Students celebrate and learn about Africa fashion on the Ankara Day.

Courtesy of Tireniolu Onabajo

Students celebrate and learn about Africa fashion on the Ankara Day.

March 9, 2018

Annual Africa Week Celebrates Continent’s Culture Through Fashion, Film and Entrepreneurial Inspiration

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This week, several student organizations put on a series of events as part of Cornell’s annual Africa Week, a celebration of culture that draws a diverse audience from the campus diaspora.

The opening ceremony kicked off Monday with pizza, wings and Africa-themed jeopardy.

Nana Britwum ’18, co-president of Ghanaians at Cornell, attested to Africa Week’s ability to bring together people from diverse African backgrounds.

“I think it does attract a very diverse crowd,” Britwum said. “I love introducing new people to the culture, food, history, I guess the fun of the continent … I think it’s great that we do things like this so people know we are present.”

Wednesday’s Ankara Day was planned to take place on the Arts Quad, but was curtailed by a bout of Ithaca’s fickle weather. Ankara is a common clothing material used in African garb, often with visually striking patterns and bright colors.

“Ankara Day is about African fabric and African fashion,” said Tireniolu Onabajo ’19, president of the Coalition of Pan-African Scholars, who is also a lead organizer for the Afrik! Fashion show on March 23rd, which will feature designers and fashion from all corners of the diaspora.

“Diverse is a good word to describe it, because the cultures of Africa are multiple and different, and there is a common thread, but there are definitely important distinctions which make the continent just more beautiful,” Onabajo told The Sun.

March 6th, Ghana’s independence day, featured a keynote speech from Jeph Acheampong, a  Ghanaian entrepreneur and founder of Blossom Academy. The academy’s goal is to help unemployed Ghanaian college graduates to develop skills and launch meaningful careers in data science.

Acheampong told The Sun that he was asked to present on Ghana’s post-independence journey “while highlighting the role that young people can play in the African Development story.”

In his address, Acheampong called on Cornell’s Ghanaian and African students to consider their role in shaping Africa’s future. “The idea is realizing that [students] at Cornell have so much opportunity and resources in their ecosystem,” Acheampong said.

Glenn Asuo-Asante ’21, an international student from Ghana, said he felt a strong connection to the address and that he plans to return home after graduation.

“Africa may be behind in the world so it would be good to take all this knowledge we are getting from here, all the exposure, and go back and develop our countries,” Asuo-Asante said.