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The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

Leaders of African FON prepare to showcase dances from across the African continent

African+FON+leaders+showcase+their+FON+at+the+kickoff+rally+last+December.
Tabassum Ahmed
African FON leaders showcase their FON at the kickoff rally last December.
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Each year, the Festival of Nation’s (FON) lineup of represented cultures expands, welcoming new additions. This year, among these new additions, is African FON, led by seniors Tolulope Agosu, Vanessa Eziuzo, Malak Elzaalok, and Iyad El Bouanani, who shared their journey as FON leaders and their anticipation for this week’s show

African FON was once part of the Festival of Nations, but it gradually faded away after the COVID-19 pandemic, with its last performance being in 2018. Since then, this FON has sparked widespread interest among many students, who were eager for the opportunity to showcase the diverse cultures found within the African continent. This interest sparked Vanessa’s idea of the revival of African FON. She “wasn’t sure if [she] could do it” initially, but after “[her] co-leader Tolulope reached out to [her] with the same idea,” they agreed to work together to “[bring] African FON back to life,” said Vanessa. 

“Vanessa and I decided to come together to create African FON because we were not the only ones that were yearning for the FON to come back,” Tolulope said. “We received a lot of good feedback when we proposed the idea, and it was able to come to life.”

African FON will be showcasing an entire continent filled with a variety of cultures, each with its own unique characteristics. “Each of our songs comes from a different region of Africa, and all of our dance moves incorporate moves from all regions of Africa: the West, Central, East, South, and North,” Vanessa said. “Africa is a vibrant place, [and] after our performance, I want people to leave knowing how energetic and charming each part of Africa is.”

While FON remains a great way for students to have fun and put on a spectacular show in celebration of many cultures, the four leaders emphasized the challenging process of preparing the dancers and the necessary materials for the performance. 

“Being a FON leader is a very important role,” Tolulope said. “If you want to be one, you have to commit to it, not procrastinate, and see it through because if you and your partners don’t get things done, you will have no dancers, no costumes, and there will be no FON.”

Despite the challenges, the leaders also expressed their love for FON and how rewarding the experience has been for them. “Of course, there are times when things are stressful and there’s a lot of things that need to be done, but we work well as a team, and I couldn’t wish for better co-leaders. I enjoy working alongside my fellow leaders, creating choreography, strategically selecting songs, [and more]. Being a leader has been a fun and rewarding experience,” Vanessa said.

Likewise, Tolulope sums up her experience as a leader as “exciting, stressful, and rewarding all in one.”

The leaders are not the only ones who have enjoyed the preparation process and look forward to showcasing the variety of cultures within Africa. Members of African FON expressed how much they have enjoyed their journey throughout the past few months as well.

“My experience in African FON so far has been very fun and interactive,” junior Chelsea Nan said. “It is interesting to get to connect with your culture more in depth and experience the dance culture of the continent. Something I particularly like about it is that you get to have a rich and valuable experience with your friends that also brings you closer together culturally.”

“I particularly like the people and the leaders because I get to showcase my culture through dance with my friends and the people I value,” junior Amala Madubuko adds. “The leaders have been really nice to work with and always keep the people’s energy and vibes up.”

Senior Maya Liriano said, “The rehearsals are always fun-filled, and the dances are clearly explained.” She sums up her time in African FON as “a great experience.”

When asked about their feelings about the upcoming show, members expressed much excitement to showcase the performance that they had been working hard on for the past few months.

Chelsea said, “Now that the show is less than a week away, it’s definitely nerve-racking but also exciting because we will soon get to showcase what we’ve been working on for months now.” 

“I feel very excited and prepared to perform,” Amala said. “We have been working really hard and can’t wait to showcase African culture.”

Likewise, Maya said, “They’ve prepared us well, and I’m sure African [FON] will have an amazing performance.”

With the first show being this Friday, the leaders also shared their hopes and anticipation for their first performance with The Classic

Vanessa said, “Knowing that FON is [a few days away] is both exciting and nerve-racking. All our hard work will be shown on stage, so I place a lot of pressure on myself to ensure that everything runs smoothly.” Nonetheless, she says that she is “excited to showcase all the work [they have] put into making this FON great and exciting.”

“The show being [this week] does not feel real,” said Tolulope. “It does not feel like performance day is [this friday], but it is, and I’m excited but also anxious.”

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