Africa Day Celebrates African Culture and Heritage

By Leyat Samson, SCHS Junior
March 13, 2023

On December 10th, Leyat Samson, a Junior at South County High School, organized "Africa Day," an event where students were invited to come and celebrate African culture and heritage. The event worked in collaboration with South County’s Ethiopian Eritrean Student Association and Yene Ethiopia. Yene Ethiopia is an organization that connects youth Ethiopian-American diaspora to their cultural heritage through group tours and volunteering opportunities around Ethiopia. The event aimed to raise funds and awareness for Yene Ethiopia but also to empower students to become active agents of change in their respective communities. "Africa Day" featured guest speakers who delved into the topic of pan-Africanism and youth engagement, as well as a student - led discussion panel incorporated to provide students with the opportunity to explore the potential of creating their own projects. In addition to the educational segments of the event, there was also an entertainment portion. For this segment there was a fashion show and dance performance made by the South County Ethiopian-Eritrean dance team. Ms. Samson worked to include students in the preparation for the event by generating more than 100 student volunteers to help sell food and tickets, walk for the fashion show, and greet guests at the door. 

According to Leyat, the objective of the event was to inspire youth to be more informed and aware of the nuances of African history and politics which can combat the misrepresentation of African countries in Western media, portraying them as backwards and uncivilized. She stated the following: “This is often far from the truth, as many of these countries have rich histories and cultures that have contributed to the advancements we see all over the world today. Although many African countries are currently struggling with conflicts like civil wars and poverty, it is important to realize that they have complex political and social systems that have been shaped by years of historical colonialism and globalization. Because of this, it is very important for media representation to be more nuanced and accurate in order to combat these harmful stereotypes and to give a more complete picture of these countries and the conflicts they struggle with.”

A main goal for Africa Day was for it to be a catalyst to inspire students to take proactive steps in making a positive impact within their own communities. Leyat concluded, “By educating and empowering the next generation of world’s leaders through events like this, we can move towards a brighter future for Africa where we give it the representation it deserves.”