Bringing African Culture to Embry-Riddle

Keenan Thungtrakul/Senior Reporter

Students were in for a treat Saturday night as the African Students Association (ASA) put on their fourth annual Coming to Africa culture show for the campus community to enjoy. The Avion has had the privilege of covering the show each time it is held. Hosted by returning MCs Sabelo (Sabi) Mathebula and Vanessa Onyulo, Coming to Africa gives attendees a taste of African culture that allows attendees gain a perspective into the uniqueness of Africa as a continent. The event coordinator, Pepe Sibandze, said that African culture is unique in that it is centered around nature, arts and crafts, folklore, religion, clothing, cuisine, music, and languages. Africans hold these cultural aspects to high standards, maintaining strong family traditions that sow respect between the younger generation and their elders. Sibandze says that it would come naturally to any African native to want to teach one’s culture to the next generation. In her mind, this is something that most African students can agree with. Passing on cultural values is a way of cultivating good social conduct and serves as a way for one to learn his or her value and history while reminding the person to pay respect to elders who have served as mentor figures. 

Coming to Africa is the largest on-campus event that the African Students’ Association puts on. Held annually, the mission of the show is to introduce the audience to all the major aspects of African culture: fashion, dances, traditions, etc. Sibandze mentions that the event caters to this mission through skits, dances, presentations, a fashion show, free African food, and other activities to name a few. The organization hopes that through hosting this show, the non-African community can get an idea the significance of Africa and what the ASA has to share with everyone. Students who are more deeply interested can check out ASA’s campus activities including social gatherings and other functions. Africa is a continent with rich potential shrouded in common myths. These myths were debunked as part of a presentation on how Africa is being looked at as a prime location for development and growth. While yes, Africa is a diverse place, Sibandze says to take that statement with a grain of salt. Africa has a myriad of opportunities for one to take advantage of entrepreneurial, travel, sustainable industry & development, etc. Africa is a continent with many countries, each of which has its own unique culture. Each country has its own specific elements: landscape, food, climate, people, the list goes on. Coming to Africa aims to bring a piece of these unique elements to the community so that people can gain a curiosity to explore and investigate what Africa is really like. Yes, Africa faces challenges, but a large amount of progress has been made, and much of the world’s economic future lies in Africa. 

Each running of Coming to Africa is unique in its own right. The best part of this year’s show, according to Sibandze, is the showcase of talents. It is not just the culture that’s showcased at this event. It is also a showcase of dedication and effort. Learning the traditional dances and recipes do not come naturally. It takes a great deal of commitment, leadership, sacrifice, and effort to be able to pull off such a great show every year. Sibandze looks beyond the students’ willingness to represent their culture as members of ASA to their professional development, stating that she is confident that she can count on her fellow members to support her and each other when the times are tough. ASA does not limit itself to Africa. The club welcomes every culture that wants to represent itself. Examples of this include Saudi Arabia and the United States in the Parade of Flags. 

There is a saying that food is the best way to experience a culture. Sibandze agrees. The traditional-ly prepared African buffet allows attendees to sample food from many parts of Africa all at once. For a student who hasn’t had a chance to participate in Coming to Africa or to learn about the ASA or Africa in general, the great food is an excellent way to start. Being able to taste the cuisine of several countries at once is a great bird’s-eye view into what Africa’s really like. 

The ASA would like to thank everyone that supported them in putting together the show and for everyone who attended. The Avion is proud to be a part of this event and to have the opportunity to showcase the talent of the ASA’s members as they seek to stay true to their cultural traditions while sharing them with the rest of the community. For those who would like to know more about what Coming to Africa and what the African Students Association can do for them, the ASA is available for conversation at erauasa@gmail.com or on ERAU Connection under “The African Students Association.”

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