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Spring is here and everyone on campus is beginning to look forward to the non-stop weekend parties and the abundance of alcohol that the end of the semester dutifully brings each year. Spring Fling is now only a week away and Penn Relays is just around the corner. And while you are preparing to attend these big events, there is one great event that you definitely should not miss -- Africa-Fest, an exciting celebration of African culture and heritage that has been organized by Penn African Student Association. For any of you who got a taste of the various cultures that are present on Penn's campus this past Monday during Celebration of Cultures, you probably realize just how exciting it is to have-- and how much potential exists in having -- further exposure to African culture. PASA has attempted to reflect the diversity of Africa in its programming for the event. The events try to capture aspects of African life in the 21st century by acknowledging its history and traditions while incorporating modern interpretations. The celebration kicked off on Tuesday with an educational perspective of Africa. Kenyan Professor Ali Mazrui spoke about various influences on Africa -- indigenous, Islamic and Western. His discussion incorporated his views as a person of mixed heritage himself and his various perspectives because of his varied background. In one situation, for example, his point of view may seem very American; while in another situation, he sees thing from an Islamic point of view. He is, in fact, Kenyan, but the points of view that his heritages have taught him made his own life his greatest teacher. Tonight, PASA will present a glimpse at what Africa has to offer in the way of fashion and cultural expression. If you want to get a taste of African clothing, there will be a fashion show tonight at the Iron Gate Theater at 8 p.m. This show will feature Tanzanian designer Bishanga. The clothing is a mix of traditional African dress with modern designs. Part of cultural expression of Africa is achieved through dance. The show will include Tyehimba African Dance Ensemble, a West African dance troupe, performing traditional dances from Senegal, Gambia and Guinea. A second dance group from Central Africa, Uteko Bonyama, will also be performing. Tomorrow, PASA will promote one of Africa's major sports by holding a soccer tournament in Superblock. Soccer is also a fairly well-known sport among most Americans and is a visible thread of culture that is shared in both regions. Oftentimes, when we think of Africa, we think of people who are starving to death in poverty-stricken places. Unfortunately, this is a very real aspect for some people in some parts of Africa. Recognizing the less fortunate side of Africa, PASA has teamed up with Penn for UNICEF to co-sponsor Hungry Heart Banquet 2001. The event will feature African food as well as other types of cuisine. And the proceeds from the event will be split between groups supporting Afghanistan and Burundi, a small African country. As we have all been told, college is a micro society filled with opportunities to learn and expand our comfort zone of knowledge. Africa-Fest is a prime opportunity for some of us to learn something new, and for others among us to refresh our memories about and insights into Africa. Not only does an event like this offer the opportunity to learn about one of the world's lesser-known continents, but it can also help us see how parts of African heritage have been incorporated in to our everyday Western society. I am sure that this weekend there will be a party to go to -- where you will do the same thing you did last week. Or better yet, you'll sit in someone's room and play video games or watch television the way you always do. Instead of the usual, I encourage you to involve yourself in an event filled with knowledge, culture, insight and entertainment. Whether Africa is your homeland -- or you don't know even the slightest thing about it -- there is something fun to learn and do during Africa-Fest. All of the events promote and support African life and show the manifestation of the combination of traditional Africa with modern society in clothing, dance and education. It may not be the keg party that you were expecting, but it certainly is not bottom-of-the-barrel entertainment.

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