A Night Of Cultural Celebration


The African Women’s Alliance (AWA) organization will host its annual Niabinji event on Sunday, Oct. 28 in the Student Union Multipurpose Room (MPR) at 7 p.m.

An evening of music, dancing and carrot cake, Niabinji is a “celebration of self-expression and unity,” as well as a representation of a variety of colorful cultures, Desiree David, president of AWA said.

“Niabinji is an African term meaning ‘Night of Expression,’” David said. “[The event] is like a cultural talent show, without the competition.”

This celebration of cultural expression was established on campus in 1980 by Margaret Wade Lewis, David said. Now in its 32nd year, AWA is proud to keep the tradition alive and as popular as ever.

David said poetry and spoken word are the more traditional featured events, but song and dance have become increasingly popular throughout the years of celebrating Niabinji.

“The MPR is almost always full of people during this event,” David said. “It’s one of our more popular ones.”

This year there will be a total of 15 performances from local groups including Culture Shock, Urban Lyrics, Epic Glee, Nachle New Paltz and Domino Effect. David said every year brings in a bigger and more enthusiastic crowd of performers. Once all of the organizations have performed, there is even a chance for last minute acts to take the stage.

Nachle New Paltz, an organization that evolved in spring 2010, is a branch off of the South Asian Cultural Association (SACA) and features South Asian dancing and movement, Oluwatofunmi Ayanfodun, treasurer/secretary of Nachle said. They are performing at Niabinji for their third consecutive year.

Nachle normally performs Bollywood-styled choreography with an inclusion of classical Indian dance, Ayanfodun said. But this year they want to “step out of [their] comfort zone” for the celebration.

“We want to perform something tougher, fiercer and totally different, while still incorporating our usual style,” she said. “Niabinji is a diverse and cultural event. We really want to put ourselves out there while also supporting other organizations that are promoting a similar cause.”

Nachle New Paltz, along with Culture Shock and Urban Lyrics, are acts that have participated in the past and who AWA hopes will continue as fixtures in the future of Niabinji, David said.

Craig Washington, president of Culture Shock, said the hip hop inspired organization has performed for every Niabinji, since its birth in 1997.

“The crowd [for Niabinji] is always energetic and supportive,” Washington said. “It’s always our first performance of the year and it gives the campus a chance to see our new members.”

David said the groups that perform for Niabinji make the show what it is as they are all unique and express a different, yet equally beautiful identity.

“It’s a night for everyone to just come together and show off who they are,” David said. “There’s no competition, just self-expression.”