Global Union showcases ‘Discover Africa’ series throughout April

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Two students participate in an activity exploring African history during the Discover Africa Series on Thursday, April 4th, 2019 in the Roemmele Global Commons. The Global Union and African Student Association hosted the four-part series in an effort to engage students in African culture. (Isabella Zimmerman/B&W Staff)

The Global Union and African Student Association will be showcasing their “Discover Africa” series during the month of April.

The series will take place over four weeks and includes four featured speakers.

Khanjan Mehta, vice provost of creative inquiry, economics professor Todd Watkins, Nigerian lawyer Kingsley Moghalu and Cameroonian entrepreneur Roland Fomudam are four participating speakers in weekly talks on various topics, including Africa’s history, politics, businesses and culture. There are two events left — April 18 from 5-6:30 p.m. and April 25 from 6-8 p.m.

In previous years, the Global Union has hosted different series focused on other places around the world like China and India. Miriam Soriano Gregorio, ’20, the vice president of member programming for the Global Union, said Global Union is excited to be able to collaborate with the African Student Association this year to make this series as influential as possible.

“We want to really engage the community, but also make them more aware of the different cultures out in the world,” Gregorio said.

Tinotenda Petros, ’20, an African Student Association executive board member, said the events are aimed to engage students with what the continent and people are like.

He said attending school in the U.S allows students to be centralized around how things work within the country and have a Western perspective of the world. However, he said he hopes these talks will educate students on a new view and want to engage with a new culture.

“Obviously we are all educated people on campus, but there is still a misperception that’s held of different countries or continents, and as Africa being one of them, we think it’s very important that students learn about the real richness of the history and culture of Africa,” Gregorio said.

The ability for the Global Union and African Student Association to pull these events together was an effort by all members of both of the communities. Together, they collaborated and utilized any resources they possibly could on campus.

Paige Hapeman, ’19, an intern for the Global Union, and in particular to the “Discover Africa” series, explained her use of connections to try and make this event as successful. She said she utilized her connection with alumnus Toby Moghalu, ’17, to get his father Kingsley Moghalu to Skype into the politics section of the series.

Kingsley recently ran for the presidency of Nigeria and although he did not win this election, his political ideals and wisdom are helpful to the event’s success.

Petros said he wanted to find speakers who represent the purpose of the series. The organizers were able to secure a mixture of individuals who are African and can convey that message, as well as others who may not be African, but still possess the expertise and experience necessary to thoroughly understand the continent.

“For the second installment there is a Cameroonian entrepreneur who is going to be speaking and for the third installment we have the Nigerian presidential candidate,” Petros said. “What we are trying to do with that effort is to get actual African voices in Africa to be speaking up. It’s important for people to hear the voices of people who are on the continent now,”

While Watkins and Mehta aren’t African, they have extensive knowledge of the continent, as well as interest in its current events, making them qualified candidates to speak during the series.

Though the speakers are the main attraction for the event, Gregorio, Petros and Hapeman also spoke about other aspects also included in this series.

“We are having a culture show and a formal that is connecting with our series to give students who are from different parts of Africa the chance to showcase their culture on campus,” Hapeman said.

She said they are also going to have a lot of performances like African Renaissance.

Petros explained the importance of other hands-on events taking place throughout the weeks.

“When it comes to a culture there are some things at the end of the day you can’t present, some things you just have to immerse yourself in,” Petros said. “Whether it’s eating food from Western Africa or dancing to an Eastern Africa song, some things you just have to be immersed in.”

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