EESA hosts a wedding themed ‘Ethiopian Night’  

The Ethiopian Eritrean Student Association (EESA) hosted its annual Ethiopian Night Saturday.   

The theme was “Ethiopian wedding.” Rekik Amsalu, the EESA secretary, said in years past there was no theme for Ethiopian Night. 

“We wanted to do something different so that our members could expect more from us and be excited for our next events,” she said.  

With over 200 people in attendance, guests included Ethiopian alumni, students from neighboring universities, university students from other states and members of the MSU community.    

Among the several non-Ethiopians in attendance were individuals from the Ivory Coast, Nigeria and India. To some, the event hit close to home.  

“It felt like home, you know?” said Faisa Yusuf, a student from Somalia. “Even though it’s not my culture, seeing my friends be happy, dance and express their culture, again, it’s just another taste of home.” 

The performers took the non-native guests to a new land and displayed their cultural heritage.  

“I attended this event because I would like to discover Ethiopian culture,” said Mary Emmanuel, a student from Ivory Coast, West Africa. “It is not similar to my country, but it has allowed me to discover how weddings happen in East Africa.”  

As for those of Ethiopian descent, it was a nostalgic trip to the festivities of their motherland. They used what is available in their cultural and individual survival kits to commemorate their heritage. 

“We still have to make sure that we follow those traditions and cultures because that’s how our families got us to this position,” said Eyob Gezahegne, the community outreach coordinator. “It’s important we transfer that from generation to generation.”  

The EESA board chose the wedding theme of the Ethiopian night, recognizing the beacon-like capacity of a wedding to bring friends and family members together from near and far.  

Despite it being a staged wedding, the event was nonetheless exemplary of the time and energy expenditures a traditional Ethiopian wedding entails. The outreach coordinator acknowledged that the success of the event was credited to the devoted student volunteers and the collective effort of the board members.  

The event kicked off with an informative presentation on the demographic and cultural makeup of Ethiopia. The presenter, Gezahegne, went over the languages and ethnicities. He mentioned that Ethiopia is “the cradle of mankind” and touched on the rich history of the land, including its resistance to colonialism. 

He also discussed some of the country’s major religious practices, musical instruments, dances, traditional cuisine and the Buna (coffee) ceremony, that takes place in tandem with their meals.    

A part of the typical Ethiopian wedding ceremony, the Shimgilina, was acted out and directed by student volunteers and displayed on large screens that run across the CSU ballroom. The ceremony, which usually takes place before the wedding day, involves the future groom sending senior members of his family to the bride’s house to ask for her hand in marriage. The elders expound on the groom’s background, familial upbringing and virtues, seeking to convince the bride’s parents that he can take care of their daughter.   

Following the on-screen film was a live theatrical performance of another ritual in an Ethiopian wedding ceremony, which was conveniently titled ‘Sergegna anasgebam,’ which translates to “we won’t let the groom in.” 

The title accurately captures the friendly altercation between the groom and his soon-to-be in-laws. It involves the bride’s family forming a human barrier in front of her and resisting the groom’s entry into their home. It resembles a scene in American football where linebackers and defensive backs use the zone coverage scheme to protect against a pass.   

However, the next theatrical scene cut to the reception, where the grand entrance of the bride and groom seemed to have been a crowd favorite. Adeal Getachew, one of the performers who had posed as a bridesmaid, said watching the bride and groom walk down the aisle was the best part of the whole wedding. 

As is customary in most weddings, the groomsmen and bridesmaids danced their way down the aisle, ushering in the bride and groom. Then the wedded pair, draped in capes adorned with elaborately woven silver embroidery, made their descent.  

The audience was also taken on a tour of Ethiopian folk-dances around all corners of the country. Performed in various forms were the virtuoso “shoulder-dances,” or eskista as they are locally called. 

The different dances, possibly appearing at first glance as indistinguishable, follow instinctive rules in direction, rhythm, and style. The performers took the audience on a journey to witness these folk dances, making stops at Amhara, Tigray, Harar, Somalia, Afar and Oromo regional zones. Dancers showcased wild hip movements, head whirls, and mesmerizing circular twirls as attributed to the different zones.   

After the entertainment portion, guests were invited to enjoy a traditional feast, consisting of Ethiopia’s staple sourdough flatbread, Injera, and complimentary stews and vegetables. The event concluded with a cake-cutting ceremony.  

Header photo: The Ethiopian Eritrean Student Association (EESA) hosted its annual Ethiopian Night Saturday. The theme for the night was “Ethiopian wedding,” which was the first time in years they had a theme for the night.  (Nate Tilahun/The Reporter)

Write to Ephrata Bezuayene  at

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