Students celebrate cultures at Pan-African Festival


From the “How to be a (Revolutionary) Real One Roundtable discussion Saturday, April 13. (Left to Right): Dr. Asantewa Sunni-Ali, Emanuel Jackson, Aiyisha Obafemi,Shemariah Arki, Lumumba Akinwole-Bandele and Mwatabu Okantah. In Oscar Ritchie hall at the Pan African Festival.

Jada Miles

The Center of Pan-African Culture and the Department of Pan-African Studies hosted their annual Pan-African Festival this weekend. The festival started on April 11 and ended on April 13.

“It’s a festival that celebrates Pan-African culture, as well as arts, music, history and current events,” said Asantewa Sunni-Ali, the director of the Center of Pan-African Culture. “So it’s a celebration as well as education.”

The festival included multiple events like theater performances, gallery exhibits, workshops and vendor’s markets over the span of the three days.

“Whenever I’m here, whenever I’m amongst the Pan-African studies department I’m around my family.” said De’Von Gomez, a senior fashion merchandising major.

During one of the workshops, “Businessing while Black: Authenticity in the Music and Entertainment Industries” the speaker, Aiyisha Obafemi told attendees to be themselves in the workplace and to not compromise who they are.

“Although the focus was authenticity in the music industry, it wasn’t limited,” said Alyssa Cottrill, a sophomore pre-med biology major. “I could take that advice and use that in my own life.”

The discussion in the workshop also touched on problems people of color face in the workplace.

“There were a lot of concerns that other people had that I have never considered for myself, like my hair.” Cottrill said. “It’s nice to be exposed to and challenged to think about things that I would never think about on my own.”

The festival also had a vendor’s marketplace where different businesses sold clothing and other items.

“You have sculptures out here, you have t-shirts, full garments, shoes, body wash there’s so many different things to sell.” Gomez said. “It’s one thing to teach people about a culture and celebrate it, but it’s another thing to bring things that are the culture. As a fashion merchandising student, I love to see the product of the culture, the creativity of the culture.”

On Friday, there was a gallery exhibit that showcased “Seedz of Revolution” and other projects.

“It exemplifies a lot of work that’s been done over the past year and a half.” Sunni-Ali said. “It’s one thing to do the work but it’s another to be able to celebrate it and make it legible for others.”

All the events were held in Oscar Ritchie Hall on campus.

“We are about highlighting, celebrating and educating Pan-African culture.” Sunni-Ali said. “We invite everyone to participate in that celebration, as well as learn.”

Jada Miles covers the dean of students and diversity. Contact her at [email protected].