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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 19, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

News

African Students Association to present third annual Africa Week

The Ithaca College African Students Association will present the third annual Africa Week, themed “The Power of Stories,” beginning April 13 and ending April 18. Senior Makda Getachew, vice president of IC ASA, said the goal of the week was to dispel stereotypes perpetuated by media by sharing stories and commemorating African culture.

“Something we started talking about last semester … was how important it is to have multiple stories being told, diverse stories being told, about you, about your identity, about your continent and where you come from,” she said.

There are six events featured, including the screening of a Nigerian historical-drama film, a panel highlighting the complexity of the African diaspora and a pageant featuring African clothing and designs.

The week-long event will begin April 13 with a discussion about the ways in which Africans and non-Africans in the diaspora can engage in forms of partnership and entrepreneurship, which will be headed by Solome Lemma, co-founder and executive director of Africans in the Diaspora, a social activist group that focuses on bringing Africans in the diaspora and in Africa together.

Senior Natasha Kirabo, event manager of IC ASA, said the diaspora refers to all people with an African heritage, African or African-American, who live outside of the African continent.

Getachew said the main goal of the discussion is to capitalize on what the African diaspora has to offer and empower people in the diaspora.

On April 14, the film adaptation of Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book, “Half of a Yellow Sun,” will be screened.

Senior Steven Kobby Lartey, president of IC ASA, said the film is a love story within the context of the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War.

“We thought it was absolutely important to screen this movie particularly because, in line with our theme, the executive board felt that the Biafran War, often hidden or glossed over in the book of history, not only demonstrates the ways in which the colonialism, power, greed and oil intersect but also the clear ramifications it has had not only in Nigeria and in Africa, but around the world,” Lartey said.

A panel titled “Frictions in the Diaspora” will be held April 15. It will feature a variety of speakers in the African diaspora.

The panel will be a more close and intimate conversation on the frictions among different communities in the Diaspora and how the communities see themselves overcoming those frictions to reach a more unified community, Getachew said.

On April 16, IC ASA will present a TED Talk by Adichie, titled “Danger of a Single Story.” The screening will be followed by a discussion held by sophomore Hadiza Kassim, secretary of IC ASA, and junior Rita Bunatal, IC ASA public relations chair .

Getachew said the educational screening and discussion is focused on people who aren’t part of the African community and how important it is to look out for stories that aren’t fully representational of the African continent.

“Images, stories, articles that are written, media — it compresses our continent into one kind of idea … I feel like [the screening] is a really good educational opportunity, especially for first-year students, to help change the conversation about Africa,” Getachew said.

On April 17, the Mr. & Ms. ASA Pageant and Fashion Show will be held. Kirabo said it is a fun and cultural way to approach the end of the week.

“We’re bringing an outside African designer … We have a student designer [Hadiza Kassim] on campus, too, who makes African print clothes, so we’re going to use her clothes for exposure,” Kirabo said.

The pageant will consist of an introduction phase, a Q&A phase and then a talent phase. The audience will vote on who should win, Kirabo said.

The music will be deejayed by DJ Owura who specializes in Afro-Beats and Caribbean music, Kirabo said. The DJ will also stay during the “Sankofa” banquet.

“Sankofa means ‘go back and retrieve’ … It means go back and retrieve the stories of our past, and people and our ancestors,” Getachew said.

Africa Week will conclude with the banquet, presented by keynote speaker Aloja Airewele, director of humanitarian response project “Shape our Future Now,” on April 18. The banquet will feature many student-run performances such as dance groups and poets. The winners of the pageant will also be announced.

Airewele is a prominent leader who brings experience, wisdom and knowledge, Kirabo said.

The highlight of the banquet is the buffet that will feature authentic foods from West and East Africa, Kirabo said. The menu will also be served in the Campus Center on April 17.

Lartey said the goal of Africa Week is to create a space where everyone can tell their story.

“Although all our stories are different and they all cut along different paths, they all really intersect at the points of human dignity and humanity, and the points at which they intersect really need to be recognized,” Lartey said.