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10/11/05 - Community Invited To "The African Story" Roundtable At Reinhardt College On October 20

Year of Africa logoReinhardt College in Waleska, Ga., is inviting the community to learn more about Africa by taking part in "The African Story" Roundtable on Oct. 20, 2005, from 2:30- 5 p.m. The event will be held on the Reinhardt campus in the Funk Heritage Center, and the public is invited to attend free of charge.

The roundtable is the third major event in the College's Year of Africa, a year-long emphasis on African peoples, cultures, geographies, history and issues. Year of Africa Steering Committee Chair Dr. Elizabeth Garbrah- Aidoo is confident the audience will enjoy the five diverse and dynamic speakers. "Through this presentation, participants will learn of the rich contributions that Africa has provided the world," she said. "Hopefully, they will leave with a better understanding and an appreciation of the positive aspects of diversity and of Africa as a whole"

Soumaya Khalifa, the founder and executive director of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta, will give an overview of Islam. She was born in Egypt and moved to Texas as a pre-teen with her parents. With a bachelor's degree in chemistry and an MBA, she is a human resources manager for an Atlanta Fortune 100 company, and an experienced speaker and community activist.

Dr. Abdullahi An-Naï'im will discuss "African Constitutionalism." A law professor at Emory University, he holds numerous advanced degrees including a doctorate in law from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He served as Executive Director of Human Rights Watch/Africa 1993-95, before coming to Atlanta. In addition to editing eight books dealing with human rights and religion in Africa and the Arab world, he wrote Toward an Islamic Reformation: Civil liberties, human rights and international law and has published some 50 articles and book chapters on human rights, constitutionalism, Islamic law and politics.

Dr. Samuel Abaidoo, an academic department chair at Kennesaw State University, has emphasized environmental sociology, social change, technology and society, and urban/suburban sociology in his teaching, research, and publications. On the panel, he will address how important elements of African culture have changed as the country has grown more modern. "Driven by different imperatives, the sense of community, filial piety, mutual filial responsibilities in emerging Africa are being transformed, some may argue, being eroded," he said. "In their place individualized self-interested tendencies are emerging, especially in the rapidly expanding urban communities."

Ruth O'Toole will provide a very personal view of a public political struggle as she addresses "Colonial Rhodesia to Independent Zimbabwe: A Missionary Child's Perspective."  "Zimbabwe is a country that has experienced much change and upheaval in the last forty years," she said. "During those years, marked by a brutal civil war, the deconstruction of colonialism, and the first steps toward a true democracy, I had a worm's eye view through the unique lens of a 'missionary kid.' I found myself living with and between two opposing factions: the white, minority culture, desperate to hold onto their tenuous grip of power; and the majority blacks, seeking to free themselves of white rule, all while belonging to neither entity."

Mohamed Camara, a Reinhardt senior, will conclude the event as he speaks from personal experience. His remarks will focus on ethnocentrism, the "habitual disposition to judge foreign people(s) according to one's own culture" from a personal perspective, he said. He believes that the average American views the world in the very ethnocentric way. "The reason I choose to talk about the American being ethnocentric is because I've been exposed to this the most during my young adulthood," he said. "I will discuss factual experiences that I've encountered. I will briefly touch on the perspective of an outsider looking in and hopefully present some persuasive ideas and advice to encourage people to support and embrace diversity and not promote prejudice."

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