Dancing to Change the Misrepresentation of Africa

Published by: Oluwatosin Adedayo

KENNESAW, Ga. – “We dance to make people realize that Africa is more than what is shown on television,” said Ijeoma Emefo, team captain of the Afrisa dance team. Kennesaw State University Afrisa dancers are part of the organization, African Students Association. The African Student Association organization was made to educate others about the countries and culture of the second largest content, Africa.

The dancers have performed in various of events to show the audience that their country is a lot more than what is represented and shown on television. They are able to embrace their culture through dancing. Ijeoma Emefo, Adeaze Okwu, Nickelle Lionge, and Adeyinka Adeogun are all part of the Afrisa dance team. These dancers come from all over the continent to create different routines to represent their culture through dancing

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Emefo’s parents was born in Nigeria and is part of the Igbo tribe. She said even though she was born in America, that she still believes that she has the right to represent where her parents came from. “I dislike when people tell me I’m not a real African,” she said. “How can one determine what it means to be a real African.” Emefo has performed on majorette teams and has used a combination of ballet and majorette dancing into African dancing. “Adding other dance genres to African dancing keeps the audience entertained and engaged,” she said.

Dancer Adeaze Okwu has been part of Afrisa for 2 1/2 years. Okwu is currently a junior and plans on staying on the dance team until her senior year.  Just like Emefo, Okwu parents are also Igbo natives. “I enjoy dancing so much.” Okwu said. “Its not just the dancing, I’m tired of people making fun of Africans like we are not human. I am more than what TV shows make me and I am more than living in a hut, I’m a dancer.”  She said she wants their dancing to mean more than just a dance. She also said that she is more interested in performing for events that are not related to Africa that way their dances can be more meaningful to the event.

Throughout the years the team has added new members to the team. Nickelle Lionge said she wanted to focus on school but wanted to join an organization that had great meaning behind it. Her parents are from Cameroon and she said she wanted to do something that will encourage her tribe. She decided to tryout for the Afrisa dance team.

“Everyone was incredibly sweet and welcoming,” she said. “I noticed that even after joining the organization and dance team all they wanted to accomplish was the perception others had on Africans. That was something I dealt with my whole life. “

Adeyinka Adeogun was also born in Nigeria into the Yoruba tribe. She is a re-occurring member of the team. Adeogun said she is not always able to dance for every event because school comes first, but she is very proud to call herself an Afrisa.

Adeogun has performed with current and old members and has been apart of the team since 2011. She said she enjoys the momentum of the crowd and being able to dance at not just African events but at all events is what makes her happy. “When I dance, I can tell that the crowd sees a lot more than just dancing,” she said. “They can see Africa and our culture through our dancing.”

The team performed at the Kennesaw State University KAB fashion show where they placed first place among other performers. The team recently participated at the annual University of West Georgia Dance Competition where they also placed first place among five other schools. The team said they are prepared for next event coming up March 20, 2016 at the YMCA.

The team name, Afrisa, was developed by former team members in 2014. Afrisa came from the word “Africa” and the “s” in Afrisa represents “sexy.” The team summed up their meaning of dancing with Afrisa in one sentence.

“We are more than what they show, we are dancers, we are African, we are Afrisa.” (702)

 

 

 

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