By Sydney Hamilton
With the ultimate goal to put an end to stereotypes and misconceptions about African people, fourth-year Ryerson business technology management student Samantha Mashoro has created a project called “We Are Africa — One But Many.” She plans to teach Ryerson students about Africa’s many cultures through the voice of African students.
Mashoro moved to Canada in 2008, but identifies as 100 per cent Zimbabwe-Canadian. Even though she’s been living in Ontario for about six years, she said people constantly ask her ignorant, stereotypical questions about living in Africa — like whether or not she’s educated and if she lived in poverty without electricity. She even recalls one student referring to Africa as a county.
“People only know what they’ve seen on TV,” she said. “The way it’s represented by the media, you’re only seeing one piece. You don’t see the whole picture.”
To initiate her project, she collaborated with Ryerson International Student Services and has been reaching out to as many African students from different countries as possible. The final product will be a website that showcases photos of the students’ faces in front of their country’s flag, accompanied by their personal stories.
“My goal with this project is to enlighten the public on Africa,” Mashoro said.
She wants to focus on the cultural diversity of the continent to show that while Africa’s countries are united, they are all unique.
Ryerson seemed like the ideal place to instigate the project, seeing as the student population on campus is made up of so many people from different cultures all around the world.
“Ryerson is so diverse, but we really don’t know much about each other,” Mashoro said. “Understanding people’s cultures helps you understand why people are the way they are.”
Mashoro said her own traditions from her life in Zimbabwe have made her the individual she is today.
“To achieve your dreams and to be your own person and to be proud — that’s what my culture has taught me,” she said. “You’re not what people think you are, you’re much more than that.”
For details on how to get involved with Mashoro’s project, click here.