I was very excited when I heard that ASA choose Ubuntu as the theme for this year’s African Night Celebration. Ubuntu represents the African sense of community which eschews overemphasizing individualism. Yet the spirit of Ubuntu has been brutalized and debauched by years of colonialism and after that, years of misrule by African governments. Today, the sense of Ubuntu seems to be on life support, as people after people and country after country continue to pursue their parochial interest to the detriment of the entire continent.
I hope the resurrection of Ubuntu here will not end tonight, but it will transform our attitudes in the way we deal with each other, that the knowledge that we have acquired in America will also be used to benefit the continent of Africa.
Ubuntu in the nutshell is that Let us be each other’s keeper.
The spirit of Ubuntu recognizes that Irrespective of our race, ethnicity and gender we are all one people. We all have similar dreams and aspirations – we want what is best for ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbors. In the end, what we can ask of each other is that we treat each other with respect and dignity for the good of our common humanity.
It is only when we recognize this that we will be able to solve the critical problems of our time – be it global warming, discrimination or the pervasive inequalities that permeates our humanity.
I believe our attitudes towards each other will undergo a positive transformation when we begin to understand one another. It is refreshing therefore to see many people from different races, ethnicities and countries studying on the MSU campus. As we interact with each other we begin to see our sense of common purpose and our shared destiny as human beings.
We at the African American Studies and the Political Science department have taken this level of interaction to the next step. As part of the vision of MSU, we are organizing a study abroad to Ghana in West Africa. At this moment, we are actively recruiting students to participate in a 3 week accelerated program which will take place in 7 different cities in Ghana.
While in Ghana, participants will among other things attend lectures with lecturers from the 3 different universities in Ghana where they will learn about history, politics, gender relations and cultural patterns in Ghana. Outside of the classroom, students will visit various national cultural and historic sites including the W.E.B Dubois Center, The Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and the National Museum. The participants will also travel to Cape Coast and Elmina to visit the former Slave Castles built more than 400 years ago which are now preserved as UNESCO world heritage sites.