Diplomats, professors and activists gave presentations on how various African countries are trying to develop their economies through promoting trade and investment, while other African countries are plagued by civil unrest, at an event on campus Friday.
The presentations were part of the second annual Aluta Continua Symposium and African Liberation Day celebration hosted by the African Activist Association, which works to foster a deeper understanding of issues that African countries face, said Erica Anjum, a graduate student in African studies and one of the organizers of the event.
About 30 people attended the event, which also featured a dance crew from Cameroon
During the event, Robert Sichinga Jr., the Zambian honorary consul, said he is lobbying the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors in an effort to make Los Angeles County and Lusaka Province, which contains the capital of Zambia, sister provinces. He said this could even lead to partnerships between UCLA and universities in Zambia.
“Zambia can be a hub for the region, and we are really looking forward to partnering with American businesses in order to improve the standards of our products,” he said.
Other speakers talked about racial inequities in South Africa.
William Worger, a history professor at UCLA, talked about the lack of economic improvement for most black Africans in post-apartheid South Africa, and how much of the wealth in the nation is still being held by the white minority.
Worger said he thinks the lack of black Africans among university faculty in South Africa is a problem, as he thinks race is not acknowledged enough in academic work.
“Many of these universities are 95 percent white and are resisting hiring (black Africans),” he said. “There needs to be a change so we can have a better dialogue.”
The last speaker of the event was Maurice Carney, the co-founder and executive director of Friends of the Congo, a nonprofit that works to educate people on the problems of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Carney said he thinks more residents of the Western Hemisphere should know more about the civil war currently happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo, especially because many of the minerals used in technologies, such as tungsten, come from that country.
“In the era of Black Lives Matter, nearly 6 million Africans lost their lives in this conflict yet there is tremendous silence on this,” he said. “African lives are still valued less.”
Camille Stewart, a graduate student in urban planning, said she thought Carney’s speech was the most impactful for her.
“We often hear about how technology can uplift people, but due to the exploitation of minerals in (the Democratic Republic of Congo) the same technology is hurting those people,” she said.
Adria Tinnin, a graduate student in political science, said she thought the event helped her gain unique perspectives on issues she had never known that much about before, such as how different African countries are dealing with foreign investment.
“I think it’s really important to have people come and discuss matters from their own countries, rather than looking at these issues from a foreign intervention perspective,” she said.
Anjum said the African Activist Association hopes to have more events discussing topics related to Africa in the future.