Africa is believed to be the cradle of mankind, home to over 50 countries with the most breathtaking sceneries and is one of the most diverse continents in the world. It is no secret today that some of the greatest leaders in the world trace their origins back to Africa. The Africa Student Association (ASA) on campus creates a cohesive environment for students, primarily targeting African students as most are new to the American setting. The main aim of the ASA this year is to showcase African culture and get students, faculty and staff acquainted with the various customs from the great continent.
Stephen Tidjani, the president of the ASA, says that the image of the association has grown over the years, with numbers of involved students increasing, leading to the overall increase in activities in the association. The ASA had one of its largest and successful gatherings during last year’s Africa Night, where students got to showcase their talents making it a treat for everyone who was there to witness it.
The ASA always hosts a large barbecue at the beginning of every academic year to promote the organization and to get more students involved. According to Tidjani, this year’s barbecue fed about 200 students. Other ways the ASA promotes itself is via emails and posters all over campus, although reaching every African student on campus is difficult.
Tidjani, a senior majoring in Computer Information Technology, is very optimistic about the association this year. Tidjani was born in Togo, West Africa; however, both his parents are Nigerian.
“My family moved to the United States six years ago,” Tidjani says. “I completed high school in the U.S. and was in a community college before joining MSU, Mankato.”
Tidjani feels that being in America for a long period has given him an added advantage in governing the ASA, as he not only has a strong African background, but also a good understanding of the American society.
Tidjani’s interest in the ASA was immediately sparked during the first meeting he attended as, coincidentally, someone happened to be giving a presentation on his home country. He felt a sense of pride for the land he loves and was instantly hooked to the ASA. The ASA is under the International Student Association, which oversees international students on campus and tries its best to aid them in whatever aspect they may require assistance in. The ASA usually has meetings every Friday evening in the Centennial Student Union, with its executive board conducting their meeting earlier in the week.
The ASA faces a couple of challenges, one of them being attendance during meetings, as getting college students to always attend can be hard at times. One other challenge that Tidjani says all other RSO’s can bear witness to is financial struggles. The ASA nevertheless is always innovative and comes up with brilliant ideas to fundraise to keep the events of the association going.
One of the major benefits of the association is creating a connection between African students. It is easy for students born and raised in America to go home during breaks and spend time with their families, but for African students, and international students overall the case is not the same. Therefore, through the ASA and the ISA students can get to know each other and connect on a national, regional, or continental level, bringing the warm feeling of being back home into student’s hearts.
The ASA is currently involved in a project with Aqua Africa Movement that is doing some outstanding work in Africa to provide water. The ASA just completed a successful week of promoting the Aqua Africa Movement, where it had different activities throughout the entire week, from a full day without water to carrying a bucket of water for a given distance.
Everything that took place during that week was in one way or another related to the experiences that African children go through every day and was meant to inform people that water should not be taken for granted. Another event coming up associated with the ASA is the battle of the African Student Associations on Nov. 18, where different schools will be battling over who has the best ASA. This will be an exciting, educational, and fun event that anyone can attend.
The ASA continues to thrive in informing students about its presence and showcasing African culture throughout campus. The most magnificent thing about the Association being that it is not bound to African students alone but is open to the community.
The ASA intends to do greater things in the future and believes that not only bringing Africans together is important, but also creating a connection between students of all nations is something truly indispensable.