I took a day trip to visit my kids at the University of East Anglia, Norwich on Saturday.
This is a journey I had only ever taken by driving over the last 2 years of my involvement with this institution. Bolaji, my son is in his final year but Tolani, my youngest daughter is a freshman having just started on a Marketing Degree program last September.
On this occasion, I decided to take the trip by rail. Aside arriving at the station 1 hour too early and consequentially getting half frozen to death waiting for the 9.38 on platform 10 at Stratford, the journey was relatively smooth and straight forward. I even treated myself to a first class ticket!
After delivering all the called goodies I personally prepared and brought with me for my 2 students, and catching up with Tolani’s myriad of experiences so far as a new undergraduate (and not much from Woolwich.. ) Bolaji suggested we walk round and see the sights of the Campus. Eventually we ended up at the Students’ Union Building where the Afro-Caribbean Students here holding an event to commemorate the Black History week.
We sat down and enjoyed the proceedings with keen interest. Tolani had joined the Whatsapp forum of the society so she knew quite a few of the members and participants. A number of them came over and said a very polite hello.
I was highly impressed.
Not just by the fact that these students had organised such a event to commemorate sucb an important season on the calendar. Nor some of the items on the program which included talks, poetry, drama presentation and singing that will put many XFactor participants to great shame.
I was impressed – and seriously so too, by the number of Afro Caribbean students in attendance. The first time I went to UEA was when Bolaji joined as a freshman.
Throughout the entire 5 or so hours we were there, I counted less than 10 Black students.
UEA was a predominantly white institution and I must confess, I really did worry for my son coming from a culturally diverse South East London where about 5 of every 10 students or adults are of Afro-Caribbean ethnicity.
But just 3 after later, the face of UAE has changed drastically. All over the campus, you can see that the institution has changed from being predominantly white to a culturally diverse and multi racial community.
As I pondered these realisations, I dawned upon me that this is a story that needed to be told. So, to my daughter’s amazement, I approached the executives of the ACS. The Vice President, a young man who goes by the name Samuel Bedean, a 2nd Year Engineering student was pleased to sit with me and answer some questions.
Samuel revealed that there are now over 1,500 students from the Afro Caribbean background in UEA and about 250 are in their first year alone. And many of them are engaged in meaningful areas of study such as Pharmacy, Business Studies, Medicine, Law, Computer Science and Marketing.
For example, the ACS Secretary Tobi Ajisafe is a 1st year pharmacy student while the students, Rep Temi Odunniyi is 2nd year law. Both are of Nigerian heritages. I also met a young lady Koshesai Fundira from Zimbabwe who is in the second year of her International Development Degree.
There are also many Afro Caribbean students in Post Graduate, Phd and 2nd Degree programmes in several fields at UEA.
The Afro Caribbean community in this institution is made up of students from various countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Jamaica, Antigua, Trinidad & Tobago etc
The University of East Anglia ACS was founded as a community for students from Afro & Caribbean ethnicity to be able to bond and get together with the view to exploring their common heritage and to embrace and share their diverse cultures.
The association is fully supported and encouraged by the University’s authorities who proudly welcome the institution’s growing cultural diversity.