquerade, a colorful and powerful medium of Nigerian culture. It featured elaborate costumes, masks and flute playing. Afrofuse lit up the dance floor again at the night’s end with the attendees gathering around to spread the hype.

  The Fake African Wedding embraced culturally rich elements of celebration and community. ASA’s goal for the event’s future is to spread regionally so that students from every ethnic background can look forward to each year. 

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    MarckleApr 4, 2024 at 11:38 pm

    Nice stuff Lilah!