South Africa celebrates African Heritage Day on Sept. 24th, and this year Umoja decided to make it a week-long campus event filled with food, giveaways, and learning about African culture.
The event offered some traditional Ghanaian food, including a spicy rice dish called Jollof rice, curry fried rice, and fried chicken. J.P. Wiafe, Umoja’s project assistant, brought this in order to thank those that helped kick off their first African Heritage Week celebration.
During Tuesday’s events, students and staff were challenged to name an African country, its capital, describe the country’s flag, and give two other facts in order to win a Dashiki shipped from Africa.
The Dashiki is a long, colorful shirt with beautiful patterns that is worn during occasions like births and weddings.
Umoja staff member, Micaiah Statterwhite, was determined to walk around campus and bring people in to learn more about the African culture, and what Umoja has to offer, because “research shows that cultural experiences help students succeed.”
At first the program was used as a study hall, and after leadership changed, Wiafe wanted to encourage students to use the center and get involved with the program.
Umoja, meaning unity in Kiswahili, is a state-wide program that includes workshops, counseling, tutoring, and mentoring. The center has a computer lab with printing and test materials, which explains why many students are always walking in and out.
He stated that when he was a student, there wasn’t a program like this. Statterwhite describes being apart of Umoja as “fun and interesting.” He helps students with assistance, in school and other aspects of their lives.
Everyone is very welcoming and they consider themselves a big family. Their number one principle is “our community supports the academic success of all students.”
Overall, Wiafe was happy to show off his culture to influence others to be proud of where they came from and was pleased with the turnout.
Wiafe hopes to bring even better ideas for next year’s African Heritage Week to draw an even bigger turnout.
Umoja’s next event is a discussion on homophobia and transphobia in the black community, called #NOHOMO, that will be held on Thursday, Sept. 28th at 1pm.
For more information about Umoja, please visit their website.