‘AfroNation’ Celebrates Vibrant Culture and Diversity of Africa
By Indira Zaldivar & Edward Saenz, The Dateline
UHD has a number of student clubs and organizations—including the African Student Association (ASA). Last spring, ASA hosted “AfroNation,” a celebration of African culture that included electrifying African dance performances, delicious dishes, a fashion show, music, games, and more.
ASA speaker Oluwabusola Okulaja showcased her talents at the event during a group dance performance to the rhythm of Afrobeats, Afro-fusion, AfroPop, and Hip Hop.
“This event was meaningful to me because I experienced community and teamwork,” said Okulaja, who is majoring in Health and Behavioral Sciences. “I was able to show people how proud I am of my culture. This event also made me realize how loved I was by my fellow Gators, and it gave me an inspiration to keep going and doing what I do best.”
For AfroNation attendee Rhode Villareal, the dance performance was her favorite. Next time, she suggested a teaching portion as she wants to learn how to dance like the performers.
“What inspired ASA in creating this event was the focus in wanting to showcase our African culture and in making our mark to let our student body know of the association,” ASA president Maria Orie-Okpewho said.
Okpwewho re-established the student organization in February, representing her Nigerian roots. She led the event alongside the event coordinators Janai Kamese and Hanifa Ali. She also had support from the ASA members as well as Student Activities Director Tremaine Kwasikpui and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion Program Coordinator Savasia Mangual.
The menu showcased African cuisine, including jollof rice, fried plantain, meatpie, chapati, egusi, pounded yam, and puff puff. Beverages included Nigerian chapman and Rwandanese Agasha.
“We just wanted to showcase our culture and show African representation at UHD,” Priscilla Atani, ASA secretary, said. “I hope the student body has gained a greater understanding of the African culture’s diversity in terms of our food, clothes, and languages.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.