Cultural colors of the African palette

“Diverse People, One Voice” heralds the home page of the African Students Association (ASA) Web site. This message is being brought to life this week as ASA plays host to three entertaining – and informative – programs in which various African countries showcase their unique cultures and cuisines to the USF community. As part of ASA week, the organization will present African fashion and food at Taste and See, African music at Drum Magic 2, and the concluding entertainment at Africa Night 2008 as a part of their annual celebrations.

For more than 10 years, ASA has been expressing the interests of African students and promoting activities to spread awareness of the African socio-cultural and political values contribute to the development of the diverse community at USF. The organization also works toward creating a social network support system that helps express African students’ interests in the University and its immediate community.

“The organization’s main focus is to build unity amongst Africans here on campus and in the Tampa Bay community,” said Ijeoma Ekenta, ASA’s secretary. A sophomore from Nigeria majoring in international studies, Ekenta was born in Mali and has been here for eight years.

“This week’s events are intended to highlight the beauty of Africa. They bring together African cuisine, fashion and entertainment,” Ekenta said.

The Taste and See event – held tonight from 6 to 8 in Phyllis P. Marshall Center Room 106 – focuses on presenting the beauty of Africa. The characteristic fashion and cuisine of the continent will be exhibited through many forms of art during the show. Participants will get a chance to taste a variety of cuisines prepared by the parents of some ASA members. Participants may also indulge in exploring African fashion, another major part of the event, as they look at the distinctive apparel of various African countries.

Music lovers can experience and enjoy the musical beats of Africa as the festivities continue at Drum Magic 2, Thursday evening from 7 to 8:45 in the MLK Plaza.

“Celebration is a big part of the African culture. Drums are very important in our culture,” said Shan Huuda, a senior majoring in sociology and the president of ASA. “For the drum night, we have a performer coming to teach the guests how to make music with drums. He will be bringing over a hundred drums for the event. Everybody will sit in a huge circle and get to learn drum music and have fun.”

On Saturday evening from 6 to 11 in the Marshall Center Ballroom, the fifth annual Africa Night will provide the grand finale for the ASA’s week of celebrations. The signature feature of the evening will be a play put on by ASA members to discuss the controversies in Africa, but with a humorous twist. The event brings to light many issues such as inter-African conflicts and the relationships between Africans and the African diaspora in the U.S.

“Our theme is unity. Issues of segregation in Africa and the stereotypes that cause such segregation are important, and our skit will be presenting these in a unique and informative way,” Huuda said.

Students interested in becoming a part of ASA may e-mail Huuda at for additional information or locate the group via Blackboard. Students can also join the organization’s Facebook group to stay updated on events, auditions and productions. The organization’s Web site is