by Willy Nichter, Staff Writer
Tanirah Watson (’18) recently gave an interview with The Drew Acorn regarding the development of her new Pan-African theme house, the UMOJA House.
Pan-Africanism is a term which covers a wide breadth of ideas and methodologies, but at its core, it is the idea that all people of African descent, both directly from Africa and from elsewhere in the world, are bound together by cultural ties and should unite in order to properly explore and utilize said ties.
The house, which is being developed by Watson and the Pan-African Studies Department, will focus on teaching both its residents and the Drew community at large about Pan-Africanism and its cultural relevance.
Q: What inspired you to set up the UMOJA House?
A: I was inspired to set up the UMOJA house because I realized the challenges of being a minority and living on Drew’s campus. Sometimes students like myself feel like there’s no one to relate to and that makes being away from loved ones very hard.
Q: What is its specific purpose?
A: The UMOJA House members will strive to create and maintain cultural unity within the Drew family. Our goal is to create a cultural and academic institution that fosters the spirit, history, and reality of Pan-Africanism.
Q: Do you feel that it will serve an important role on campus, and if so, what?
A: Yes, I feel that it will serve an important role on campus. The UMOJA House will be more than just a house, it will a part of the community. Being away from home and family is never easy. One of our main focuses would be comfortability. Often times any minorities on this campus feel misunderstood, causing them to stumble and lose our way, but the UMOJA House hopes to change that. This house will be a place that minorities can find a support group, one that can be monumental in ensuring that more students of color complete the journey of making it to and through college.
Q: Who do you have working with you on the house?
A: After realizing that the UMOJA house could make a positive impact on Drew’s campus I met up with Kei-sygh Thomas (‘17) and Grace Odunsi (‘20) to get the ball rolling. Cesar Munive (‘18), Manny Familia (‘19) and Oghogho Notemwanta (‘20) helped us put on a great presentation.
Q: Have your efforts been successful so far?
A: I think a lot of people on campus are very excited that this is happening and we have a long list of people that want to live there.
Q: When did you start working on it, and when do you expect it to be finished?
A: Kei-sygh Thomas and I began working on this idea last semester which was presented last month.
Q: And what do you most want to get out of the UMOJA house?
A: UMOJA equals UNITY! Unity is what I want most to get out of the UMOJA House. It’s important that it will be a place where I not only feel welcomed and more understood but a place where I can learn more about others.
The UMOJA House is located at Eberhardt 25 and 26. For more information, contact Kuumba, Drew’s Pan-African Organization, at firstname.lastname@example.org.