09/06/05 - Reinhardt Invites The Community To Enjoy "The Year Of Africa"
College in Waleska, Ga., is continuing its "Year of" series with a
focus on Africa. From September 2005 to April of 2006, the small United
Methodist College in northwestern Cherokee County will host a variety of
programs focusing on African peoples, cultures, geography and history,
and the public is invited to take part.
The College's African Street Festival, to be held Sept. 20 from 11
a.m. to 6 p.m., will feature singing and dancing performances, but its
educational impact makes it different from many such events, said Dr.
Elizabeth Garbrah-Aidoo, an assistant professor of political science at
Reinhardt and the chair of the Year of Africa committee. "Reinhardt's
five schools, as well as student organizations such as the Model UN of
Reinhardt, will host tables which will illustrate the diversity and
richness of the African culture. For example, the School of Mathematics
and Sciences will have a coffee demonstration, the Price School of
Education will have participants make masks of who they really are, and
the School of Communication Arts and Music will have all kinds of fun
things about the Adinkra symbolism of the Ashantis in Ghana. Visitors
can also enjoy a taste of African cuisine at the Gordy Dining Hall
As a native of Ghana, Garbrah-Aidoo brings a unique perspective
to the effort. "Since I came to the U.S. 33 years ago, I have not seen
much change in the way most Americans perceive Africa," Garbrah-Aidoo
said. "Most Americans think of Africa as a small country made of jungles
with wild animals. The Year of Africa will show a continent that is
much bigger than the U.S. and consists of more than 50 countries that
are not united and have respective sovereignty to rule themselves. Even
though there are some similarities in the African culture, such as
spirituality, respect and integrity, there are also vast differences in
the country, especially in physical geography. Deserts occupy a larger
area than jungle, and the people speak many different languages. Also,
the negative aftereffects of colonization such as depleted resources,
corruption that is aided and abetted by the Western world, and public
health problems such as war, AIDS and famine, are still major problems.
An understanding of these complicated issues may encourage others to
assist in finding solutions to these challenges and to not believe
everything that the media presents about the area."
Dr. Pamela S. Wilson, associate professor of communication and
director of international studies at Reinhardt, has led the committees
overseeing the "Year of" efforts for the past two years. "We started
with the Americas in 2003-04, close to home but offering a surprising
variety of cultures for us to explore and learn about," Wilson said.
"The following year we focused on Asia, and this year is Africa. Africa
is a critically important continent and group of nations for us to
explore, and the Year of Africa provides us with a wide range of
opportunities for international learning in every discipline, from
sociology, history and business to education, biology and geology. In
addition to its role in human history, African people have contributed
to the American culture in immeasurable ways, and our history is
inextricably woven into that of many African nations."
Garbrah-Aidoo and Wilson are enthusiastic about welcoming the
community to the College's Year of Africa events. "Our faculty and staff
have prepared a very special array of activities and events for our
students that will be of interest to the larger community," Wilson said.
"These speakers, performances and events are not readily accessible in
our community on a regular basis, so we hope that by inviting the
public, we can provide an educational service to the surrounding
community," she said.