Education is the key to overcoming obstacles in Africa, according to a discussion among the leaders of local chapters of the Organization of African Students Thursday in Funger Hall.
Students from Howard University, the University of Maryland and GW came together to consider solutions to African problems and to bridge the gaps between local chapters of the Organization of African Students.
GW chapter President Paul Sunwabe, who is from Liberia, discussed corruption in Africa. He said the African elite, who allow Western exploitation of the continent’s resources, is responsible for the majority of Africa’s problems.
Sunwabe said this is the time “we can make this continent confront moral failure” and find better leadership.
Many Africans in power blame the “white man” for their continent’s poverty, while these African elites are rich, Sunwabe said.
He denounced black leaders such as Jesse Jackson for supporting “morally bankrupt” leaders of Africa and for making excuses for what they see.
“I am not a revolutionary,” Sunwabe said. “But I believe it’s time to invite social revolution.”
He said Americans should make life difficult for Africans in power, learn about African problems and form groups with people concerned about African issues.
“If people are educated, you can empower them,” Sunwabe said.
He said Africans should stop competing with the West. Before revitalizing cities and universities, African countries should construct high schools, Sunwabe said.
“No step has been taken to curb what has been going on,” Howard chapter President Kanayo Odoe said in his discussion about Africa’s corruption and the media’s influence on perceptions of different cultures.
Odoe, who is from Nigeria, said the United Nations knows that Africa’s powerful elite is contributing to the problems, but it is doing nothing to help.
He said Africa is stigmatized as a third-world and uncivilized continent. Odoe said the media focuses on the negative aspects of Africa, perpetuating black American and African stereotypes.
When he came to the United States, Odoe said Americans asked him if he slept in a tree. He said he had prejudices of his own. He said people told him “don’t talk to any African Americans because they shoot.”
As an example of the media’s biases, Odoe said the media have focused on Nigeria’s drug trafficking problem. He said the fact that a country can “never have supply without demand” never reaches the surface in reports.
Odoe closed his speech, saying “there is no reason to hate other people because of physical appearance.”
After their speeches, Odoe and Sunwabe answered questions posed by the discussion moderator, University of Maryland chapter president Christian Lendon and audience members.