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Africa Week set to begin today

Justin Tardiff | Monday, April 3, 2006

Created to educate Notre Dame students about the political and economic struggles of the African continent, Africa Week 2006 kicks off today with a full schedule of speakers and cultural events.

This is the second year for Africa Week, which is put on by Notre Dame’s African Faith and Justice Network along with the African Student Association. The African Faith and Justice Network was formed last spring with the goal of raising money for African causes.

“We think there is an interest among students for these issues, but not a lot of places for students to learn about them,” said Laura Feeney, co-president and co-founder of the African Faith and Justice Network.

Feeney highlighted the Hunger Banquet for Famine in East Africa and “Mourning a Genocide and Stopping One- Rwanda and Darfur” – the two events of Africa Week she thought would be most vital in addressing the crisis in Africa to students.

The Hunger Banquet will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Coleman Morse Lounge. Attendees are asked to make a $5 donation, and proceeds from the banquet will go directly to Oxfam famine relief efforts in East Africa.

The other keynote event, “Mourning Genocide and Stopping One,” will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Center for Social Concerns Coffeehouse. The lecture will mark the 12th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide and will address its national and international consequences. It will also focus on the current genocide in Darfur and what steps can be taken to stop it.

In addition to these events, Thomas Mambro, president of the African Student Association, highlighted “Burudika,” a night of African style performances, as an important and entertaining cultural event.

The African Student Association is organizing the show that will feature three professional performances, and it will begin at 7 p.m. Friday in the Hesburgh Library Auditorium.

Other events during the week include a special Africa Mass in Dillon Hall Chapel and lectures featuring topics such as trade policies and self-determination in Africa.

Sponsors of Africa Week are the Center for Social Concerns, Student Government, the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Department of Africana Studies, the Office of the President, Student Activities, Multicultural Student Programs and Services,

the College of Arts and Letters, the Mendoza College of Business and International Students Services and Activities.

Feeney said the week is important to Notre Dame and its students because of its Catholic character.

“One of the reasons for the week is the fact Catholic bishops called Americans to stand in solidarity with Africa,” Feeney said.

“It doesn’t matter if it is far away or if they have different backgrounds – they are still fellow Catholics and fellow people. There are many Catholics, as well as others, in dire situations that we need to do something about,” she added.

Feeney said Americans have the power to change their government’s policies toward Africa and to demand more assistance.

“We have the ability to lobby our government to help people out of poverty and to stop wars,” she said.