The African Student Organization (ASO) is putting a twist on the regency era of British history — with West African traditions and culture.
Afahye: Regency Redefined is the ASO’s newest banquet for the spring semester, scheduled for this Friday in the Mandela Room. The event is largely inspired by the television show “Bridgerton,” a show taking place in the Regency era. The era officially spanned from 1811 to 1820, when Shakespeare was in huge popularity along with famous figures Jane Austen, Lord Byron and poet John Keats.
The banquet will host a varied cast of characters, including a duke, duchess and queen. The duke will be looking for a duchess and by the end, will pick one of the guests as their partner. The queen comes in during a grand entrance and sits on her throne watching over everyone. At the end of the event, people come up to the queen to present their best walk, and whoever is considered the top pick is named the diamond of the season. Another character will be the mysterious Lady Whistledown, an anonymous gossip who comments on peoples’ interactions throughout the night.
The guests get to experience this mystery, romance and royalty all wrapped in one by sitting at assigned tables. Each table has a family name, and student organizations can buy entire tables and put their names on the table cards. For guests who don’t buy tickets for a whole table, they will be sat at tables with family name cards of traditional West African surnames such as Hamza and Boateng. When guests come in, the Mandela Room will be adorned with floral decorations featuring regal colors like baby pink, lavender, white and gold. Along with flowers, there will be podiums and backdrops for picture taking.
Afahye’s main highlight is the dancing, where ball dancing, tangos and waltzes will be performed but to classical African music instead of classical music of British origin. Uyai Nnua, a West African dance ensemble that preserves traditional and modern African dance heritage, will be performing some of these dances.
Awa Traore, educational coordinator of ASO and a junior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, has spent many long nights with the E-Board and interns practicing with dancers and perfecting every aspect of the event. Traore is excited for guests to enjoy themselves and learn something new at the same time.
“For people who don’t [know] much about West African culture [they] can come in and learn, and if they have any stigmas or stereotypes about West African culture, they can come in and get rid of those ideas and learn something new,” Traore said.
Along with planning Afahye, the club has also emphasized spreading awareness about worldwide issues such as Nigeria’s flood crisis, which has killed hundreds of people and affected more than half a million people. Nigerians are also victims of food insecurity, and in the Northeast Nigerians have been displaced from their towns and villages due to conflict in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. The ASO has a link [HYPERLINK: https://crisisrelief.un.org/nigeria-crisis] on their Instagram [HYPERLINK: https://www.instagram.com/bingaso/ ] where donations can be made to the Nigerian Humanitarian Fund (NHF) to help get food, shelter and health services to the country’s people who need it most.
Afahye: Regency Redefined is completely sold out, something that is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the ASO’s executive board, according to Traore.
“I am very proud to be a part of an organization like this,” Traore said. “We work very hard to accomplish the things we like to see on this campus. We also work very hard to express the West African culture to the rest of the Binghamton community — and yeah I really do appreciate the ASO family.”