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TCU Chapter Event in Addis Ababa University- including presentation from Mrs. Rebkha Atnafu and more

Updated: Mar 17

Bethel Belachew, Addis Ababa University

In recent times, Ethiopia's True Culture University Club has gained popularity and established numerous clubs in universities throughout the country- including in Addis Ababa University, Debre Berhan University and Bahir Dar University, with more university clubs also undergoing development like in Assosa University, Arba Minch University and more. On January 6, 2024, I and fellow members of TCU in Addis Ababa University organized our second event introducing the mission and goals of the club followed by the explanation of the different tracks. The tracks are the Tech Track, Event Track, News Track, Business Track, Art Track and Education Track. The TCU club overview was presented during the event in great detail by the Tech Track Head Kidus, with a few points added from Abel the Chapter Coordinator. We also invited an Ethio-American guest from America (Mrs. Rebkha Atnafu- the founder and CEO of RnD Associates and Zeni’s gift project) to tell us what life in America is as a black person. The event included many fun and educational programs like games, poems, presentations about the history of Africa and Pan Africanism, trivia questions, song performances and ended with our special guest giving us a remarkable speech about her experiences in America and what we should learn from it.

Initially, as the event was starting, students were playing Trivia which was led by our stage leader for the day- Nejat, our Debate Coordinator. It gave students the chance to learn new information, test their knowledge and have fun! Once the event started the President of the club thanked us for attending the program, and briefly introduced the event. Afterwards, Kidus made sure our audiences were familiar with the tracks and what the club was about. The presentation included a message from Mr. Miles Henderson- the founder of True Culture University.

Miles founded True Culture University when he was a college student back in 2014 and was inspired to expand his club when participating in a study abroad program in Ghana. In his message, Miles really explained the vision and mission of TCU, including the inspirational role that Marcus Garvey plays within TCU, the example Ethiopia can set for Pan Africanism and the opportunities for growth students will have within True Culture University. After the presentation our education track secretary started her thorough presentation on the history of Africa and Pan Africanism. Discussed in the presentation was one ancient name of Africa- Alkebulan, some of the beliefs and traditions of African people and finally, the history of Pan Africanism including the history of the Pan African flag (red, black and green)  which was followed by a rich poem by Ermias about what it means to be Ethiopian. We then asked different fun questions and had a musical performance to keep our guests entertained. The winner was given a mobile card gift.

Finally, our esteemed guest spoke to us about her life in America, describing that she came to America during the Derg regime due to the red terror conflict and how she encountered a lot of racism. Her classmates and professors in university were asking her half-witted questions like “did you wear clothes while you lived in Africa?” or “did you have water?”. This experience alongside others made her realize the type of society she now found herself in. Mrs. Rebkha is a firm believer in advocating for oneself in any circumstance or location. She also talked about how her mother almost lost a job due to her skin color “my mother was a sharp-witted individual. She applied for the Ethiopian airlines at that time controlled by the Greeks, she surpassed all the applicants in both the interview and written exams. However, later on she found out a Greek person got the job” She described how her mother, enraged by prejudice in her home country Ethiopia, addressed the firm. “My mother swore she would sue the company if they don't hire her” later her mother got the job as the first executive director for the Ethiopian Airlines.

Mrs. Rebkha mentioned a specific weakness she identifies in many Ethiopian students public speaking as the key in influencing a generation. “Journalism has power, the story you tell has the power to influence a whole generation” said Mrs.Rebkha after explaining how the BBC and CNN got such a high level of influence and power, which holds the power to narrate one's story and give it credibility and paint a specific lens of understanding. Mrs.Rebkha explained that the Pan African struggle should continue, it just needs a stronger voice and more advocacy for it to be completely successful. She really encouraged us to be more open minded and outspoken. Finally, towards the end of the event, Mrs.Rebkha broke bread with members of TCU's executive team and members of the event all took pictures together, which brought a fitting end to a quite memorable, thought provoking event.

The TCU event in Addis Ababa University successfully educated and motivated students to continue to learn for themselves and to struggle purposefully for themselves, giving attendees knowledge about their continent's history. We were encouraged to stand up for ourselves and be confident, and took a lot of encouragement from the event.

And, well, confidence is just what we need as Black People.

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