Monash South Africa’s (MSA) student representative council, Monash University South Africa Student Association (MUSASA) arranged a week of activities to address what it means “To Be African” and encourage a celebratory spirit on campus. On Monday, 25 May 2015 staff and students joined in the festivities of the week and came dressed in their traditional attire to celebrate Africa Day, took pictures to tell their stories and showcased the diversity and multiculturalism that MSA is so proud of. Africa Day has been celebrated annually on the 25th of May since the 1960s to acknowledge Africa’s history, heritage and culture and the headway that we, as Africans, have made, while reflecting upon the common challenges we face globally.
One of the principles that the celebration of Africa Day is based on is Ubuntu. Ubuntu is known as an act of kindness, inspired by mankind showing a sense of care for one another and valuing the good of the community above individual interest. According to MUSASA President, Robert Phiri: “Ubuntu frames the foundation upon which the African culture, tradition and dynamism is cemented. In this ethos and moral we embrace our pride and celebrate the beauty and gifts that Africa has from humanity, relief, landforms, and animals to vegetation. Africa Day thus, is a day when all African cohorts get together, exhibit and share their national traditions, culture, and stories. In a world that is full of turmoil, racial discrimination, civil wars and social unrest; this is the day when we put our heads together in full swing and map an African relevant syllabus and an equally important social balance.”
MSA became the first institution in Sub-Saharan Africa to join the Laureate International Universities network in 2013. It is a multicultural campus which represents over 60 nationalities and encourages students to embrace and learn more about other cultures. Abel Gaiya, a Nigerian MSA student had this to say: “Africa day is when you get to truly appreciate all the colours of the continent. From flags, foods and clothing, to dances, music and languages, Africa day brings to one’s eyes the true diversity of the continent. Just viewing the material aesthetics of different cultures from afar causes one to appreciate that one is African.”
Expressing her pride and love for Africa, MSA student Kim Moody says that for her, being African is about “having the privilege of belonging to Africa, the entire continent. Not having my traditions, culture, and identity enclosed and restricted by borders. My identity spans and incorporates all beliefs and practices across all the African borders.”