Photo Courtesy of Africa Global

Afro Fest returns as a welcome celebration of community and collective joy

Afro Fest, a showcase and celebration of cultures from the African continent and diaspora, brought the NYUAD community together to share and learn through performances, educational booths, and food.

Nov 21, 2022

On Nov. 18, the NYU Abu Dhabi community came together in the West Forum to celebrate a showcase of the cultures from the African continent and diaspora, organized by the Student Interest Group, Africa Global. A night of delicious food, music, and dance performances, Afro Fest is an annual tradition carried on from pre-pandemic times, and it marked a zealous, joyous occasion to sit with, share and learn from cultural commonalities and differences.
“Afro Fest, at its core, is a celebratory event. The goal of Afro Fest is to celebrate and showcase culture from the African continent and diaspora,” shared Daby Ibegbu, Class of 2023 and President of Africa Global.
Photo Courtesy of Africa Global
Among the many landmark cultural events at NYUAD, Afro Fest is one of the most anticipated and popular events on our campus. Not only does it offer a much-needed break for students stuck in the rut of their academic routine, but also sheds light on a specific cultural heritage that is a trademark for NYUAD’s diverse student body.
“We want to train cultural ambassadors from Africa and the diaspora who represent their countries or regions and share their experiences of that culture. As the president, it was important for me to create a space where everyone from the continent and diaspora felt included and celebrated, which is a difficult task when you're representing a very large and diverse community of people. But, at the end of the day, people had fun, people learned a lot, and people felt connected to the African and diasporic community on campus,” explained Ibegbu.
When organizing Afro Fest, the E-board of Africa Global was intentional about creating a space where the diversity of its members is shared and celebrated. According to Mansour Tahirou Abdoulaye, Class of 2023 and Treasurer of Africa Global, “Afro Fest showcases the African continent and Diaspora in an inclusive and cohesive manner. It brings together the campus community to celebrate the diversity of its members while enjoying some amazing food and performances.”
Photo Courtesy of Africa Global
The event featured a wide array of cultural displays by different constituent countries followed by performances, and it eventually culminated in dancing the night away together. For many in the E-board of Africa Global, the event is an important night to bring together their distinct heritage and celebrate their shared customs together. The reception from the audience was a particularly heart warming aspect for the organizers. "It was really exciting to bring an Afro Fest event to showcase culture, food, and performances from Africa continent and the Diaspora. Seeing many people within our NYUAD community coming to attend the event and enjoy the good music vibes, food, and cultural showcase was one of the best moments of the event," explained Lukelo Luoga, Class of 2024 and Director of Events for Africa Global.
Mbiko Mayaka, Class of 2023, shared us with us the importance of having spaces to share and unapologetically celebrate one’s culture: “I'm the only Zambian on campus and having nights like these where people genuinely ask about home reminds me of how important it is for us to actively engage with each other’s backgrounds. It makes me feel seen for all parts of my identity. I love to dance so the dance performances are always my favorite parts of the night. Zambians hype people up when they dance, throw money at their feet, on their heads, scream the dancer's name if it's known. We provide a really supportive environment and seeing that mimicked by people from other parts of the continent and the African diaspora was incredible because built up on each other’s support for a collectively fun night. I'm glad this was my last one. It was a good one (P.S Ghanaian Jollof is superior)."
Photo Courtesy of Africa Global
For graduating seniors, the night was the second and last time they were able to bring together their community, as a result of the disruption to in-person events during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It was great to be part of Afro Fest one last time and to celebrate it in person after Covid restrictions was truly amazing. This year, I helped with the cultural ambassador tables. Specifically I was representing Ghana and had the chance to educate people about my culture and traditions,” shared Gabby Ashong, Class of 2023.
Ribka Tewelde, Class of 2023, who performed a poetry reading at Afro Fest echoed the same sentiments: “It felt absolutely exhilarating to be a part of an annual tradition that celebrates Afro culture worldwide. The music, clothes, and performances made me incredibly emotional and I am so proud of all the participants. As a senior, I’m glad I was able to be a part of the event that made my first year so special. Huge shoutout to the Africa Global team for doing such a fabulous job!”
Photo Courtesy of Africa Global
For some, Afro Fest has been a part of their life on campus throughout their undergraduate journey and is an avenue to boldly center cultures from the African continent and the diaspora, to celebrate collective joy. This was the case for Kenechukwu Ezeifemeelu, Class of 2023, who shared with us, “Participating in the Afro Fest is all about the vibes … In the past four years, I've been a dancer, cultural ambassador, fashion show contestant, and Master of Ceremonies. It's fun to get out there and be proud that I'm African, especially since there are so many issues out there that try to keep us down.”
At the end of the day, Afro Fest is a festival of joy and community. As Milka Asgedom, Class of 2024 shared with us, “Anytime there is Black joy on this campus, I like seeing it, participating in it, being a part of it, and to have it on such a large scale where all of us were thriving together for hours on end was really meaningful to me. It was beautiful, uplifting, I left the event thrilled.”
Huma Umar and Githmi Rabel are Editors-in-Chief. Email them at
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