Kent African Student Association’s third annual Face of Africa pageant brought people together in their celebration of African culture. The judges voted and Kent State crowned a new king and queen as the faces of Africa Friday.
Mike Esekwen and Katia Roberts took home the crowns after impressing judges and the audience with their respective talents, outfits and representation of their countries.
Roberts, a senior anthropology major, couldn’t fight back her tears when she accepted her crown and sash.
“I’m so happy to be a part of the pageant this year,” Roberts said to the crowd.
Esekwen, a junior anthropology major, said he didn’t think he would win.
“I’m really humbled about this,” Esekwen said.
Not only did the pageant focus on tradition, but it also educated students on African culture.
“There’s not a lot of times where we can all get the chance to embrace the African culture, see what it’s about and be put on by our own students,” said Chanda Chilupe, a senior entrepreneurship major and president of KASA.
The event had three segments: creative wear, talent and the tradition or evening portion where contestants answered questions. Each contestant got to choose a country in Africa they wanted to represent. Roberts chose Zimbabwe because she said she wanted to learn more about it.
“It’s a rich country with a beautiful heritage,” she said.
Chilupe handpicked three judges: Dean of Students Lamar Hylton, Academic Program Coordinator of Student Support Services Roslynn Porch and Program Coordinator in the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Henry Baté Agbor-Baiyee.
Hylton spent the entire night covering the event on Snapchat and Twitter.
“I have been here four and a half months as your Dean of Students and I can tell you that this is absolutely what I needed, when I needed it,” Hylton told the audience.
The Barefeet Dance Tribe performed at the event, and received a warm and excited reaction from the audience.
Hosts of the event also gave the audience a chance to bust some of their own moves during the brief intermission before the announcement of the winners. The lights turned out in the Schwartz lecture hall and music blared from the DJ's table, making everyone get out of their seats.
Chilupe hopes this experience will inspire students to come out to more of the organization’s events and learn more. With the Face of Africa pageant, she said it’s a start.
“It’s showcasing the culture and showing people the beauty of what we do,” Chilupe said.
Tierra Thomas is the African-American student life reporter. Contact her at email@example.com.