Faculty brings ‘a taste of Africa’ to OBU

By Morgan Smith, Faith Editor

Students and staff enjoyed authentic African food at the Taste of Africa event. / Courtesy Photo

Montgomery Hall was filled with the smell of home-cooked food on Wednesday, Feb. 22, during OBU’s Taste of Africa event.

The event was hosted as part of Black History Month, following OBU’s State of Black Economy in Oklahoma lecture at 4 p.m.

OBU’s faculty members were responsible for bringing a Taste of Africa to the campus.

Dr. Yvonne Mbote, an assistant professor of chemistry from Cameroon, said the faculty spent three months planning the event.

“As Black African faculty, we decided to do something to assist this Black History month,” Dr. Mbote said. “It’s not only me; it’s a contribution of all the Black faculty.”

Other faculty members involved were Dr. Roland Ngebichie-Njabon, Dr. Galen Jones, Dr. Daryl Green, Dr. Camille Lafleur and Dean Lepaine McHenry.

“The faculty members of African descent were just thinking about ways that they could get to know the students, and so we talked about the possibility of a number of different events,” Jonathan Solomon, the assistant dean of students: diversity and multicultural student services, said.

“What we landed on was utilizing an event that we already had, but bringing students together afterwards to showcase some of the cultural foods from Africa, from Cameroon.”

A variety of dishes were served at the event, including chin chin, a desert dish.

Dr. Ngebichie-Njabon said his wife provided a dish made of plantains and chicken marinated in tomato sauce.

“We wanted to showcase African culture, especially in terms of the food that we cook and eat in Africa,” he said.

The Spiritual Life office also supported the event and provided the space for it.

Dean Solomon said he believes cultural events like the Taste of Africa help encourage students to take part in mission trips to other countries by generating conversations about them.

“This is an opportunity for OBU to engage students in other cultures,” he said. “I think that at OBU, we talk about ways to get out students off campus into communities and being able to serve communities and be evangelists in communities all across the world.”

Another goal of the event was to help faculty members connect with the students in attendance.

“I think that at a lot of bigger schools, faculty members do what they have to do in classrooms and then they leave,” Dean Solomon said. “Our faculty members are engaged, they want to engage the OBU community and be mentors and those type of figures to the student body.”

Both Dr. Mbote and Dr. Ngebichie-Njabon said they’d be open to participating in similar events in the future.

“I’m happy to be with OBU and the faculty, and I think organizing an event like this is very important.” Dr. Ngebichie-Njabon said. “It does show the students and folks at OBU other cultures, especially African cultures and it also helps to increase awareness and diversity.”

Dean Solomon said he hoped students were able to use Taste of Africa to connect to both African and OBU culture.

“I hope that they took away an appreciation for Cameroonian culture, an appreciation for the faculty members” Dean Solomon said. “I hope that students take away the care that OBU is about.”

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