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The Pitt News

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Pitt baseball players stand in the dugout during a game against Virginia Tech on March 24 at the Petersen Sports Complex.
Pitt baseball shows promise in weekend series in Texas
By Dylan Grace, Staff Writer • 12:32 am

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Pitt baseball players stand in the dugout during a game against Virginia Tech on March 24 at the Petersen Sports Complex.
Pitt baseball shows promise in weekend series in Texas
By Dylan Grace, Staff Writer • 12:32 am

African Students Organization stages a continent-spanning wedding celebration

Participants+model+African+wedding+traditions+at+an+event+hosted+by+Pitt%E2%80%99s+African+Student+Organization+in+the+William+Pitt+Union.+
Kelechi Anucha | Staff Photographer
Participants model African wedding traditions at an event hosted by Pitt’s African Student Organization in the William Pitt Union.

Pitt’s African Students Organization transformed the ballroom of the William Pitt Union into a wedding venue on Feb. 3, celebrating different African nations’ traditions in a mock wedding celebration.

Rather than an actual wedding ceremony, the event was a culturally inclusive party that fused the customs of different African cultures’ traditional weddings into one celebration. Members of ASO donned wedding garb and took on the roles of the bride and groom while attendees danced and celebrated the betrothed couples. The guests, bridal party, groomsmen, performers and wedding planners all dressed in traditional African attires from various countries. 

Chiamaka Okpara, a junior information science major and vice president of ASO, helped create the event. Okpara said African wedding celebrations at high schools and universities in different states inspired the organization to bring the same cultural celebration to Pittsburgh. 

“The African wedding event is a really popular thing that was happening in Texas schools — everyone last year wanted to bring that here,” Okpara said. “This wedding is a partnership with Duquesne, CMU and some individuals from Carlow. The African wedding is basically a night of celebration with African food, music, culture and people dressed in traditional outfits.” 

While encompassing all the cultures of Africa in one event would be impossible, the African wedding celebration desired to include as many traditions as possible. Okpara said ASO included a variety of customs, mostly centered on West Africa.

“There’s going to be Nigerian, Ghanaian, Congolese and Senegalese themes in this wedding,” Okpara said. “The wedding is a mesh of different African cultures but the majority Nigerian because the majority of Africans here [at Pitt] are of Nigerian or West African descent.” 

Dancers perform at an event celebrating African wedding traditions in the William Pitt Union. (Kelechi Anucha | Staff Photographer)

Darryl Ansah, a sophomore chemical engineering major and public relations chair of ASO, said hosting the wedding on campus is an opportunity to introduce African cultures to those who don’t have access to it. 

“African weddings are very massive parties, and we wanted to show that especially to people who don’t have access to that type of event,” Ansah said. “In terms of the wedding aspect, it’s modeled after a traditional wedding … I’m one of the groomsmen for the event and we practiced an introductory dance to perform.” 

Ansah said elements like dance performances and other traditions can make traditional African weddings an hours-long affair. He said his favorite segment of African weddings is the introduction of the bride and groom. 

“Usually African weddings have a lot of music, dancing, nice attire and they’re a little long,” Ansah said. “The music includes Afrobeat and Afropop, and we also have slower songs for the bridal entrance. I like it when the groom or bride come out and are first introduced because they always have a coordinated dance with their bridal party.” 

Chinyere Okonkwo, a senior political science and sociology major and member of the Ya’baso dance team, performed four dance routines at the wedding. Okonkwo said she enjoyed witnessing the diversity of dances represented in the ceremony. 

“I’ve been wanting to do this for so long and I’m so excited for it,” Okonkwo said. “The wedding process across all of Africa is very different for each country and each tribe — I only know the wedding culture of my people, so I’m excited to see the different cultures of the people getting married.” 

Attendees at Pitt’s African Student Organization’s celebration of African wedding traditions in the William Pitt Union. (Kelechi Anucha | Staff Photographer)

Okonkwo said being a part of the Ya’baso dance team means she dedicated her time to practicing dances from different African cultures and preparing to present them at university events. She added that every culture has different elements to its traditional dance routines, and she’s best versed in the dances of her Nigerian heritage. 

“We’re a team, and we seek the culture, diversity and awesomeness of the African continent in all of its complex diversity. We do different dances across the diaspora, and we try to perfect them and perform them at different university events,” Okonkwo said. “My family is Nigerian and I’m Igbo — normally the dances we do are very different, a lot of the movement has to do with the waist, the butt, leaning over and lots of energetic and jovial movement — dance is supposed to showcase your emotions, whether that’s happy or sad.“

The intention behind the African wedding event is to lay the groundwork for an annual celebration organized by ASO. Okpara said she felt proud of the group’s efforts in planning the event and bringing it to life, and she hopes it becomes an annual celebration. 

“This is the first year that the wedding is being hosted, and we want it to continue further because it’s a really important event,” Okpara said. “I feel a lot of pride in myself and the people I worked with that we’re making it happen and building this legacy.”

About the Contributor
Nada Abdulaziz, Senior Staff Writer
Nada Abdulaziz is a senior majoring in Philosophy and Biological Sciences. She loves spending her free time reading, hiking, and watching Studio Ghibli films.