In a dimly lit Duffield Hall on Saturday evening, students lined up for a “night market” to sample cuisine from Ghana, Ethiopia and Nigeria and enjoy the diverse culinary culture of Africa.
“The purpose of the Africa Night Market is to expose the Cornell community to different African cultures because there is misconception that we’re all kind of the same,” said Maame Ohemeng ’20, organizer of the event and president of Ghanaians at Cornell. “We have different foods, different music, different people and it’s a way to bring us together and expose us to that.”
Dishes offered included — among many others — jollof rice from Ghana and Nigeria; waakye, a Ghanaian dish of rice and beans; and tibs, a type of grilled beef from Ethiopia.
Ohemeng said the food was cooked by members of the community. The home-made quality of the buffet presented a logistical problem for the organizers, as they experienced difficulty trying to get the student volunteers “out of their comfort zones” to cook for the Cornell community.
Whitney Okujagu ’19,who grew up in Liberia, was selling women’s skirts and waist beads at the market. Okujagu said her mother picks out and handmakes the skirts that wrap around one’s waist and are “common back home.”
“There’s a huge culture behind them,” Okujagu said of the waist skirts and beads.
Issah Madugu ’19, exhibited his startup clothing line with prints he designs for sale. Madugu recently struck a contract with the Cornell Store to sell his clothing at a pop-up event starting Nov. 1. All orders to his pop up shop will be sent back to Ghana, where the clothing is handmade.
“When I got to Cornell, there was nothing like African prints in the Cornell Store,” Madugu said. By selling his African culture-infused design at The Cornell Store, Madugu also hopes he can inspire future students who hope to see their culture represented at Cornell.
Bernard Baffoe-Mensah ’20, who served as master of ceremonies of the event, said this is the second time the organization hosted the event. “When you go to African markets, you tend to find vendors, you tend to find food…you can literally find anything that you want in an African market.”
“Two years ago we had a lot of people walk in and walk out,” Baffoe-Mensah said. “We [Ghanaians at Cornell] just want to create that global mindset, that when we leave Cornell, we’re just not Cornellians… we’re [a] global people.”