Annual ASA Event Celebrates African Culture

The Celebration of Africa, hosted by the African Student Association, celebrated the cultural diversity of Africa and informed students of African traditions and facts through various activities, such as a general knowledge quiz, spoken word, a martial arts performance, African traditional dance, painting performance, speeches and fashion shows. This event was held on May 14 in the Price Center West Ballroom.

Co-chair of African Students Association Blessing Adeleke told the UCSD Guardian that the main purpose of the event was to inform students of diverse African cultures and promote cultural interactions among students.

“The goal was to bring students from all different types of culture to learn about Africa. Just coming here and celebrating what Africa is about, how there are different types of African-looking people,” Adeleke said. “There’s different shape. There’s different hue. Tall, short, we are just like everyone else and wanted to share our culture with everyone else.”

The event started off with a trivia activity, asking general knowledge questions about Africa to the audience members. Thurgood Marshall College junior Monica Sias described her experience at the event as being educational.

“[From] the trivia they had at the beginning, I learned some new things,” Sias said. “I also learned about new foods. I also learned about [African] dances, different cultures of Africa and attires of Africa.”

The Celebration of Africa also presented a combination of visual and auditory entertainment through a performance of capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that was originally formed by African slaves, which involves self-defense, combat, dance-like expression, acrobatics and music.

Adeleke stated that unlike the events of previous years, this year’s Celebration of Africa focused more on exposing diversity of African culture by including symbolic performances from different regions with African roots.

“One thing we wanted to do was [share] our culture to show that there’s diversity in Africa,” Adeleke said. “I think a lot of people don’t realize that Africa is the most diverse continent, so we showed more diversity this year.”

Toward the end of the event Jeremy Prestholdt, a history professor at UCSD, gave a formal speech, describing how appreciation of African cultures and traditions can potentially make better communities in places elsewhere.

“If all the countries in the world were like Africa, we would have a much better place to live,” Prestholdt said. “The western countries surely have a lot to learn from African cultures.”

According to UCSD Student Research and Information, as of 2014, the undergraduate enrollment rate of African-American students is approximately 2 percent.

Sias expressed that the event carried an important role in preserving African culture at the campus where the enrollment rate of African Americans is the second lowest, following the lowest enrollment rate of Native Americans.

“Especially for cultures that are not so well understood, I thought this was a very important educational experience for a lot of people who might not be too familiar with African culture,” Sias said. “I think it’s definitely something to learn more about because I think in the coming years, we are going to see more and more African cultures, people from African cultures [and] different countries coming to UCSD.”