She has red adornments in her hair, a white off-the-shoulder top and a long, high-waisted skirt, complete with bright colors and patterns all the way to her feet.
The theme accounting and finance junior Beeter Tsuuh chose for the night was the Nigerian bride. She completed the look with red beaded earrings and a gold bracelet, though it’s not nearly as much jewelry as a bride would have at a real Nigerian wedding, Tsuuh said.
“We normally adorn ourselves from our feet, to our dresses, to our hair, to our arms - everything,” she said.
She said when she gets married, she wants to honor her country’s traditions.
“I want the white traditional Christian marriage, and then the Nigerian traditional marriage,” Tsuuh said. “Of course it’s expensive, but you've got to know your worth.”
This year’s fifth annual Coming to Africa culture showcase was held in the Rosebud Theatre on Friday.
The show was intended to be a place where African culture could be highlighted through their fashion, theater performances, dance, spoken word and music, said Uzodinma Mgbahurike, African Student Organization president.
“The premise of the show is basically to have a space for us Africans on campus to come and be out, be ourselves, and be loud and proud of our culture, and also expose the rest of the UTA community to African culture,” Mgbahurike said.
Tsuuh said besides getting to dress up, part of the reason she attended the event was to be seen.
“I’m African. I’m from Nigeria,” she said. “So I have to represent and I have to support my people.”
Similarly to Tsuuh, nursing sophomore Samrah Jankowiak said she attended the event to represent her country. She was born in Ethiopia and said she’s currently trying to improve her native language.
She originally planned to be a part of the show as a dancer, but her major made the performance hard to fit into her schedule, Jankowiak said. However, she said she’s going to try again next year because the event provides a way to show her diversity.
“It’s a showcase of diversity on campus,” she said. “It really means a lot to show my peers and to celebrate with other Africans what makes us special.”
The African Student Organization hosts the Coming to Africa event every year, with a different theme each time, Mgbahurike said. This year, the theme was the African woman.
“It’s sort of a love letter to the African woman,” Mgbahurike said. “Our mothers, our sisters, they’re like the backbone of the African society.”
He said that performing in the play tonight was special for him because he wrote it with the help of his friend, a female playwright, over the summer.
The play is focused on a female lead character who is diagnosed with schizophrenia, Mgbahurike said. It follows the reactions of her friends and family about her mental illness and how they deal with the situation.
After the play, a psychologist from Counseling and Psychological Services came to tell the audience about their services and how it’s important to normalize that it’s OK to get help for mental issues, no matter what community you come from.
Mgbahurike said he thinks treating mental illnesses should be more accepted in the African community, and that the play acts as a PSA.
His play was a good way to finish his senior year, Mgbahurike said, because he’d been involved with the Coming to Africa plays since his freshman year.
He was hesitant to perform as a freshman, but when his friend dragged him to practice, Mgbahurike saw that one of the main characters had his brother’s name, so he reluctantly accepted the role.
“I was trying to avoid this play, and now I'm at the center of it,” he said.
The play went very well, Mgbahurike said, and he was pleased that for weeks afterward, people on campus would call him by his character’s (and brother’s) name, telling him he did great in the play.
“It was cool,” he said. “I just got here. I was a freshman on campus, and literally people were, you know, talking to me.”
From there, Mgbahurike said the experience drew him closer to the African Student Organization, leading him to write the next year’s play as the drama chair and join the executive board as a junior.
Now he is the president of the organization, performing one last time.
“It's really defined my college career,” he said.
Mgbahurike said although the show and organization are African-centered, anyone interested in African culture is invited to attend both the event and organization meetings.
“This isn't just for Africans, we’re also including the entire UTA community as well, to come through and see our show,” he said. “We wanted to make something that everyone can relate to, in a sense.”