A taste of Africa

Co-written by: Taylor Harbison

The Organization of African students (OAS) brought a taste of their homeland to WCU this week.

On April 19, as a kick-off to their organization, the OAS hosted “Taste of Africa.” This event allowed students to sample dishes from different countries such as plantains, chin chin, meat pies and puff puffs. Held on the second floor of the UC, students were able to interact with the members, sample food, learn about Africa and most importantly – dance.

OAS is dedicated to promoting cultural, historical, political and economic awareness about the African continent, its people and its culture.

This organization was created by Chioma Opara, a sophomore at WCU that felt the need to create a space where people that come from African backgrounds could feel understood, thus she created OAS.

Growing up Opara states ‘It took me a while to embrace my culture in America due to the stereotypical ideas people had about Africa as a whole, so when I finally embraced it, I wanted others to see what made me love my culture and people… It’s no longer just an idea, it is a mission!’

There are currently 12 members in OAS, they are natives of Nigeria, Ghana, Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Sudan, Togo and even Jamaica. The group welcomes anyone interested to join, membership is not limited to your country of origin.

Opara, OAS President says that the OAS Executive Board is made up of enthusiastic individuals excited to spread awareness of their culture to the WCU community through food, dance, round table discussions and more. The executive board includes Vice President Brian Nwokolo,  Secretary Madiaya Davis, Treasurer Kelly Lifwatila and Public Relations Chair Kimberly Occancey. Majority of which Opara says knew each other, ut the idea to bring OAS to WCU brung them  much closer.

“As the OAS grows, we hope to strengthen the unity in the organization and the community surrounding the organization,” said Opara.

Opara is a native of Nigeria who moved to the United States in 2010. She saw that there was a need for fellowship among African students on campus; a space where people that come from African backgrounds could feel understood.

“I started this organization to promote the African culture and also create a second family away from my normal home,” said Opara.

The university has, in recent years, adopted an African theme in an effort to promote diversity and cultural awareness, however, the students of this organization are adamant about making “the African theme” and cultural sensitivity something that lasts year round.