SUFAPalooza celebrates culture

Musical group Songs of Africa performed at SUFAPalooza, highlighting African culture.  Ryan Doan/Staff Photographer

Musical group Songs of Africa performed at SUFAPalooza, highlighting African culture. Ryan Doan/Staff Photographer

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Fundraiser raises awareness and funds for Africa

The night began as Professor Emmanuel Uwalaka, a Nigerian native, introduced the annual SUFApalooza, which was held this past Thursday, Jan. 26. He began by telling the inspiring story of a young schoolgirl from Nigeria.

Musical group Songs of Africa performed at SUFAPalooza, highlighting African culture. Ryan Doan/Staff Photographer

Belonging to the small percentage of privileged children who have access to an education, the young girl in his story knew this opportunity was crucial. To complete her homework, the girl would take chalk-like substances and finish assignments on pavement with only the rays of the moon as her light.

Across the globe, children of the Western culture are pulling a classic Ferris Bueller, begging parents for one free day off from school. Uwalaka, in his 20 years as a professor of political science at SLU, has noticed how location has an impact on ideals and values of a culture. Students United for Africa has noticed the difference as well.

SUFA provides empowerment to and education on African countries that are struggling to acquire education and fighting for civil rights.

However, SUFA makes clear that Africa is not powerless. Through the sponsorship of a school and library in northern Ghana for the past six years, SUFA has empowered the people of Ghana to earn an education and begin to fight for a better future.

The knowledge that education is crucial for success has been a key component in advocating for a better Ghana. The 1,800 children who are now receiving an education from the school and the adults who will be using the library are taking full advantage of the opportunity.

SUFA president Megan McCray has a compassion and love for Africa that shines in the organization. McCrayand her team are responsible for fighting for Africa at SLU without the aid of a sponsor or help of a professor.

As president, one of her main duties is to create a successful SUFApalooza, the biggest fundraiser SUFA holds each year.

Her efforts have been triumphant. This year SUFApalooza raised over 600 dollars for the library efforts in Ghana.

Part of the mission of SUFApalooza is to create in an environment that brings an awareness and understanding of African culture and its needs directly to campus. During the event, students receive both a taste and vision of the beauty behind African culture. With delicious food, an exhibit of handcrafted bracelets and jewelry, and authentic performances and displays of African arts, SUFApalooza was successful in its efforts to emerge SLU students and the northern Ghana community.

A huge delight for SUFApalooza attendees was the performance of Songs of Africa, a group that brings the insight and passion of African songs from countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe to people across America.

The importance of bringing a group like Songs of Africa to SUFApalooza was evident. It was a cultural experience in itself to hear the voices of the group blend together to create a vision of Africa for the students of SLU. SUFApalooza highlighted the message that it is possible to create a relationship across the globe between two very different communities.

With all proceeds going to the Ghana library, SLU students were able to make a difference in the lives of those who want to take back their power to create a profitable and rewarding life for themselves.

McCray and the members of SUFA plan on scheduling several events this semester that will serve as fundraisers for the library and help gain more recognition for the club.

In addition SUFA is hoping to bring Invisible Children, an organization that raises awareness of child soldiers in central Africa, back to campus to release their new documentary.

“What matters is not how big you are, but what you want to do and what your ideals are,” Uwaka said. “These kids want to do something, be something, so use your education and skill to help others.”

SUFA takes these words and puts them into action, transforming a Ghanaian community and empowering individuals to make a difference.