Hosted by the Ghana Project, the eighth annual Ghana Gala took place in the MacVittie College Union Ballroom on March 5. This event provided attendees with a spectacular glimpse into the culture of Ghanaian people, looking into traditional dances, food and apparel from Ghana while raising money in order to donate and to improve education and healthcare in the country. Over the past two years, this event has generated over $3,000 for the Besease Village School and Agogo Hospital.
The event featured coordinator of the French Language program and assistant professor of French Kodjo Adabra and Ghana Project president senior Aoife Forde as guest speakers and showcased performances by various dance groups in Geneseo. The gala opened with a performance from Ghanaian dance and drum ensemble group Korye Geneseo, led by fellow guest speaker Yahayo Alhassan. The group preformed native African dances with various drums and instruments, capturing the intensity and spirit of Africa.
An authentic Ghanaian dinner preceded the initial performance. With the menu ranging from caramelized plantains to Jollof Rice, it successfully fostered the traditional Ghanaian cuisine. The “red-red”—a bean stew made with tomato base served with plantains—was also delicious.
Alongside the dinner, Alhassan described his adventures and experiences with building schools and helping children in Ghana receive formal education. With education, these children can become more engaged with the expansive world around them—one that they could not otherwise experience. Alhassan helped build primary schools and also purchased students their first laptop computers. He explained that he wishes to create unity across Cape Coast, Besease and Geneseo. Following his speech about unity and aid, there was another African dance performance.
In a visual presentation, Adabra highlighted the myriad of ways that the media misrepresents Africa globally. He depicted many beautiful and wonderful landmarks in Africa, as well as traditions and culture. He repeatedly asked the audience the rhetorical question, “Is Africa invisible?” talking about how Westerners typically view Africa as a land filled with starvation, poverty and disease and neglect to recognize its unique cultures and beauty.
After the informative speech on the significance of Africa, Geneseo Gospel Choir—led by senior Geneviva Dodoo—sang a poignant and soulful song about God, followed by a well-choreographed dance routine from the hip-hop and Caribbean-influenced Geneseo group Original Expressions.
Concluding the night was the highly anticipated fashion show. Most of the models were Geneseo students who wished for—and finally realized—their chance to strut down the runway in modern and traditional Ghanaian fashion. The fashion ranged from brightly patterned tops to dresses to pants. It was a stunning end to an already wonderful night.
“I initially came for the food and to support a good cause, but the performances were amazing and I learned so much about Ghanaian culture that I had not known,” sophomore Rachel Davis said.
The Ghana Gala is an engaging annual function blending fun with improving the health and education of children in Ghana; a tradition carried on successfully in this year’s event.