By Okon Ekpenyong
Seeing hundreds of students from various African and Caribbean countries unite on the night of Saturday, October 22, 2022, to celebrate the African Renaissance inside Ohio Union at the Ohio State University was pure emotion.
The African Youth League, which put the event together on Saturday, October 22nd, is one of 1400 student organizations at the University, and joining one does have several benefits. Participating in the African Youth League’s affairs and weekly meetings allows students to immerse themselves in an ethnic and cultural environment that encourages discipline and hard work.
African Youth League (AYL) meets every Thursday from 7:00 pm-9:00 pm in Hale Hall Room 110A and Wednesdays in the MLK Room. Our African culture and heritage will continue to pulsate through our bloodstream regardless of whether we are home or abroad. It shows that we are more alike than different.
It was a night when students from African countries like Nigeria and Ethiopia and many Caribbean nations like Jamaica proudly repped their cultural attire, danced to their native beats, and shared their cultures with their neighbors.
Most of the students are second-generation immigrants, having at least a first-generation parent. The Pew Research Center reports that 36% of college graduates between 25 and up are 2nd generation, compared to 29% of first-generation and 31% of non-immigrants. Although Asian and Hispanic Americans account for a vast majority of these percentages, black immigrant students are rising and have an incredible impact on today’s economy.
It means an institution like Ohio State University does take pride in producing scholars after scholars because students like these could one day make great discoveries.
A simple mission of the organization is to protect the essence of African Culture and to provide a space for all African and Black Caribbean students to meet, raise awareness and be part of a group that aims always to uphold diversity and inclusion.
The night included a Flag Walk, in which students from different parts of Africa, including the Caribbean, carried their national flag from the Hall to the Ohio Union Auditorium.
The room erupted when Nigerian, Ethiopian, and Jamaican students entered the Auditorium with their national flags. Students from these countries have vast student bodies, especially undergraduates.
The night’s MC was INI Cash, founder of vibesandtrips.com. Among the services the company provides are event promotion and entertainment for festivities, Renaissance events, weddings, and private and public parties. The Keynote speaker was Abdirahman Farah, a current law student at Capital University and an alumnus of Ohio State University. The Blackpope, a Magician, was one of the acts, and he wowed the crowd with his performance. Zack Haliu, who goes by his stage name Zulu had the crowd on their feet while performing his latest singles.
I owe immense gratitude to my African Parents for not only introducing me to their culture but also bringing me back to their native land when I was three years old. I learned how a small community of people from different tribes and ethnic backgrounds could work together for a common goal. That’s what I saw at last night’s event.
The African Youth League at Ohio State and other institutions across the country should be proud of themselves for building and sustaining such a successful organization. It will continue to be a comfort for thousands of black immigrant students, a sense of belonging they still have or someone they can turn to in the future.
If you are attending other institutions across the country, each campus has its cultural organization and encourages first and second-generation immigrant students to join one
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