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Africa Rising Week seen as vehicle for greater appreciation, understanding

Africa Rising Week 2016Saturday's African Festival, from noon to 2 p.m., has been indoors to the Kiewit Fitness Center.

Creighton University, the Creighton African Students Association (AFSA) and the African Studies Program initiate a new tradition on campus next month with the first-ever Africa Rising Week, Sept. 20 to 25.

Africa Rising Week is a spiritual, social and academic celebration of the richness of African life and the African diaspora around the world, including here in Omaha.

“We are very excited to be holding the event and see it as a springboard to greater understanding for people,” said senior sociology and criminal justice major Chinyere Ibekwe, president of AFSA. “Sometimes, Africa gets lumped into one big country, but there are so many different areas and cultures within the continent. We want more people to see those different sides of Africa and understand the diversity that makes up Africa.”

Africa Rising Week begins with “Africa Speaks: Conversations with Our Refugee Neighbors.” This event will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 20 with a 6:30 p.m. keynote address by Dhieu Jok and Christine Ross, two former refugees from South Sudan, followed by table conversations with other African refugees living in the Omaha area. The event will be held in Room 3028 of the Harper Center, 602 N. 20th St.

“That will be a powerful event,” said Olufemi Oladokun, a junior biology/pre-medicine student and president-elect of AFSA. “To hear people tell their stories and to see what they are now able to do in the business and academic communities around Omaha is very interesting and should create good conversation.”

Africa Rising Week continues with the inaugural public showing of “Bishop Vince: A Monumental Life” on Friday, Sept. 23 at 5 PM in the Hixson-Lied Auditorium at the Harper Center. Produced by filmmaker and Creighton theology professor John O’Keefe, PhD, the documentary tells the riveting story of Bishop Vincent McCauley, a Council Bluffs native and Holy Cross priest who served as a missionary bishop in Uganda in the 1960s.

Saturday, Sept. 24 from noon to 2 p.m. in the Kiewit Fitness Center on the Creighton campus, an African Festival will be celebrated with music, food, crafts and clothing. The renowned Kansas City-based Traditional Music Society will be the headline musical act.

Wrapping up the week will be an African Catholic Mass, celebrated Sunday, Sept. 25 at 4:30 p.m., at Creighton’s St. John’s Church. The Rev. Vitalis Anyanike, pastor of St. Benedict the Moor and Holy Name Catholic churches and founder of the African Chaplaincy Ministry in Omaha will act as celebrant. The Rev. Andrew Ekpenyong, PhD, a Nigerian priest and professor of physics at Creighton, will deliver the homily. Music for the Mass will be celebrated by the African Chaplaincy Choir. A reception will follow the Mass in the fellowship hall of Lower St. John’s.

Africa Rising Week is one of the first grant recipients under Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ’s Creighton Global Initiative, a program seeking to animate, enrich and embrace an intentional global focus for the University community.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to sponsor a new event and bring some more attention to Africa for students, faculty, and the entire community,” said Jay Carney, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Theology and director of Creighton’s African Studies Program. “We would like to be able to draw more people into conversations about Africa through the academic program, but also in everyday conversation. We’re hoping to encourage more people to go and engage the continent and the African diaspora here in Omaha.”

In addition to the African Students Association and the African Studies Program, the event is also taking place with support from Marrakech Gourmet, Chaima African Cuisine, and Global Foods, three Omaha establishments specializing in African cuisine. Lutheran Family Services and the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice have also contributed assistance for the celebration.

All events during Africa Rising Week are free and open to the public.

Creighton University is a Jesuit, Catholic university bridging health, law, business and the arts and sciences for a more just world.