A night of joy and unity

In recent years, the Hamline African Student Association’s biggest event has been Pamoja Night. Facing the challenge of a new board and COVID-19 restrictions, Pamoja Night went on to bring music, fashion and poetry to a Thursday evening.

Sarah Sawyer, Reporter

Hamline’s African Student Association (HASA) is dedicated to supporting students in the Africa Diaspora, according to their Instagram at hasa_hamline. Pamoja Night is a big event for the organization to celebrate culture, food, fashion, music and community. The night is considered the highlight of the year for them. Amidst the stress and isolation brought on by the challenges of 2020, an event like Pamoja Night is a much-needed celebration for students.


“Pamoja means togetherness,” said sophomore Lensa Mohammed. 


Mohammed, the new president of HASA, performed “Someone Like You” by Adele at the event. Songs were pre-recorded and submitted through a Google form this year.


 “I love Adele, so why not?” Mohammed said. 


Other performances included an original music video and song by Mohamed called “Mr. Fly” as well as John Legend’s song “All of Me,” sung by sophomore Christina Krayee, HASA’S public relations chair. The end result of the music segment was beautiful. Each performance shone in its own way.


 Krayee’s favorite performance of the night was senior Rose-Marie Athiley’s poetry reading. A powerful piece on African heritage and generational trauma.


“Generations birthed against will. Generations birthed tethered to land foreign to

their feet. Generations cursed to search for belonging in 54 countries of a continent

vast with tribes, cultures, and languages. Generations birthed so hope would survive,” Athiley said.


The event was not easy to pull off. Without the option for an in-person performance, a new board had to adapt to COVID-19 policies. 


“It came with so many trials and tribulations,” Mohammed said.


Originally, the board wanted to do the fashion show live on the Old Main lawn, but this was rejected by Conference and Event Management (CEM) due to COVID-19 concerns. Eventually, a solution was found by having CEM send a cameraman to pre-record the fashion show in Bridgeman Hall. The fashion show represented style from a diverse group of countries including Ghana, Liberia, Cameroon and the region of Oromia in Ethiopia. Catering was done by having pre-packaged boxes of food that students could pick up in Anderson. 


Both Mohammed and Krayee felt that the night went well and was a good example of what it means to come together and celebrate culture despite any surrounding difficulties. HASA plans next to hold an event featuring a speaker to talk about current issues various African countries are facing, such as the “EndSARS” movement in Nigeria, that involves protests against police brutality. Mohammed encourages all students interested in HASA to join, regardless of whether they are African or not.