Entertainment, food, and presentations all impress
On Saturday, March 26, the Ethiopian Student Association hosted the first ever Ethiopia Night, which took place in the CSU Ballroom from 5:30 until 8:30 pm.
The event began with guests being treated to a traditional Ethiopian meal, which included Gomen (a vegetable stew), Doro Wot (chicken stew), and Enjera (a unique form of flatbread). This delicious culinary experience lasted until 7 p.m., which marked the beginning of the entertainment for the night. The evening included a range of performances from different parts of Ethiopia, including the Oromia and the Afar regions, and portrayed a range of cultural dances, which included the traditional wedding dance and the beautiful Ashenda dance.
The evening also incorporated a series of presentations about Ethiopia, which sought to depict it as ‘more than just some poor country’ by delving into its rich cultural roots. These presentations included many little known facts about Ethiopia, such as it being the only African nation with its own alphabet, the fact that Ethiopians practiced Christianity long before Europe, and even the fact that the origin of coffee can be traced back to Ethiopia.
These presentations reflected the overall theme of the evening: “Uncovering our Roots.” This aptly-chosen theme reflected the two fundamental desires the society had when creating this evening: to connect Ethiopian students with their roots; and to inform non-Ethiopian students about the unique culture of this country, whilst also clearing up many common misconceptions.
One presentation also highlighted the fact that despite foreign-born immigrants making up approximately 7 percent of the population of Minnesota, with Minnesota currently being home to approximately 33,000 persons of Ethiopian descent, this diversity is not represented at the professional level. The importance of events connecting Ethiopian students, such as MSU Ethiopia Night, allows for students to develop strong networks, which is essential to ensuring that students will thrive once they enter the workforce.
Aside from this, other highlights of the evening included a spoken-word performance about the struggles Ethiopian students face as they seek to be accepted in a country that does not understand their culture, and a fashion show which showcased traditional dress from each of the Ethiopian regions.
In reflecting upon the night, vice president Saron Tesfae admitted to having “some anxiety leading into the event” but overall said that she “absolutely loved it,” and “thought the night went really well.”
This view was shared by guests of the event, with domestic students Lamar Gaye and Ernest Norris having nothing but praise for the first Ethiopian night. Gaye commented that he enjoyed “the clothes, the dancing, and learning about the culture,” while Norris stated that the “best part was the dancing from the variety of different regions, and how every region has its own unique style.”
The event was also well-received by Ethiopian students, with Kenyan student Nati Irenius, who comes from a half-Ethiopian background, stating that he enjoyed how the event used “original Ethiopian food and dancing, which was not westernized in any way.”
The efforts of the Ethiopian Student Association, in particular the seven board members responsible for putting together this fantastic evening, can in no way be overlooked and overall, the success of the first Ethiopian Night was undeniable. MSU can only hope that this evening marked the first in a series of many more to come.
Photo: From left to right, Tomi, Mitchelo Adjidjonu, Feven Abraha, Alimatou Bah, Mariama Jallow, Kaltumo Ibrahim, and Thelma Adjidjonu. (Photo by Horeja Jeng)