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Mother Africa

News Feature

News & Events

March 14, 2012

African Women will be the focus of the fifth annual Africa Awareness Week, to be held on campus beginning Monday.

This year's schedule features nearly five full days and nights of activities, including lectures, music and dance performances, an extensive film series, student panel discussions, African food, demonstrations and a lesson on speaking Swahili.

The 2012 programming features the most events in the series' history.

In keeping with this year's theme, organizers Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Louise Badiane, coordinator of the university's African Studies Program, and Dr. Sandra Faiman-Silva, professor of anthropology, have included in this year's program a keynote lecture, several films and a host of events examining the role women play in Africa today.

"This year's theme was chosen to highlight the often underestimated contributions of African women in the development of African societies," Dr. Badiane said. "African women are the backbone of their families and communities as they undisputedly participate in both the formal and informal economic sector. African women are also bridging the gender gap that negatively affected them for many years in the areas of education, politics, health, law and other sectors of development.

"I hope this event will help the BSU community understand the crucial roles of African women in the 21st century," she added.

Keynote speaker Pearl T. Robinson, a filmmaker and activist, will deliver her lecture, "African Muslim Women and Civic Islam."

Meanwhile, films running throughout the week will include "Ladies First: Rwanda," "The Right to Femininity" and "Tribal Wives." A student-sponsored event that caps Monday's activities called, "My Kind of Woman," is being billed as an "empowering women show."

No matter the theme, Dr. Faiman-Silva said the overarching goal of Africa Awareness Week remains the same.

"We just want to keep Africa on the map of our understanding," she said. "It's an area of the world that is often overlooked and exotic-ized. This is an effort to bring knowledge about Africa at the forefront."

Student participation is a key part of this year's event. Student organizations Refined Movement, the Africa Student Association, Sister Scholars, the Cape Verdean Student Association, and the Student Government Association, have allowed for the addition of an African bazaar and an African dance workshop to this year's schedule, as well as other events.

On Friday, BSU's relatively large contingent of native African students will get a chance to share their experiences in a forum titled, "Let's Talk." It's always a highlight of the event, Dr. Faiman-Silva said.

"We get to hear the students tell their experiences in their own voices," she said. "In previous years it's been a very impressive event."

While Africa has its well-documented troubles, the organizers say that Africa Awareness Week seeks to look at the progress and positive developments the continent has made.

"It's not all about poverty and disease, and these are important themes we try to address," Dr. Faiman-Silva said.

Africa Awareness Week runs from March 19-23. All events are free and open to the public. See the attached brochure for the full list of activities.

African Awareness Week 2012 is sponsored by African Studies, Anthropology, Middle East Studies, Women's and Gender Studies, Foreign Languages, Music and Dance, and Conference and Event Services. (Story by John Winters, G'11, University Advancement, with file photos)

Full schedule of African Awareness Week 2012
Above and below are scenes from past African Awareness Weeks

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