By: Kristin Hankerson, Georgia Bennett, LaToya Dove
On October 3rd an array of different people, fashions and cultures from all over the African continent came together to celebrate the 25th annual Twese banquet. Livingston Student Center was immersed in a pool of vibrant patterns, colors and dance as Rutgers African student body took centre stage, to showcase the beauty and diversity of African Culture. The night was packed with inspirational speeches, entertaining dance competitions, and an excellent live band who performed renditions of everything from Ed Sheeran to Iyanya and Usher to Kcee.
On its silver anniversary, members of the e-board, present and past came together to organise an excellent event that reaffirmed the very meaning of the word “Twese” – “Unity” in Kinya-Rwanda. As a group that emerged during the early 90’s at Rutgers, over the past 25 years the society has grown from a small collective of students from African descent, into a thriving community centered on discussing, sharing, and celebrating all things African. To start the evening off, the executive board showcased a video that highlighted some of the most memorable Twese moments over the last 25 years. What was so enlightening about this was the archival videos have not been viewed by many of the spectators, so seeing the various similarities and differences was truly eye opening. From the dance troupe to the fashion show, 25 years has truly stood the test of time.
Though the evening was laden with quaint subtleties such as live table decorations in the manner of goldfish in vases, and even a photo-booth fit for celebrities- the highlight of the evening was without a doubt the competition for best dressed, closely followed by the dance- off. A variety of different styles from all over the continent lined the front of the stage to win the opportunity to be named Twese best dressed 2015. Furthermore, the crowd rose to their feet as members of the audience battled it out to see who would take home the Twese best dancer crown. The twist? The young lady crowned dance champion was asked to face off against a former champion in an all out battle. After various dance moves were exchanged, the 2015 champion maintained her title.
The banquet took a more serious, yet uplifting note when senior Muna Ilogu introduced the video of her work in Nigeria this past summer with the Helping Hearts of Africa Project. This initiative was created to provide young orphaned children with supplies needed for school, as well as beds to sleep on, toys to play with, and an overall safe environment to be in.
Additionally, former Twese member Ope Babjide gave a speech about legacy, and how we should wish to leave a positive lasting impression on this Earth. After a wonderful night of speeches and audience interaction, then came the infamous Twese Dance Troupe to show off their culture, clad in African dance skirts. They danced to various African tunes, which definitely made the crowd roar in applause. Finally, it was time to dance. With the assistance of DJ Flygerian, the executive board and audience members alike took to the dance floor in celebration of Twese’s 25 years, and certainly in wishes of more to come.