Black History Month Black History Month
Learning about Africa

The African Student Union is dedicated to sharing cultural awareness and knowledge about Africa with the UM community.  

by Ashley A. Williams
UM News

Growing up in Yonkers, New York, Obianeze “Obi” Okolo wasn’t always as forthcoming about his ethnicity as he is today. He said his experience of being African in this country wasn’t always easy.  

Through years of self-discovery, he is now a proud Nigerian who is the president of the African Student Union (ASU) at the University of Miami. The organization is open to Africans, members of the African diaspora and non-Africans who appreciate the culture, traditions, and history of Africa and the countries that comprise it.  

Okolo’s passion for his Nigerian culture is the very thing that led him to his leadership position within ASU today. As a freshman, he attended Canefest, an annual campus involvement fair, and met the president of ASU and the two immediately connected.  

“She inspired me to carry the torch and to become more involved in the organization,” he said.  

After speaking with Cece Okoye further, he found out their families were both from the same southeastern town of Onitsha in Nigeria.  

“I am obsessed with my culture, even though I had never been [to Nigeria] until I was 13,” the senior biochemistry major said. “I too began to believe the negative perceptions that Africa was this undesirable place. But my parents have always done a great job at keeping me very active in the culture as I was growing up.”  

At UM, members of ASU strive to raise cultural awareness and knowledge of the issues that face Africa, including misconceptions about Africa, by providing insight into the cultural diversity throughout the African diaspora. They work to promote African culture on campus and in the greater Miami community through various events. 

Okolo, a recipient of the prestigious Ronald A. Hammond scholarship, is similarly proud to be a ’Cane. He has felt at home.  

“A large part of the UM community is very receptive of various cultures and communities and backgrounds,” the aspiring medical doctor said. “I’m comfortable being who I am and sharing who I am with people. I love listening to and learning from other people as well.”  

Though Black History Month is nationally recognized during one month only, Okolo wants to challenge members in the black community to “celebrate themselves all 12 months.”   

The organization will soon host its annual spring fashion show,  where models of all colors, ages, and sizes wear clothing from local designers. For more information, follow @asu_UMiami on Instagram.  

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