Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Celebrations To Nourish Soul On Africa Day

El Hadji Malick Ndiaye starts most of his classes with a simple question: “How many foreign students do you really know?”

On a campus that prides itself on diversity, Ndiaye, French professor and faculty associate of the Global African Studies program, sees this direct contact as a critical step toward open-mindedness.

“A lot of college students are at an age where they need another discourse,” Ndiaye said. “They need something else than just the media’s formatted discourses, and we are fortunate that here at Seattle U we have the possibility to have something on Africa and on the diaspora.”
For him, it is necessary that we constantly challenge dismal, oversimplified misconceptions of Africa. He said that college is a time to engage oneself with the communities around us.

This week’s events will be the fifth annual celebration of Africa Day here at Seattle University. It is a commemoration of the 1963 founding of The Organization of African Unity, what would eventually become the African Union. This international event highlights the historical independence of African nations, the important role played by the diaspora and their continuing influence in the world.

He believes that Africa Day is a chance to truly understand the reality that Africa is a continent that has a rich history and is a vibrant contemporary hub for culture and intellectual discourse.

For associate professor of history, film studies and global African studies, Saheed Adejumobi, Africa Day serves as a validation of the
aspirations of freedom.

Previous themes for the events include “Global Education and Justice,” “Immigration as the Engine of Modernity,” and “Lessons from our Revolutionary Past,” and this year will continue their record of discussing justice. Adejumobi believes that this year’s theme, “Black History Matters,” will help bring new grounding to the recent events in Ferguson and Baltimore as well as the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We hope to spend these two days in making people aware of the importance of the black experience and also the fact that black cultural creativity is very significant, is very important in the total equation of why black lives matter,” Adejumobi said.

The first event, held on Thursday, May 28, will highlight this creativity. Writer, film critic and cultural scholar Charles Mudede will speak to not only the African experience, but also this cultural understanding. As a writer known locally for his work with The Stranger, he will address the ideas of post-industrial capitalism and African traditions in cinema with his lecture at 6 p.m. in the Pigott Auditorium. Mudede has had a variety of film experience; his most recent film “Police Beat” covers footage of Seattle police to analyze the current situation of the police state. He is knowledgable about global issues of black identity as well as local contexts, which help to balance these multi-leveled identities.

Two major events are planned for Friday, May 29. The first is a roundtable discussion on volunteering and aid work in the African continent. Ndiaye sees this event as an exercise for students as well as faculty to challenge preconceived notions.

“I think that it’s a good epistemological and critical exercise for a student who is engaged with critical thought, to go to this kind of event and see how they can evaluate their own perception,” he said.

Adejumobi supported Ndiaye’s statement by explaining that one cannot fully engage in a discussion about the problems of Africa without completely understanding the situation there. It is important for students to understand the efforts from both outside as well as inside the continent. The panel of faculty, international aid workers and members of development organizations seeks to discuss that topic and open up a dialogue.

After the discussion, a celebration will be held that will include music, food and a commemoration of African creativity. For junior Tesi Uwibambe, this celebration is one of the most important aspects of Africa Day.

“It’s not just for us as a community but to involve everyone, and to show that we are in solidarity with the issues that people are facing here, and we’re not trying to distance ourselves from the communities
here,” Uwibambe said.

This celebration will feature Draze, a local hip-hop artist whose songs speak to his Zimbabwean heritage and the gentrification in the Central District, his local community.

For Uwibambe, these celebrations are not just about education, but also about building community and nourishing the soul. She encouraged all students to attend the events. Ndiaye also spoke to this, emphasizing that the work done by students like Uwibambe as well as the faculty and staff that have organized these events should be celebrated and supported. And although the discourse has many different levels, for Africa Day at Seattle U, the message is simple:

“Come one, come all. That’s the message,” Adejumobi said.

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