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The idea of a continent being a country is not something completely unheard of, but the assumption that Africa, one of the largest continents in the world is actually a country is one that has been prevalent for many years.

A discussion  was held to break this stigma by having a number of panelists that represented different parts of Africa as well as those who had visited Africa in the past.

Tekle Wanorie, a professor in the business department, talked about some of the cultural differences between the United States and his home country of Ethiopia.

“If you want to know Africa, I highly recommend that you travel there and you will notice how different the culture is there,” Wanorie said in the panel. “One thing that makes it unique is the fact that Ethiopia has 13 months every year, with that thirteenth month only being 5 days long.”

Senior human services major David Anzures-Lopez was interested in the topic and was glad to support his friends.

“I wanted to attend this lecture to not only support my friends who were putting on the actual event, the African Student Organization,” Anzures-Lopez said. “But to also expand my knowledge surrounding different countries.”

The topics of discussion ranged from the views of life in America to how Americans view life in Africa. The discussion which lasted for an hour and a half gave people information they needed to make a clear image of what life is actually like in Africa.

Communication and mass media professor Bayo Joachim talked about how people tend to over exaggerate about Africa.

“People tend to focus on the things that are shown to us and it often results in over exaggerations becoming commonplace,” Joachim said in the panel. “Africa is such a diverse place that sometimes things like what we see on television is characteristic of all of Africa but it is only evident in a few small places.”

Anzures-Lopez felt this discussion was something of great importance and things that students need to learn about.

“Not only do we have a good amount of international African students attending Northwest, I think that Africa in general has a negative stigma attached to it that needs to be dispelled,” Anzures-Lopez said. “I want everyone to challenge their views when it comes to Africa. Africa as a continent is extremely nuanced and diverse in many aspects, such as art, cuisine, fashion, language and culture etcetera. Africa has a lot to offer and more people should be aware of it.”

Junior psychology and human services major Asma Hassan is from Sudan and wanted to learn more about the continent of Africa.

“I wanted to attend because I’m from Sudan and I wanted to expand my knowledge on Africa and not just the place I’m from,” Hassan said. “I heard about it through our inclusion representatives and international representatives report during a Student Senate meeting.”

Joachim wanted people to understand how diverse the region he grew up in was where different races could be found just around the block.

“There are so many diverse languages in Nigeria and it is sometimes difficult to find someone that speaks the same language as you,” Joachim said. “It was easier to speak English and it is the same thing throughout all of Africa and it just goes to show how diverse the area can be.”

Hassan wanted people to leave with a challenge to develop a greater understanding of Africa and what it is all about.

“I challenge everyone to expand their knowledge on Africa. There are multiple cultures within Africa that do not correlate with each other,” Hassan said. “To believe that all Africans have the same practices, religions, languages and values is to comply with ignorance. Africa is a continent filled with love, beauty and various cultures. Just ask an African about Africa.”

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