The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Obama?s impact on black Americans explored at lecture

Students and faculty members gathered in the Thousand Oaks room of the University Student Union on Wednesday, discussing the significance of President-elect Barack Obama.

The discussion was part of Africa Week, organized by the African Student Organization, which has arranged for a number of events this week around the theme of bridging the gap between Africa and the African diaspora.

‘This election has been a historic moment not only for the United States but for the global community as well,’ said Jennifer DeMaio from the political science department. ‘He will do a lot to change the U.S.’ image in the world.’

‘I think Obama may like to help African countries,’ said Eleazu Obinna, a teacher in the Pan-African Studies department. However, the current economic situation in the United States will limit his ability to help those nations.

‘He can only start to help then when we see some sunshine in America,’ said Obinna.
‘I do not have great expectations to begin with,’ Mutumbo Nkulu-nsengha said of Obama’s presidency. ‘In recent years we have Kofi Annan, governing the United Nations, Colin Powell and (Condoleezza) Rice.’

Nkulu-nsengha explains that while Annan was working with the U.N., genocide occurred in Rwanda with no intervention.

‘What I find interesting is the symbolism. What it says to me is finally colonialism has ended,’ Nkulu-nsengha said.

‘The colonial mentality, the suspicion that black people are incapable of doing something is changing,’ said Nkulu-nsengha. ‘(Obama’s election) is changing the perception of people of African descent.’

‘I would say that we still have not entered the Promised Land,’ said Johnie Scott of the Pan African Studies department.

‘Race, as Dr. (W.E.B.) Du Bois said in The Souls of Black Folk, was the problem of the 20th century, indeed it’s still the problem of the 21st century,’ said Scott. ‘Had it not been, Obama would not be known for his major address which was on race.’

‘Up until Nov. 4, for black America’hellip; we were not created equal,’ Scott said, referencing the Declaration of Independence. ‘Had we been, my parents could have told me while growing up that I could hope to be president one day. I could have told my children, when they asked me, that they could hope to grow up to be president.’

‘Africans are a people who have been exploited, colonized, enslaved,’ said Assumpta Oturu, the host of Spotlight Africa for the radio station KPFK 90.7 FM. ‘And yet when a small stride is made it’s something that the world rejoices about.’

‘Regardless of what anybody says about Obama, I’m excited on an individual level because he portrays what is possible,’ said Oturu.

‘The issue of religion, though, remains unresolved,’ said Nkulu-nsengha. ‘What happened was people were using the Islamic faith against (Obama).’

‘People were saying they were ready to vote for a woman president, for a black president, but not for an atheist,’ Nkulu-Nsengha said. ‘And you can add, also, for a non-Christian.’

According to Nkulu-nsengha, if one were to disregard atheists, which compose about 10 percent of the population in the U.S all other non-Christian religions would only account for 5 percent of the population.

‘This country is not religiously diverse,’ said Nkulu-nsengha.

The panel was also composed of political science professor Boris Ricks and Tom Spencer-Walters, chair of Pan-African Studies.

Africa Week will continue Thursday with a student panel on African experiences and Contemporary African Movie Night.

Africa Week will culminate Friday with the African Banquet and Fashion show in the Northridge Complex.

All the events of Africa week are free of charge and open to all to attend.

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