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Africa week now underway at ND

Irena Zajickova | Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The African Student Association’s (ASA) annual Africa week kicked off yesterday and will continue until Sunday.

The ASA, the Africa Faith and Justice Network and the Kellogg Institute’s Ford Program are sponsoring this year’s event.

Brigitte Githinji, ASA’s president, said the goal of the weeklong series of events is to broaden and enhance the Notre Dame community’s perception of Africa.

“The event’s goal is to teach people about Africa because I think the information they have is kind of skewed,” Githinji said. “People make assumptions, and what our club does is inform them that there is progress there; it’s not just poverty and disease. We try to give them a more well-rounded view.”

Africa Week is the ASA’s signature event, and the group spends all year organizing it.

“We work all year trying to think of ideas for the week. We start planning the year before and we’re just constantly planning,” Githinji said. “It’s a group effort and the whole club works together in planning it. We form different committees which then come together to work on each day’s event.”

Proceeds from the week’s events will go towards the Battery Operated System for Community Outreach Uganda Relief Project – specifically, to former child soldiers in the Lacor Internally Displaced Persons camp in Northern Uganda.

Profits made throughout the week will go towards providing costumes and theatrical equipment for the children, who put on plays and performances as a way of sharing their stories with others.

The events began yesterday with African food in LaFortune’s Dooley Room and a screening of the Academy Award-winning movie “Tsotsi” in the Mongomery Auditorium.

Today, two lectures will take place. The first, titled By the Fireside, will discuss several topics, including the experiences of a Kenyan lawyer and reconciliation in Burundi. The lecture begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Oak Room of South Dining Hall.

At 7:30 p.m. in the Coleman-Morse student lounge, a presentation called The Cost of the Crisis: The Outlook for International Development will examine how the economic crisis affects the developing world.

On Thursday, a panel discussion on United States-Africa relations will take place at 7 p.m. in the Notre Dame room in LaFortune.

Africa Night begins on Friday at 8 p.m. on the Fieldhouse Mall, and features performances and traditional food.

The week concludes with an African celebration mass at 10 p.m. on Sunday in the Pangborn Hall chapel.

Additionally, Africa week t-shirts will be sold at every event for $10 each.

Githinji said she hopes that Africa week will help students understand Africa is more than what they see on the news.

“The ASA works to show that Africa is more than poverty, more than disease, more than what you see on the Discovery Channel,” she said. “You just need to look at the big picture. That’s what this week does.”