Today the African American Community will celebrate the 25th anniversary of African Cultural Night (ACN), a celebration of the unity, culture, and success of Africans on all continents.
“It’s the biggest African event of Portland,” said Candace Staples, a co-coordinator of the event. The reason she, co-coordinator Ali Mohamoud, and AAS member Shukri Anshur all said that the event’s appeal is that it is for all members of the community.
It’s a “family-friendly kind of event,” Anshur said.
In addition, Staples pointed out that, unlike other African events, it’s not for those Africans from a specific country; instead, “We’re representing Africans on all the continents. That’s what makes it different.”
Last year the event drew hundreds of community members, so many that some had to be turned away. This year’s event is expected to be an even bigger draw because of the anniversary celebration as well as the added features. With student ID, the price for admission is $7 and $10 for the general public. ACN is expected to sell out, so in the words of organizer Mohamoud, “Come to the event.” But you better come early.
Staples, vice president of the event’s sponsor, the Association of African Students (AAS), and said the theme of the night will be “Africans United,” and the goals include furthering positives images of Africa and Africans and “celebrating our achievements,” but also building awareness of how problems, wars, and other issues on the continent tend to be ignored by the rest of the world.
This year’s event will have all of the staples from previous years such as, live dance performances, a fashion show and a variety of great food from local businesses, but there will be several additions as well, like the announcement of the winner of the title of Miss African Culture Night.
The candidates for Miss ACN are outstanding PSU students who possess qualities such as character and pride in the community. The winner will receive, in addition to the standard pageant accoutrements, a $200 dollar gift certificate to Portland State University Bookstore. The organizers had initially planned on having a Mr. ACN as well but had to drop the title due to lack of interest.
ACN is not just about the fun stuff-music, food, and culture- it’s also about community, unity, and society. A keynote given by PSU’s own Dr. Darrell Millner, professor of Black Studies, will focus on Pan-Africanism and other issues concerning the world’s African population post-diaspora.
The event will begin with dinner at 6 p.m. in Parkway North in the Smith Memorial Student Union. The dinner will be provided from local restaurants, and the food will be African-American, Somalian, and Ethiopian.
“This is our chance to support business in our community,” Staples said.
After dinner the festivities will move to Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom, where a libation will take place before the other events.
“No important event begins on the continent [Africa] without drumming,” Staples said. The libation will also be a salute to the community’s ancestors. This will be followed by African dancers from the world over, including North Africa, Fiji, Brazil, Guinea, Nigeria, and the Caribbean, the fashion show, Dr. Millner’s keynote, the announcement of the Miss ACN winner, and two hip-hop groups. Art and cultural artifacts will also be displayed.