African History Week kicks off at U

The African Student Association is sponsoring the series of events aimed at dispelling Africa’s negative image.

Patricia Drey

Death, hunger and poverty are what surveyed University students told junior Marcia Ashong were the first thoughts to come to mind when thinking of Africa.

Ashong surveyed approximately 20 students and said she hopes African History Week, a series of African Student Association-sponsored events this week, can change some of those perceptions.

“My continent is so much more than that – so much more than just people dying, so much more than just people hungry,” said Ashong, African Student Association vice president. “I think Africa is one of the most misunderstood continents in the world.”

Ashong said the week’s activities will present African culture and promote discussion on the continent’s social and economic issues.

The week starts with an afternoon showcase today in which students can present their home countries through items such as books and clothing, Ashong said. Countries from sub-Saharan Africa will have the most representation, she said.

At a political forum Tuesday, students will discuss past and current development in Africa, and ways they, as U.S. students, can help forward this development, she said.

The discussion will switch from economics to romance on Wednesday, when students will discuss the difficulties African students in the United States face finding partners, she said.

“There’s a problem right now because African men are going somewhere else to find women because they’re so limited in the African women here,” she said.

A brown-bag luncheon Thursday will explore how African women have contributed to the nation’s development and discuss women’s present and future roles, she said.

The highlight of the week’s events will be Saturday, association President Gladys Mambo said. African Nite, an event that attracted approximately 700 people last year, will feature guest speakers, poetry, dancing, a fashion show, a skit and singing, she said.

All students are invited to attend the events, and organizers said they especially hope students unfamiliar with the culture show up.

“While we like African students to be at the events, that’s not who we’re trying to reach,” Mambo said. “That’s kind of preaching to the choir.”