Student organization shares beauty of African culture

The African Student Association officers take a quick break from their weekly meeting to pose for a photo. Baylee VerSteeg | Multimedia Journalist

By Julia Vergara | Staff Writer

The Baylor African Student Association (ASA) has a goal to educate people about the beauty of Africa, as well as bring awareness to what can be done to help the continent.

Houston sophomore and ASA Dance Chair Alice Aladume said the main purpose of ASA is to demystify African culture.

“You know, people think Africa is just huts and everyone is poor,” Aladume said. “Well, of course, every continent or country has its poor parts, has things that need to be taken care of — just like Africa. But there are the beautiful parts and I feel like that’s what we’re about.”

Houston senior and President of ASA Amara Okpalo said Africa is a continent comprised of 54 beautiful countries filled with people who find joy in life no matter what is going on around them. Embracing the beauty of Africa through art, music, history, food and more is not only important to her but all ASA members as well.

In order to share African culture, Aladume said they have a lot of discussion-based meetings at ASA where they tell different facts about Africa and push awareness of things that are going on in the continent.

Aladume — who is originally from Nigeria — said even though ASA members do not experience what is happening in Africa for themselves, it is still important to care about it as an organization, which is why they use meetings to keep up to date on the continent’s current events.

“It’s like if we don’t experience it for ourselves, it’s like it’s not really happening so we don’t really promote it and care about it like I feel like we should,” Aladume said. “So as an organization, we try to push awareness of things that are going on in the continent of Africa.”

The Baylor organization also partners with ASA organizations from other Texas colleges such as Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Texas State, the University of Texas, University of Houston and more, Aladume said.

One event coming up is the second annual Baylor ASA Fashion Show, called “A Night in Africa: Vol 2,” which will take place 6 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Student Union Building (SUB) in the Barfield Drawing Room. Aladume said this event will show off fashion of African culture, as well as how African culture influences U.S. fashion. The University of Texas acapella group Voices of Africa will be performing, as well as Texas Women’s University’s ASA Dance Team.

“That’s just a very collaborative effort,” Aladume said. “We’re going to try to just showcase a lot of African culture and there will be African cuisine there and different stuff like that.”

In addition to sharing the beauty of Africa, ASA also works on helping the continent.

According to Okpalo, all proceeds from the Baylor ASA Fashion Show will be going to the Water Project — a philanthropy they have been involved with for almost four years. They help the organization with its goal of bringing clean, safe and reliable water to Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Through the help of the Water Project, we have aided in building and maintaining a well that has provided hope to hundreds that enable several communities a chance at a better quality of life,” Okpalo said. “We can’t imagine life without clean, drinkable water, but that is not accessible to many overseas.”

Last semester, Aladume said Baylor ASA got Texas State ASA to help support and raise more money for the project. Afterward, they actually received a letter from the Water Project, along with a video that showed them an update on the well.

“I feel like if you’re blessed, you’re blessed to be a blessing,” Aladume said. “Because I’m blessed, I should take my blessing and utilize it to somehow help whatever’s going on in my home country [Nigeria].”

ASA meetings are held 6 p.m. every other Monday at Morrison 100, Aladume said, and students do not have to be African to join.

“I just want to say that everyone is welcome,” Aladume said. “It doesn’t matter your background and every person, any color — you’re welcome to come to our meetings.”