Taste of Africa serves up diversity

With a menu ranging from Southern soul food, Caribbean cuisine, to traditional African cooking, as well as culture- and region-specific desserts and beverages, the upcoming Taste of Africa gala will showcase the diversity of African-American culture and cuisine.

The gala, which takes place in the banquet rooms of the Oakland Center, will take place on Friday Feb.12 from 4 pm to 7 pm.

Hosted by the Center for Multicultural Initiatives, the gala is sponsored by the Student Program Board, Public School Academies, University Housing, Government Relations, and the University Student Congress.

The celebration is the signature event of National African American Celebration Month, as well as an opportunity for all of OU’s campus to experience and recognize the significance of African-American culture in America and abroad.

      “The gala is important for many reasons, but perhaps the most central reason is to showcase the diversity of OU,” said Omar Brown-El, director of the CMI. “We live and interact in a diverse community and campus, and the gala helps highlight that diversity.”

In its seventh year of existence, the culinary celebration has continued to see increased attendance, with between 700 and 800 anticipated guests at this year’s event.

“We hope that everyone who attends the gala will gain a greater appreciation for African-American culture and cuisine,” Brown-El said. “This event is a chance to both raise awareness for and to celebrate the African-American culture within our community as well as nation-wide.”

In addition to the culinary offerings, a full evening of entertainment is planned.

There will be poetry readings by OU graduate Jessica Reese, performances by the OU steel drum band, traditional African dancing, tap dancing, and a routine by Xpressiv B.T.Z., an Oakland dance organization made up of students.

There will also be educational presentations by OU history special lecturer Keith Dye and assistant professor of history Getnet Bekele. The presentations will outline the slave trade, as well as political, social and historical issues relating to modern day Africa.

The Taste of Africa gala is free and open to the public.