“The New Era”: a Liberian Culture Night

Performers dance on the Atwood Ballroom stage Saturday at Liberia Night. Photo By Alec Kasper
Performers dance on the Atwood Ballroom stage Saturday at Liberia Night. Photo By Alec Kasper

“With our hearts united, we’ll shout the freedom of a race benighted. Long Live Liberia, happy land!”

The lyrics of the Liberian National Anthem ran throughout the Atwood ballroom Saturday night as the lights dimmed on a stage of dancers and performers. SCSU played host to Liberian Night, a culture night recognizing students from Liberia. The night included dancing, singing, and authentic Liberian food. The culture night was set up by the Liberian Student Association and welcomed everyone wishing to learn more about the country’s culture and history. The LSA partnered with the African Student Association, the Nigerian Student Association, and the Council of African American Students to make the night all-inclusive.

The audience got to witness a flurry of colors and fashion as performers took the stage to show off their talent in a mixture of old and modern Liberian music and dance. Everything from rap to traditional dance was performed. This mixture of the old and the new represents the struggle of students who see a dramatic change happening in their homeland. The slogan of the night was “The New Era”, symbolizing the desire to ring in a new time that includes the recognition of the past and the celebration of the future. The students showed their pride for the “new era” by cheering and applauding their friends as they strutted out on the catwalk during the fashion show. Colorful sashes, traditional shoes, and modern dresses were shown. Students were able to design their own outfits, just as they were able to decide on their own dance.

Elvina Amouzou, a dancer in the event, chose to do a modern-style of dance for her performance. Having practiced only a week in advance, she was nervous as she took the stage. However, that fear soon melted as people began clapping and cheering her on to a hip-swaying fast-paced rhythm.

“I was a bit nervous,” she said. “But I just love to dance so much. It was a lot of fun, and we had a lot of people come out.”

The audience was made up of SCSU students and members of the different associations. They took part in the event by getting to their feet and dancing along with the performers, supporting their friends as they showed off their skills.

Oluwatobi Oluwagbemi, a Junior at SCSU, is a regular at these culture events. Having gone to Africa Night and Ebony Night the past two years, was excited to be a part of another culture night here on campus. Oluwagbemi is used to experiencing the dances and songs of a different culture, but she never gets tired of the fun and excitement each night brings.

“It’s so much fun,” she said. “The night is so full of life and beauty. I just love how people come to these things, and are interested in the diversity.”

Many students like Oluwagbemi come to these events to experience a new culture. SCSU is home to over 1,200 international students, representing over 20 different countries. Vice President for Academic Affairs Matthew Andrew spoke at the event, welcoming students who are willing to take part in an event that celebrates culture, music, art, and dance. While the event was geared towards the country of Liberia, many students from the West African region saw their culture recognized by the performers.

The culture of the “New Era” is one of recognition and support. SCSU has many associations, including the Liberian Student Association, that recognize the different cultures of Africa. These associations show their support for a unified future by educating students with different styles of song and dance.

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