Oakland gets a ‘taste of Africa’


The OU African Ensemble played an assortment of songs for the audience in traditional rhythmical beats.

A 12-year tradition brought music, food and culture to the Oakland Center  Feb. 12 in honor of African American Celebration Month.

The Taste of Africa event drew students and the surrounding community to learn about and celebrate their cultures. OU psychology student Mya Tompkins gave a spoken word performance.

“To reflect upon the horrible things of our past is not what I’ve come here for,” Tompkins said. “I stand here to remind us of the beauty inside us.”

Attendees participated in crafting outside of the banquet rooms, as they colored pictures and made necklaces, all hosted by the Golden Key National Honor Society.

Along with crafting, the event’s main attraction was music. The OU African Ensemble played an assortment of songs for the audience in traditional rhythmical beats.

“The connection between African language and music was really interesting,” African Ensemble member Austin Pickwick said. “The shift of beats in western music is really different than the African pieces we play. It’s like a wall of interlocking rhythms.”

Though the Taste of Africa event and other related events are small in size, they offer a diversified outlook from international students. These events help to exchange ideas and cultures between different groups of people, according to Pickwick.

The music and activities brought OU alumni back to campus as hosts and vendors.

In her time as a student, OU alumna Yolanda Williams attended each year’s Taste of Africa event, and this year she came back and brought her family to take part in the events.

“It’s good to see the culture at OU events,” Williams said. “It’s a good opportunity to see people from the community, to interact with other alumni and it’s really good networking for current students and alumni alike.”

Students can attend the “Surveillance in Post-War American Literary Expatriate Paris,” hosted in Banquet Room B from 12-1:30 p.m. Feb. 13, put on by SurPrise. Students may also attend the closing ceremony in Gold Rooms B and C from 12-1 p.m. Feb. 19.