Africa Week brings culture to campus

By Wesley Robinson

One student organization is looking to bring a bit of culture from a distant land to UK with the university’s first Africa Week beginning today.

The weeklong series of events developed by UK’s African Student Association aims to bring more knowledge and understanding of African culture to campus, said Naitore Kiogora, who is president of the ASA.

Events kick off tonight with the “Taste of Africa” food-sampling event at 7 in the Grand Ballroom of UK’s Student Center. The tasting event will allow students, faculty and staff to “sample different aspects of Africa, not just food,” said Kiogora, an integrated strategic communications and marketing senior.

The Sabi Diri Dance Group will also perform at the event tonight and explain the significance of African culture in modern dance. In between the dances, UK students will model clothes from Africa in a fashion show.

Jesline Chandrakumar, a senior psychology major and model in the fashion show, said she thinks Africa Week will benefit UK by showcasing African culture and “opening the door for other cultures to expose their traditions.”

A dialogue titled “Africans vs. African-Americans” will take place Tuesday at 7 p.m., discussing points of tension and animosity between members of the two groups.

Eloho Ufomata, a Nigerian native and vice president of ASA, said she is excited to learn more and get insight into the gap between Africans and African-Americans while working toward unity.

Step Afrika, a stepping group that tours internationally, will perform and teach about stepping’s tradition and history. The performance starts Wednesday at 8 p.m. and is free for students with a valid I.D. Tickets for the general public are $10.

On Thursday, students can attend a free showing of “The Constant Gardener” at 10 p.m. in the Student Center’s Worsham Theater. The award-winning film looks critically at the motives of drug companies providing AIDS-fighting drugs.

Africa Week will end with a dance party at the Cats Den. The party starts at 9 p.m. Friday and will feature music popular in Africa, including hip-hop and reggae.

Co-sponsors of the week’s events include Diversity Engagement, the Late Night Film Series, the Office of International Affairs, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, Student Government and the Student Activities Board.

Mahjabeen Rafiuddin, director of UK student diversity engagement, said that while other organizations were involved with helping make Africa Week possible, the launch of the event is “an accomplishment for the students.”

Karen Slaymaker, director of international student services, said Africa Week “promotes cultural understanding between faculty, students and staff.” Slaymaker said she hopes it will lead to more events based on cultures that UK students are not normally exposed to.