An evening with AAFRA: “Sometimes you want to not just focus on your skin color”

- in Föreningen, In English

In the colder seasons, food is often a great way for a warm gathering of people to embrace cuisine, background and heritage. Lundagård met with the members of Association of African Affairs (AAFRA), who got together at  Smålands Nation to eat a traditional Somali dish called Suugo Suqar.  

AAFRA is an African-run student organization, aimed at creating spaces for black and african students since 2016. Sara and Nada* have recently became its organizers. They plan events such as a dinner at Småland’s nation back in September, because “Multiculturalism is good for your mental health too and not just for the pictures” Sara expressed. 

In recent times they felt “invisible due to microaggression” and the ongoing conversation about black lives can feel dehumanizing to them. Sara mentions “I find it important to celebrate African heritage so we can be visible!” in other aspects than just race. Although AAFRA is an African-run student organization that is primarily aimed at African students, it welcomes anyone to join.

This semester, the duo decided to re-establish the old AAFRA community, which had been temporarily abandoned in 2020 after the previous organizers had graduated and left Lund. This semester they gave the re-establishment a second attempt as they “felt a push to make it a thing this year, which is really important”, the efforts in rebuilding the student association became successful and they  immediately  started to plan events. 

Co-Creator Sara originally studied sociology in the United Kingdom and mentions that she hoped to come in contact with others that had an appreciation for black culture through her courses on gender studies, “which you think would be quite a ‘Woke’ space. It is but it isn’t at the same time”. Sara states that after feeling too visible in the public eye yet isolated in her experience as a black student, the only thing that kept her going was the black lady that smiled at her on campus, “it makes you feel visible in those sorts of instances and kind of makes you feel better”.

Nada, having originally come from Denmark, says that after having her first year studying economics in Lund during lockdown, she was devoted to having a proper university experience. For her second year at Lund university, she set herself to explore ‘Lund’s student life’ she had heard so much about, but after experiencing it she says she “never felt a hundred per cent part of it”. Nada expresses “My student life has definitely improved in meeting other black students and having a place just to be yourself”. For example, the dinner hosted at Smålands nation was because “We wanted to show that we have a space and people could come if they wanted to and enjoy some good food”, she says.

Nada concludes the interview  by saying “Sometimes you want a place to just have fun and not just focus on your skin color” and “be with people that just get you”.

* Sara and Nada do not want their last names in the article.

Salma and Nada together with some of the attendees of the dinner at Småland’s nation.
Photo: Johan Larsson