Africans United, the student organization at CSU comprised of 30 members from all over Africa wearing shirts that said “I Rep Africa” wrapped up African Awareness Week with the celebration of the Fourth African Night, an exhibition of African culture Saturday in The Lory Student Center.
The event was meant to raise awareness of diverse cultural issues that many student leaders say are swept under the rug at CSU, which, according to institutional research reports is 13 percent racially diverse.
Ange Soumahoro, a political science graduate student from the Ivory Coast, said it’s vital for African students to show that they are a real presence in society.
“[Fourth Africa Night] is a question of pride for me,” Soumahoro said. “It’s important for us to meet each other and share our culture.”
Sam Alemayeno, originally from Ethiopia paraded in green, gold and red, the official colors of their country and talked about theimportance of raising awareness about Africa in a community they say is not diverse.
“We’re trying to show a different side of Africa that people don’t see,” Alemayeno said. “On TV, Africa is portrayed negatively, but there’s more than that, it’s about culture.”
The co-founder of Africans United and senior natural sciences major, Abigail Mensah-Bonsu stressed the importance of cultural awareness, especially at a university like CSU where the majority of students are Caucasian.
“We need to open the eyes of the CSU community about different cultures on campus. When you watch the National Geographic, you don’t see what Africa is about; we need to show Africa in a positive light,” Mensah-Bonsu said.
The night illustrated African culture to community members and student with a dinner of traditional African food from all over Africa and an African dance performance.
Hundreds of students and community members participated in the Taste of Africa, which was a free meal offered by Africans United, which educates students about African traditional food that includes cassava, beef and rice curry and ginger tea.
Following that was the African Night Theatrical Performance, which exhibited modern and traditional and dances from Uganda, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya and the Caribbean, all performed and directed by AU members.
On the traditional side, the community based Falé African Dance group, performed a few dances based on free movements, while the beats of the drums made the audience toss and turn in their chairs.
Although Africans United started in 2004 as a forum for African students to interact with each other, they also play what they call a pivotal role in educating students about cultural issues.
Staff writer Lucia Papureanu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.