Pan-Africanism, which encourages solidarity among Africans worldwide, will be celebrated through a series of weeklong events hosted by the African Students Association at Ithaca College. “Embracing Pan-Africa” is the main focus of this year’s Africa Week and aims to raise awareness of what Pan-Africa means.
Senior Lashanda Anakwah, public relations chair for the ASA, said Pan-Africanism unifies all people of African descent, regardless of what part of Africa they are from.
“Pan-Africa is the belief that people of African descent are all connected because of our African heritage,” she said.
The college’s fifth annual Africa Week is from April 11–16 and includes events such as film screenings and discussions. The week will conclude with a banquet held at Hotel Ithaca.
Senior Rita Bunatal, co-president of the ASA, said Africa Week aims to highlight the complexities and beauty of the continent. In addition, she said, Pan-Africa has been a prevalent theme in the ASA not only for Africa Week, but for the whole year.
“This theme is our theme of the year and centers on the unity that comes about through the various aspects of Pan-Africanism,” Bunatal said. “This year, we had many events that focused on the idea of Pan-Africanism and what that means to the world in which we are living in.”
These events that took place during the year include country-of-the-month events, a black business panel and a Herstory event that focused on the stories of African women, Bunatal said.
Anakwah said the theme of Pan-Africa will benefit the college community because not many people know what Pan-Africa means, and these events will get them talking about it. This year’s Africa Week is a continuation of last year’s theme of diaspora, she said.
“We’re building off of what we did last year,” Anakwah said. “Last year, we were talking about diaspora, and now we’re focusing on Pan-Africa.”
Africa Week kicks off with “Frictions in the Diaspora,” which is a panel-style discussion that aims to tackle misconceptions and challenges faced by members of the African diaspora.
The next event is a screening of the documentary “Am I: Too African to be American or Too American to be African.” Nadia Sasso, director of the film, will hold a question-and-answer segment following the film. The documentary follows the lives of young African women living in America and West Africa and how they deal with issues such as race and gender, among others.
Sophomore Keisha Osei, advertising chair for the ASA, said it’s important that this film be shown because it can educate others on a culture they might not know too well.
“It’s important with the education piece, letting people know what it means to be part of a society and being African-American,” Osei said. “That’s why we do stuff like this, just to give people that knowledge and let them know what it means. That’s the big part of why we’re doing this film and how it embodies the theme of the year.”
The rest of the events include “Spotlight Africa,” a discussion on how the media covers news in Africa and an “Entrepreneurship Bazaar,” in which vendors and student-run businesses will sell their merchandise.
The week will conclude with the “Ujaama Banquet,” which will include food, dancing and a surprise host who will not be revealed until the day of the event. In previous years, the event has been held in Emerson Suites, but this year, it will be held in Hotel Ithaca. Anakwah said the change of venues is an attempt from ASA to “do things bigger and better.”
Osei said Africa Week will benefit the student community by allowing it to immerse itself in a different culture. She said students who attend the events will get a taste of different parts of the country and learn about this year’s theme of Pan-Africa.
“It’s important to bring diversity within a campus, and I feel like it should be more than a week, but it’s just one week to bring out what our theme is and what the organization is about,” Osei said. “It’s very important to teach those individuals that don’t know about ASA that we are here, this is our organization, and you can join — don’t be afraid. That’s why Africa Week is such a big week.”