Going once, going twice, sold: Rafiki wa Africa to hold date auction

Rafiki wa Africa will be auctioning off dates to the highest bidder on Feb. 10. All proceeds will go to raise funds for Rafiki wa Afrika’s philanthropy.
Rafiki wa is an African and Caribbean based club that focuses on political and social issues. Yelena Coulibaly, president of Rafiki wa, said the purpose of the club is to share African and Caribbean cultures through performances, shows and parties.
Jonel Richardson, originally from Brooklyn NY, is one of the three social and cultural chairs of Rafiki wa. Richardson said she joined the club to connect with students who are similar to herself as well as for the philanthropy that the organization promotes.
“I joined Rafiki because my family is from the Caribbean and I figured it will be a nice way to meet people with the same background,” Richardson said. “Since I have been in Rafiki, I have learned so much about the different African and Caribbean cultures that are represented within the club. It has helped me to bond and make great relationships with everyone in Rafiki. Together we have put on several great events.”
The next event Rafiki plans to bring to campus is a Date Auction. This will be the first auction that the organization has presented.
Coulibaly said the goal of the auction is to raise funds for the Global Outreach Show, which is a talent show focused on raising money for the Ghana Student Education Fund (GSEF).
GSEF is an OWU student initiative organization that started in Dec. of 2006 to provide better education for bright, but needy students in Ghana, West Africa.
Coulibaly said, with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it was an incentive to do the auction.
“Valentine’s Day is coming up and we think the auction will be a good way for people to bid on their perfect mate while at the same time benefiting a good cause,” she said.
Richardson said although the ultimate purpose of the event is to raise money, just having fun is also a goal.
“We figured it would be a great way of helping people enjoy it by being able to go on a date with our awesome volunteers,” she said. “Besides raising money, we hope that OWU would simply have fun with this event.”
According to Richardson, to prepare for the event the club searched for volunteers who would be interested in participating. They had volunteers send their pictures and a personal profile of themselves so they could be marketed.
Rafiki Wa also had to find a restaurant that would give a good deal on food for the dates.
Both Richardson and Coulibaly said there were some common difficulties in putting on the event; including finding a venue that would accommodate all of the dates at the same time.
They said the hardest part was finding people to do the auction. “Not everyone is comfortable standing in front of people to be auctioned,” Coulibaly said. “We had a difficult time finding consistent volunteers because of (their) fear of not getting selected.”
Junior, Tonisha Lee said she wasn’t afraid to participate and wanted to do the auction because she thought it would be fun and it was for a good cause.
“Yelena and Indira asked me to participate in the date auction one day as I was walking out of Hayes,” she said. “I decided to do it once they explained to me [what] the proceeds were for. It’s important to have events like this because it allows for students of all different nationalities, ethnicities and backgrounds to come together and participate in something for a wonderful and meaningful cause.”
The Date Auction will be held on Friday, Feb. 10, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Ham-Will Atrium.

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