This week USC’s Pan African Student Association (PASA) is hosting their second annual Africa Take Over Week. I had the chance to stop by their kickoff event and meet students involved in this organization.
PASA welcomes students of all backgrounds, whether they are originally from the African continent or not. Originally started by Joy Ohiomoba during her undergraduate experience, the organization is dedicated to inclusive programming for students of color.
The week kicked off on Sunday, April 9, with a soul food brunch at Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen. Six students (including myself) carpooled to the Crenshaw location to feast on delicious southern cuisine. Their plates were filled with crispy fried fish, gooey mac and cheese, and sweet candied yams. In addition, the students were introduced to the restaurant owner, Dulan, who treated them to complimentary sides of delicious collard greens and cabbage.
Coincidentally, Dulan had returned from an 18-day trip to various countries in Africa the previous night. He shared what it was like to visit for the first time. His most memorable experience was in South Africa when he was welcomed into the home of a husband and wife for dinner and a jazz performance. Dulan stated that it was in that moment he was able to make connections with American soul food and traditional South African dishes. He and his host had the opportunity to exchange recipes: he taught her how to make corn bread.
In response, the students exchanged stories from their families of different African backgrounds; Nigeria, Ghana, Algeria, and other countries were represented at the dinner table. Originally set to last for a short time, the dinner extended to the three-hour mark as the rich conversation and fellowship continued.
Even though I can not trace my roots back to a specific country, the conversations excited me about the diversity of blackness. Everyone’s story makes them uniquely them and sharing those stories allows us to become closer together.