Amka Conference at college to raise awareness of African issues

MIDDLEBURY — Umoja, Middlebury College’s African student organization, will host the 2016 Amka Conference on Saturday, April 23, on campus in Bicentennial Hall and Dana Auditorium. In Swahili, amka means to awaken, and similarly, organizers are hoping to awaken the Middlebury community’s attention regarding issues relevant to Africa.
Every year for the past four years Umoja has hosted its Amka Conference to explore varying themes affecting the African continent. Last year, the theme was “Education in Africa.” The conference featured Fred Swaniker, founder of African Leadership Academy and African Leadership University, who spoke about innovating ways of solving issues facing the continent through education.
This year, the theme of the conference will be “Africa through Film.” Umoja believes that reclaiming African narratives and telling Africa’s stories from the perspective of Africans is vital. Film has been an important medium for reimagining Africa’s image, which has often been negatively portrayed by outsiders. Additionally, from Nollywood to African YouTube series, there are growing images of Africans in film.
The keynote speaker will be Nadia Sasso, a Sierra Leonean-American filmmaker and digital storyteller. Her documentary, “Am I: The Film,” explores identity politics and gender in the diaspora. There will be a screening of the documentary along with a question-and-answer session with Sasso. The events will commence at 11 a.m. with a talk by Middlebury Professor Natasha Ngaiza, a Tanzanian-American filmmaker, who teaches in the Film and Media Culture Department.
The event will also include a talk with Sena (’17) and Pele (’19) Vanjouciv, brothers and Middlebury College students. They made a short documentary in the summer of 2015 titled “ReVodution,” which focuses on their traditional West African spiritual practices in the modern context.
This event is free, and the community is invited.

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