Short History / Talking Point

A student body named ARKANSAS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIAN STUDENTS (AANS), which “metamorphosized” or transformed into ARKANSAS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIANS (AAN), was formed in 1976 and was incorporated on September 5, 1985. And in October 1985, a constitution was drafted and ratified to serve as AANS modus operandi. The need for the Nigerians, after graduation, to stay together gave birth to AAN on February 28, 1991 when the Arkansas Association of Nigerian Students formally changed to Arkansas Association of Nigerians and the articles of incorporation amended to bear the new name.

AAN meetings were held at Philander Smith College for several years. The Trinity Episcopal Church offered the association a meeting place when they needed it and when there was availability of space. As the association had no permanent place for their meetings, they moved from place to place and where ever they could find a space to have their meetings. The lack of specific location for meetings affected the smooth running of the organization. The cohesion and unity that the association wanted to build kept falling apart.  We are fun loving community and like to host events.  Hosting of the events came along with serving African cultural meals.  Most of the event places were not accommodating to the aroma of our cuisine and would not rent their place to us again or inflate the price to the extent that we could not afford it. This situation inflamed the desire of the association to find a place they will call their own.

The Joe Filani’s administration conceived the idea of African Heritage House (AHH) in 1991. The paucity of funds and internal wrangling could not let the idea advance beyond conception, and which nearly killed it. Subsequently, a couple of new projects, namely “Nigerian Club House” in 1993 and “Nigerian Event Center” in 1994 were introduced and died at conception. Being a beautiful idea, AHH refused to die and it was, thus, officially embraced and established in January 1995.    

In 2004, the desire and dream to have a permanent structure became a reality.  The association finally found a place and bought a building on 9802 Geyer Springs Road, Little Rock, Arkansas, with the proceeds derived from the sale of its donated vacant lot on Qaw-paw area in downtown Little Rock.  It took time and efforts to reconstruct it and make it befitting for our meetings and other social and cultural activities.

In October 2018, the remodeling of the building took off and was completed in March 2020 with donations largely from members and loan from the bank. After the reconstruction, the beautiful edifice was named “THE AFFRICAN HERITAGE HOUSE” as conceived by the founding fathers of AAN.

African Heritage House is a multi-purpose hall. It is being used as the administrative headquarters of AAN, and there we host our monthly general meetings. It is also being used for social functions. And it is available for public use.

We are having this GALA night to raise funds to continue with the finishing touch to this land mark building that will be used to host and educate the community about Nigerian and African cultures. Also, fund is being raised to enable us equip and upgrade our facilities so we can offer more services to the public. Therefore, we look forward to receiving graciously your generous donations toward this laudable project.

Arkansas Association of Nigerians