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Performers share African cultures at Sankofa Pan African Culture Show Feb. 9

Black History Month event fills Plachta Auditorium


Students dance during the third annual Sankofa Pan-African show held by the African Student Association Feb. 9 in the Central Michigan University Plachta Auditorium.

An exuberant crowd celebrated African cultures through dance, poetry and fashion at the third annual Sankofa Pan-African Culture Show Feb. 9 in the Central Michigan University Plachta Auditorium.

The crowd cheered on performers with applause, yells and standing with arms in the air at various points throughout the show.

“What this show is not missing is the heat,” said emcee Candy Boakyewaa, a CMU graduate. “Period.”

For the African Student Association, the RSO that sponsored the event, the show is especially important in 2019: this year is the 400th anniversary of the year the first slave ships left Africa.

To purchase items from vendors featured in the exhibition after the show, visit the following pages:

  • Nubian Jewelry: on Instagram or email
  • Tolulope Folashade Nathan (fashion designer): follow @tfndesigns on Instagram, email, or visit
  • Make Your Markk (apparel and art): follow @make_your_markk on Instagram or visit

The word “sankofa” means “to go back and reclaim,” Boakyewaa said.

“(This event is) going back to reclaim the Africa that we know,” Boakyewaa said. “This is the year of return.”

Senior Danielle Horton and junior Tre’Von Rucker shared pride in their poetry performance centered around the ideas of “black joy” and speaking out.

“My grandpa exposed me to a possible world in which I was on top,” Horton said in the poem. “He told me knowledge was power, told me I was powerful.”

“He told me never hold my tongue,” she continued. “He told me to speak.”

“Four hundred years is not just a phase we grow out of,” Horton said. 

“This ship is still with us, but that’s why we chose to speak,” Horton and Rucker said together. “Speak because our black joy depends on it.”

Students dance during the third annual Sankofa Pan African show held by the African Student Association on Feb. 9 in Plachta Auditorium.

The poetry was Saginaw senior Kayla Brown’s favorite part of the night.

“Every time (Horton) gets on stage, she captures you,” Brown said. “Captures your heart. You can't not be impacted by it.”

Michigan State University junior Leon Ira came to the event after hearing about it from his friends at MSU’s African Students Union.

“I liked the spirit (of the event),” Ira said. “It was worth (the drive).” 

Event director Ragis Musa said she was happy with the turnout.

“I love seeing how many supporters we have,” Musa said. “I’m just happy that people want to experience a little bit of Africa.”

Musa, who was born in Sudan and came to the U.S. as a refugee in 2000, said it’s a way for her to share a part of herself.

“A part of me belongs in Africa,” Musa said. “This (event) is a way for me to express my home to others.”