African Awareness Week offers glimpse of culture

African students man a booth promoting their heritage last week. From left

With any luck, the students of Northern Kentucky University will be dancing to the beat of African music on the plaza outside the University Center on Friday.

That’s how Lovingson Mtongwiza envisions the finale of the first African Awareness Week at NKU.

Students from the African Student Union have three days of activities planned to teach people about the cultural wealth of the African continent and generally encourage the spirit of multiculturalism.

Friday will feature a repeat of Monday’s activities that will include African drumming, exhibition tables with African artifacts and clothing and a fact sheet to help people better understand the African culture.

“We feel there are a lot of misconceptions that people have about Africa,” said Mtongwiza. “We came up with a fact sheet to say some of the things we think people need to be aware of.”

Mtongwiza said one of the things people believe about Africans is that they live with animals. “There are urban and rural settings just like the U.S.,” Mtongwiza explained. “Animals live in their area and people live in their area.”

The sheet will also detail some of the “natural riches” of the continent, such as Victoria Falls, the worlds largest water fall and the seventh natural wonder of the world.

On Wednesday the group will sponsor a campus cleanup and will show African music videos from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Otto Budig Theater in the University Center. It is hoped these videos will inspire people to show up Friday for dancing on the plaza.

“We want to see how much interest that will generate,” said Mtongwiza. “If that generates enough interest we’ll push WNTV next semester to show African movies.”

Along with the African music and drumming there will also be Caribbean music. Mtongwiza explained, “The Caribbean students share the same roots with us. They do identify with us.”

Food and snacks will be provided free on Monday and Friday but unfortunately they will not be authentic African food. Mtongwiza said there was just not enough time to provide this.

What they do hope to provide is a Friday afternoon of fun and relaxation as the students start their weekend.

Overall, Mtongwiza hopes the activities will educate, entertain and promote diversity in the school.

“It’s going to be something big,” grinned Mtongwiza.