Titans “go back” to their roots at Sankofa

Alessia Girardin, News Editor

Photo credits: Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Sankofa is a Ghanaian word meaning “go back and get it.” Titans got a chance to experience an evening of music, history and celebration this past Tuesday, February 15, from 6:30- 7:30 p.m. at Hansen Student Center. The Sankofa Celebration event was meant to commemorate the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s (ODI) past as they move forward in 2022. 

“I was admittedly perplexed when I saw that IWU was having an event based on a word from Ghana. As a First-Generation Ghanaian-American, I made sure to ask my family what Sankofa means, they said it meant “Let’s go back and pick up our culture; go back and get to where we left off after it was stolen from us,” first year student, Sena Ntumy said. 

The event starred journalist and entrepreneur Garry Moore who spoke eloquently about topics that we need to bring more attention to in today’s society. Titans took a few moments to go back to some of their roots to gain strength from them so that they can continue to move forward and do all the amazing things that they are here on this campus to do. 

In addition to his role as a news anchor on News 25 and entrepreneur, Moore is a sought-after storyteller, percussionist, writer and cultural arts presenter. He is also a radio program consultant at WPNV 106.3 that he operates with his wife, Denise in Peoria, IL.

Photo Credits: Office of Diversity and Inclusion

“I hope that students, staff and faculty benefitted from the opportunities to experience a special part of African-American culture.” said Ms. Sharla Brown-Ajayi, Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

“I want to challenge you to participate in topics we can talk about,” Moore said on Tuesday. During the event, he navigated through the presentation through an African celebration, inviting students to join him through a music call-response approach. 

The variety of topics that Moore addressed were global reach, John Cruger Sr., sugar cane, critical race theory, Brave New World and COVID-19, The Moors and others.  

“As an international student from Egypt, I feel like I got to learn about my own culture and it was nice to see Garry Moore, who put in the effort to learn about his culture and share that with us,” first-year student, Farah Bassyouni said. 

Moore spoke about global reach and recommended a book that students should read called Global Reach by Richard Barnet and Ronald Muller published in 1973. This book discusses the power of multinational corporations. 

“We live in a world that is globalized, and at times we forget how powerful corporations are.” Moore said.

In regard to critical race theory, Moore wanted Titans to know that he wished he studied a specific book in school. That book was Bill Cosby’s Black Book published in 1973, a history scrapbook. 

Moore then discussed a topic titled “Brave New World and COVID-19.” This topic he said addressed misinformation about vaccines. People come into Moore’s radio station espousing myths about COVID-19 and Moore wants to point them in the right direction. His job is then to send people to published trials and the doctors to answer their questions. 

A book Moore recommends to Titans about this topic is Neal Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death. Moore noted that we spend too much time on 1984 George Orwell, and that we should focus on the Brave New World. 

In connection to today’s society, Moore describes our time now to be the “Scary New World” in terms of access to information with technology. Moore urges us students to invent our own algorithms to become a part of the thing that prompts people always to the truth. 

“The presenter Garry Moore did a very good job in integrating history, very little known history with modern topics. And, we should talk more about it at school” fourth-year student, Vera Perez said.

Photo Credits: Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Another topic Moore discussed was to focus our attention to other notable parts of history. The next topic he discussed was called “The Moors.” As a Moore himself, Moore was fascinated by this group of people. Moore describes that we spent a lot of time focusing on Columbus sailing the Ocean in 1492. And, what we weren’t taught was that 1492 was the last year that the Moors had control of Spain. The Moors were African Arabs who came into the imperian penninsula, to Spain. in 700 A.D. They had taken over and civilized Spain. 

“I learned things about Africa that I didn’t even know, despite growing up in Africa, so that was fantastic– I got emotional– and I hope he comes back,” Bassyouni added.

To mirror what Bassyouni said, a Ghana native student also learned a lot. “It was really cool and very informative. Like me coming from Ghana, Africa, I didn’t know a lot of the things they were talking about. But also some things sounded familiar.” second-year student, Rees Amarteifio said.

“I believe that this event covered the many ways Black, African American, and all students of color on campus can truly feel connected with their cultural and ethnic identities despite the trials of attending a Predominantly White Institution.” Ntumy added. “I really appreciate the resources Mr. Garry Moore provided in his seminar and how he presented them as a joyful celebration of who we are as individuals in the IWU community.”