Last semester SAIH-Bergen, the Student Parliament at the University of Bergen and ISU-Bergen arranged an event: “Tell me about Africa”. We had two goals: to learn more about the different countries in Africa, and to show the students in Bergen that the image the media and aid organizations portrays of Africa today may not be all true. Because there are different countries in Africa. There are actually 54 of them! Who knew? 54 countries, with a lot more then 54 different cultures, and with up to 3000 different languages (according to Wikipedia).
This evening we got to learn more about eight of them: Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia. We got people who are from these countries to come and tell a huge crowd in Storelogen at Kvarteret about their home countries in only 8 minutes each.
We got to hear 8 different stories. Some of them telling us about their countries were international students in Bergen, others have lived in Norway for many years. They have in common that they are all proud of where they come from. Some came in their national clothing and told about how they grew up, about the main industries, the tourism, about the beautiful beaches (yes, without ebola), and about the hundreds of languages that they only (their words, not mine) speak like 16 of.
Africa is so much more than a continent with hunger and corruption. This is important to acknowledge, and this is something that SAIH has worked with for many years. Because again and again we get to hear Bob Geldof and his celebrity friends sing about how Africans don’t know it’s Christmas time at all, about how ‘’we’’ should be helping ‘’them’’. I hope this is the last Christmas we get to hear Geldof’s awful song on the radio.
Tell me about Africa was a huge success. It was spot on what we tried to achieve, and the feedback form the audience was nothing but positive. I hope that we can arrange “Tell me about Africa” again sometime soon, and I urge other local chapters of SAIH or student parliaments around in Norway to do the same thing. Not only does it put focus on something important, it also includes many international students!