By Sydnie Pennington | The Duquesne Duke
The Center for African Studies treated students and faculty to a cultural immersion experience during the inaugural “Africa Week.”
The week’s events included educational opportunities for those who wanted to learn more about the many countries and customs of Africa, as well as traditional food and entertainment.
Director of the Center for African Studies, Gerald Boodoo, said Africa Week, “is meant to make the community conscientious [of African culture] in an attractive, informal way.”
Africa Week began Tuesday evening with a panel discussion between former Ambassador to the Central African Republic Dan Simpson, Carnegie Mellon University professor Mame-Fatou Niang and La Roche College professor Joshua Forrest.
The panel discussed relations between the United States and Africa and the role U.S. policy should play in Africa.
The Rev. Greg Olikenyi, a theology professor at Duquesne and Nigerian native, called the panel “well balanced.”
“It was nice to have Mame-Fatou Niang on the panel because she offered insight on what contemporary life in Africa is like, being from there.”
On Wednesday, Africa week continued with “Taste of Africa.” Attendees had the opportunity to try different foods from a variety of regions in Africa.
“We tend to have a very ‘Lion King’ image of Africa, and a stereotypical view of Africa and Africans,” Boodoo said. “I think it is good for us to raise questions about that to enhance our understandings of their culture.”
Thursday evening, the African Students Union will be performing in a play titled Motherland as well as other “cultural performances,” including a fashion show. Boodoo said attendees to this event should expect to see different fashions currently popular in Africa.
Boodoo said stereotypes of Africa can be broken down by establishing connections between the Duquesne community and Africans.
“We don’t encounter Africans everyday, and part of Africa Week is to have those encounters,” he said.
Duquesne has a rich history of interaction with Africa due to being a Spiritan university. The Spiritan order of Catholic priests did a large amount of evangelization in Africa during the last two centuries and continues to have a strong connection with the continent.
“This ties in well with Duquesne. It makes learning about Africa not just a choice among choices, but a part of Duquesne,” Boodoo said.