Volume I, issue 2 (Spring, 1994): On Women, Botswana, West Africa.

Table of contents

Editorial: Focus on Women and African Scholars - African Studies Program Hosts Distinguished Scholars
by Prof. Gloria T. Emeagwali, chief editor of AfricaUpdate

The African Studies Program of C.C.S.U. had the pleasure of hosting several distinguished scholars over the last few months. First, we had the Acting Director of the African Studies Association, from Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. David Uru Iyam. He kindly agreed to join us at a luncheon in honor of the first Fulbright Scholar in African Studies, Dr. Ambrose Monye. Dr. Iyam also launched the African Studies Club, a student organization, which, along with the Outreach Unit of the African Studies Committee, sponsored fifteen students to the Annual Conference of the African Studies Association in Boston. We were also fortunate to have with us at the luncheon Dr. Roger Wescott, Professor Emeritus, Drew University, President of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilization (ISCSC), and an expert in several African languages.

Students and faculty were later able to gain valuable insights into political developments in Nigeria and the aborted transition to democracy from Nurudeen Abubakar, a research fellow at Ahmadu Bello University, who came from Nigeria to attend the meeting in Boston. During that week we also had the privilege of knowing more about Africans in Liverpool from the Sierra Leonean scholar, Dr. Zack-Williams, a Professor at Central Lancaster University and also a member of the editorial board of Africa Update. Dr. Zack-Williams also attended the Boston meeting of the ASA, the proximity of which proved beneficial to us here in New Britain.

Our most recent guests were of no lesser importance. The distinguished Nigerian historian, Dr. E. J. Alagoa, a Senior Fulbright Scholar at Brown University, Rhode Island, took time off to come and talk to students and faculty on aspects of an African philosophy of history, which he approached in terms of oral documentation and the cumulative data of African proverbs. Inclement weather deterred neither the Professor nor his audience.

We have included in this issue of Africa Update summaries and impressions of some of these lectures and events, including a brief account of the memorable evening spent with our last visitor for the semester, Mr. Taolo Moshaga, a well-known musician from Botswana. On behalf of the African Studies Committee, the African Studies Club and C.C.S.U. in general, I wish to thank the various scholars and invited guests of the program for contributing their valuable time and expertise to us here at Central. In this issue we pay tribute to the African woman. In particular we honor Flora Nwapa.

Return to table of contents.

Flora Nwapa: An African Voice by Ifeyinwa Iweriebor
. . .The African Woman is intelligent, beautiful, hardworking and everything an ideal woman should be. . . She has great independence of spirit.

The above quotation, from a few months before her unexpected demise on October 16, 1993, after a brief illness, reflects Flora Nwapa's ethos, which echoes and re-echoes throughout her novels. She took a focus on women in her books for granted, querying whether male novelists were asked why their heroes are all men.

Nwapa, [full name Florence Nwanzuruaha Nwapa Nwakuche], Nigeria's and indeed Africa's first published lady novelist, was born on January 13, 1931, in Oguta, Imo State, Nigeria, home of the Lake Goddess she was to make famous in her work. She was married to Chief Gogo Nwakuche and had three children.

Her parents, Chief and Mrs. Nwapa, were both teachers [her mother taught drama]. Her maternal grandmother, who told folk tales by moonlight, and her paternal uncle, who introduced her to classic English literature, stimulated her interest in writing.

After her graduation from Nigeria's premier university, the University of Ibadan, in 1957, and a subsequent stint in Edinburgh, [Scotland], for a Diploma in Education, she embarked on her career, first as an education officer and teacher and then as the Assistant Registrar with the University of Lagos.

Her unabated interest in writing came to fruition when, encouraged by her contemporary, the renowned Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, her first novel 'Efuru', was published in Heinemann's African Writers' Series in 1966.

After the Nigerian Civil War [1967-1970], she became the first woman to serve as a Commissioner [State Secretary] in the East Central State, the area most affected by the war. With initial responsibility for the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, she made a most significant contribution to Nigeria's unique post-war policy of reconciliation. Faced with the daunting task of rehabilitating thousands of refugee children, she insisted in utilising the extended family system, as opposed to the conventional practice of institutionalising the problem by building orphanages.

Within a year she had successfully re-united all the children, many of whom had been born and bred in other parts of Nigeria, with their relatives whom she had painstakingly traced. Later she was to head the ministries of Land & Urban Development and Establishment.

After her five-year stint in public office, she went back to her first love, writing, again making history a year and a half later by becoming the first Nigerian woman to establish her own publishing company, Tana Press. By this time she had formulated universalist objectives. She wished to

. . .inform and educate women all over the world, about the role of women in Nigeria, their economic independence, their relationship with their husbands and children, their traditional beliefs and their status in the community as a whole.

Women were not her only constituency. She promised to "continue to write for our children," adding that a further objective was to "write for European, American and Asian children about African children."

Altogether she was to publish at least fifteen books of her own. In recognition of her contributions to the progress of society and the humanities, the Nigerian government invested her with the national honor of the Officer of The Order of the Niger [OON], in 1983. A year earlier, her alma mater, the University of Ibadan, presented her with its Distinguished Alumni Award. She further won, in 1985, the Merit Award for Authorship and Publishing from the Ife Book Fair. She also received a Certificate of Participation from the Iowa University School of Letters International Writing Program in 1984.

It was to take, however, a decade before her work became well known in the United States. Through the efforts of literary colleagues, American academia began to embrace her, as universities such as Southern Connecticut State College and Oberlin College, Ohio, adopted some of her books into their curricula.4 The process was then catalysed by the deliberate Afrocentric foresight of a long-time admirer of her works, Kassahun Checole, the Ethiopian-born publisher of African World Press, who republished her books, and made them available to the general American public.

At the time of her death, Flora Nwapa was Visiting Professor of Literature at the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria. She had earlier in 1993 completed a successful tour of the U.S. to promote her work. Firm plans were in the making for another tour and an invitation to take a position with an American university.

The news of her demise shocked the literary world, and in New York, on November 21, 1993, about two hundred admirers gathered in Nigeria House to participate in a Tribute Programme organised by "African Profiles International," a New York-based magazine that focuses on Africa.

There, dignitaries, diplomats, celebrities, bureaucrats, famous writers, academics, journalists, publishers, children, friends, and family members, talked about ways in which her writing, her public utterances, and her gracious personality had impacted their lives or intellectual horizons.

For this writer, one particular testimony stood out, made by a journalist, Kenyan-born Anyiango Odhiambo. She observed that for the post-independence generation of African women, Flora Nwapa had been a voice, a torchlight, giving insight into African women's perspectives not only about themselves, but the world around them.

This struck a chord of resonance within this writer, [who] as a 'teenager, a female 'teenager, one might stress, had witnessed with inexplicable emotions the events that had hurtled Nigeria into its civil war. These feelings were not relieved by the plethora of civil war literature, be it fact or fiction, churned out by even the most eloquent and informed of male authors. It was not until years later, [when] one came across two of Nwapa's books, "Wives at War & Other Stories," and "Never Again & Other Stories," published in 1980 and 1984 respectively, that the aching void was relieved. For the first time, one's suppressed emotions about the war had been expressed. Women's cynicism about all the theatrics preceding the war, their reluctance to be dragged into it, their bewilderment, dilemmas, anxiety, shock, survival tactics, opportunism, and even profiteering, were all given voice. For this writer, this was an excellent example of the need to recognise that everyone has a story to tell, and to understand the injustice done to the entire society when the views of one gender or group are posited as universal.

Nwapa's other novels, set in traditional and contemporary Nigeria, were no less illuminating - one was both informed, educated, and [in] parts, uproariously entertained.

Intellectually, her work has been subjected to the most rigorous of critiques, which have examined in detail, technical issues, themes, plots, conceptual frameworks, credibility, characters, climaxes, anti-climaxes, style, etc. Vigorous debates have been held on whether she was a feminist, a womanist, a man-hater, simplistic, idealist or obscurantist.

For this writer, it is a matter of letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools contend. What is not debatable is that Flora Nwapa has a place in Nigerian, African and World history. Future generations of Nigerians, both men and women will be wiser for the historical grounding she has provided. Professor Chikwenye Okonjo Ogunyemi, of Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxsville, once described her as a pioneer who helped to make women's issues a legitimate aspect of African literature.5 She has also contributed to the much needed enlightenment of the rest of the world by providing authentic sociological perspectives which show Africans, especially women, in as much control of their lives as is humanly possible anywhere in the world. Without doubt, at the global and personal level, she will be mourned for a long time to come.

Return to table of contents.


  • 1. Mrs. Flora Nwakuche [Flora Nwapa], in an interview with Igolo Magazine, Owerri, Nigeria, mid 1993, p. 60. 2.
  • 2. Chuks Iloegbunam, 'Flora Nwapa (1931 to 1993)', West Africa, 15-21 November, 1993, p. 2088.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ada Egbufor, 'Flora Nwapa: Africa's First Lady of Letters', African Profiles International, March/April, 1993, p. 34.
  • 5. Chikwenye Okonjo Ogunyemi, 'Women and Nigerian Literature', Yemi Ogunbiyi ed., Perspectives on Nigerian Literature: 1700 to The Present, Volume One, Guardian Books, [Nigeria} Limited, Lagos, Nigeria, 1988, p. 61.

    Ifeyinwa Iweriebor is a free-lance editor, who has been in media practice - journalism, public relations and publishing for nearly twenty years. Currently a member of Black Women in Publishing [BWIP], she had been, while resident in Nigeria, a member of the Nigerian Association of Media Women [NAMW], and was involved with activist women's organizations, such as Women in Nigeria [WIN]. She has written extensively on a wide range of issues such as literature, national development, education, and media images, with particular respect to women's involvement.

    Return to table of contents.

    An Interview with Ruth Mokabi, Regional Coordinator, YWCA, North Central Botswana and
    Member of the Botswana Democratic Party

    The interview took place at the Sheraton Hotel, New York and was conducted by Dr. Gloria T. Emeagwali, Central Connecticut State University. Mrs. Mokabi was one of the delegates to the USIA sponsored program on Women and The Political Process.

    Interviewer: Mrs. Mokabi, What is your assessment of the program and your visit to the United States? Have you gained much from your visit?
    Mokabi: Yes, There are some gains especially in knowing about U.S. women and their political campaign strategy as they project themselves into positions of political leadership.

    Interviewer: Would you say that similar campaign strategies can be effective in Botswana?
    Mokabi: Yes, to the extent that funding is possible.

    Interviewer: In the absence of funds would the strategy be effective and in such a case would you say that this meeting has really been beneficial?
    Mokabi: Yes. One can adopt aspects of it.

    Interviewer: What would your own political strategy look like in Botswana?
    Mokabi: House to house campaigns and the use of volunteers to interview prospective voters.

    Interviewer: What else did this meeting engage in besides focus on campaign strategy?
    Mokabi: We also focused on how various women organisations can work together.

    Interviewer: Am I right in saying that you visited several U.S. cities? If so which impressed you most in terms of the political awareness of women.

    Mokabi: Oregon. We were able to meet the mayor who explained how she was able to get into her present position.

    Interviewer: Is Botswana undergoing a democratic political process?
    Mokabi: Botswana has been democratic. Since 1966 it has had a multiparty system.

    Interviewer: Has Botswana been threatened in any way by the military and military coup plotters?
    Mokabi: No. Not at all. We haven't had any threats and we don't anticipate any.

    Interviewer: What has Botswana done right that some other African countries have failed to do?
    Mokabi: I don't know. Many have asked me this question but I believe that the use of traditional leaders, and the fact that they have worked hand in hand with the politicians, has been of help.

    Interviewer: What is your first plan of action on return to Botswana, in terms of the political arena?
    Mokabi: Well I would continue to work along the lines of previous activities and perhaps move towards higher political levels.

    Interviewer: Are you aiming at a Ministerial position?
    Mokabi: Not necessarily (smiling).

    At this point the interview ended; Mrs. Mokabi did not want to miss her flight back to Botswana.

    Return to table of contents.

    Women and the Political Process: An African Regional Project by Dr. Husainatu Abdullah, a Nigerian participant

    The women and the political process program was organized by the United States Information Agency (USIA) from 12 October - 5th November 1993, as part of its International Visitor Program (IVP).

    The programs are organized around a theme and usually start in Washington, D.C., the American capital. The Washington leg of the program is intended to provide a contextual background to the tour from which participants are introduced to the contents of the program to enable them understand the aims of the visit and thus be well placed to participate fully in the tour to other parts of the U.S. The women and political process program, the first to be organized under this theme. had 13 participants all drawn from ten (10) African countries, namely, Botswana, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Togo and Zaire. The participants came from different political and educational background. In addition to academics and researchers, there were social activists, politicians, lawyers, teachers and businesswomen.

    The program lasted for four weeks and was developed for the USIS by the Phelps Stokes Fund, a non-profit organization. The tour took the participants, all women, to five cities namely Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Seattle, (franco-phone participants), Portland, (Anglo-phone participants), Minneapolis and New York. The aim of the project was to introduce African women whose countries are going through a 'second wave of democratization' to the gains American women have made in politics especially since the 1992 elections that saw the entry of 30 women into congress (six in the senate and 24 in the House of Representatives) and several appointed into positions of authority.

    CCSU African Studies Local Outreach Committee Plans for 1994

    The CCSU African Studies Outreach Committee has begun plans to facilitate the dissemination of information about Africa and African Studies both on and off the campus. Professor Eddie Joyce, chair of the committee and Dr. Gloria Emeagwali, Coordinator of African Studies, recently visited Professor Sandomirsky at Southern Connecticut State University to discuss the possibility of a linkage between the two campuses in terms of African Studies courses. The committee has also begun to facilitate an outreach effort with the Benjamin Franklin School in Meriden, CT. The committee hopes to engage in a joint effort with the newly established African Studies Club to develop a display, on campus, showcasing Africa.

    Return to table of contents.

    Why the plague? (The Burden of Life)

    Wounded knee, Hiroshima, Auchswitz, Middle passage...
    And still they wonder, "why disease, why the plague?"
    When disease is in their thoughts,
    and sickness in their hearts.
    As always, they look for foreign lands to blame;
    some secret monkey business in the jungle,
    caused those bankrupt saboteurs
    to hatch a plot to kill all CEO's.
    Maybe then the money from the sunset land,
    would reach the forest floor,
    and fill the babies with food,
    give the young men and women a little light of hope,
    in their parched land.
    But as the plaintiff jumps and screams accusation,
    the defendant quietly says "they have forgotten where they stand."
    In human memory Black Foot and Running Bear lay,
    cold and forgotten.
    But the earth in which they rest screams for justice,
    louder than the sounds of rush-hour traffic,
    higher than the sentinels of profit,
    that stand erect in the sooted air.
    The earth remembers the people,
    who walked the turtle island, in search of the waken,
    who did not love to war,
    who only wanted to travel the great path,
    and see the sacred hoop turn the cycles of eternity.
    Progress, Manifest Destiny, Science, John Wayne, Desert Storm:
    the jury sits as the Judge passes sentence
    on a world he cannot understand, for which he does not care
    "I will not see this court mocked by your insinuation"
    He yells, while the very air he breathes
    has already condemned him to death.
    Why the plague they cry,
    as the clock ticks down and babies die.
    Some unborn are judged already dead,
    so that women can have their fill of pleasure,
    as guiltless as the irresponsible men who denied them equality
    by fathering the burden of life in their wombs.
    Yes, life is such a burden, living such a toil,
    it must be conquered, abused, aborted, packaged, destroyed
    and ignored.
    And now,
    unlooked for, but not uncalled,
    death knocks on their doors,
    and still they ask,
    why the plague?
    Patton Duncan

    Return to table of contents.

    Structural Adjustment in West Africa:

    Some Notes On The Ghanaian and Sierra Leonean Experience.

    by A. Zack-Williams, Central Lancashire University, U.K.

    Ghana and Sierra Leone share more than just a common colonial heritage. In recent years both have experienced prolonged economic crisis, leading to bloody military interventions and the subsequent raprochement to the IMF. In Ghana, the young leadership of the Provisional National Defence Concil (PNDC) under Flight-Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings, established itself (in 1981) as a `revolutionary vanguard', with various Defence Committees, whose raison d'etre was to mobilise the energies of the mass of the Ghanaian people. After various political and economic struggles, the revolutionary government in 1983 decided to implement the first phase of the Economic Recovery Programme of the IMF/World Bank; and in 1985 the second phase of the Structural Adjustment Policies.

    These programmes included the Fund's usual `off the shelf' conditionalities of devaluation, economic liberalisation of trade and the economy as well as privatisation. Indeed, the Fund Strived to set Ghana up as the `yard stick' by which other African economies could be judged to model their economies.

    The Ghanaian experience held tremendous appeal to Captain Valentine Strasser and his young colleagues who seized power in Sierra Leone in April 1992. Not only did the leadership in Sierra Leone model itself after their Ghanaian counterpart, both in style and the structure of the administration, but the National Provisional Revolutionary Council (NPRC) decided to fully implement the policies of ERC and SAP. Though the negotiation for these policies were done by the ousted regime, yet the NPRC unlike the ancien regime decided to fully implement the conditionalities of the Fund. This meant that unlike the previous state of affairs, where breach of conditionalities led to abrogation of the agreement by the Fund, and the subsequent implementaton of `shadow policies' by the Government of Sierra Leone, `willing' Government of Sierra Leone, after a brief period of `international pariah status' was now to attract loans from the Fund to cushion the harsh reality of adjustment.

    In a number of respects the Sierra Leone programme was a carbon copy of the Ghanaian experience. In both cases there was little consultation with organised labour which bore the brunt of restructuring. Whilst in Ghana, the World bank instituted PAMSCAD during the second phase of the adjustment programme to provide `a human face to adjustment', in the case of Sierra Leone the ADB has provided a loan of $8 million to set up SAPA. In Sierra Leone there is also assistance from the ILO to train retrenched workers to become road contractors, the kind of training that is provided for under the PAMSCAD scheme.

    The Sierra Leone programme is still in its early stages, but already there are all the signs of greater impoverishment and widespread unemployment. Nonetheless, there is an atmosphere of optimism compared to the widespread despair that prevailed only a couple of years ago. Sierra Leoneans have welcomed their new youthful ruler as `redeemer', the one who delivered the nation from the phlegmatic and decadent regime of the mis-named All People's Congress. Unlike the PNDC, the NPRC seems to have no long term programme for political transformation as indicated by their failure to institute a revolutionary base within the Sierra Leonean population. This could be accounted for in part by the new international political atmosphere, particularly the new emphasis by donor agencies for `less strong regime' and more democracy. The NPRC has set up a constitutional review committee to advise it, and has announced a programme to return the country to civilian rule by 1997.

    By contrast, the PNDC did not only build strong political structures, but in essence was able to transform itself to the National Democratic Congress, and its leader, Flight-Lieutenant Rawlings, was transformed to President Rawlings after the Presidential elections of November 1992. It is true that the Ghanaian economy has improved tremendously from its abyss under the civilian regime of Limann. Nonetheless, there are two points that critics of SAP still address: The first is whether or not the social and political costs were justified by what they saw as modest economic gains. Secondly, and this leads form the last point, whether SAP has provided the basis for sustained growth. The highly indebted Ghanaian economy is already showing signs of something going wrong. Inflation is up again, whilst the growth rate has fallen from its `miraculous' levels of the mid-1980's, questioning the assumption that Ghana could be the new Taiwan of West Africa.

    Return to table of contents.


    A man reaps as he sows.
    The fowl fouls the air.
    Ignoble though the act
    Presides itself and flees the land
    Perches on the ngigo*
    Soon, it will have enough dance to contend with.

    A man reaps as he sows.
    I'd rather my two eyes
    Like Oedipus' were gouged out
    Than witness twin-heinous murder.

    A man reaps as he sows.
    For how long can a man--
    Who commits murder when yam plants
    Are hooded with green dense foliage
    And secures asylum
    Within their verdant vineyard hide?
    Does he not commit suicide
    When harmattan strips them bare?

    A man reaps as he sows.
    Patricide in grand style?
    Matricide the scientific way?--
    And this philosophic court
    Has enabling powers to hear this;
    Has enabling might to suspend sentence
    Question our civilization.

    A man reaps as he sows.

    *Ngigo is the rope or stick used for drying clothes outside.

    by Dr. A. A. Monye, Visiting Fulbright Scholar - African Studies, C.C.S.U.

    Return to table of contents.

    African Scholars visit C.C.S.U. by Brian G. Chapman, Graduate student, African Studies

    Lecture by Dr. E. J. Alagoa

    "An African Philosophy of History" was the theme of a lecture presented by Dr. E. J. Alagoa in CCSU's Founders Hall on February 8, 1994. Professor Alagoa is a Senior Fulbright Scholar at Brown University and the President of the Historical Society of Nigeria. He came to CCSU as a guest of the African Studies Program, an event chaired by Professor E. Kapetanopoulos. The lecture was a refreshing thesis on the relationship between African oral tradition, philosophy, and history.

    Dr. Alagoa looked at African proverbs as sources of explicit philosophy within the context of African oral tradition. He utilized traditional proverbs to demonstrate African philosophies as related to the nature of History, the determination of "truth", interpretation and perception of time, and the value of History. Dr. Alagoa's use of proverbs provided an exciting dimension to the fields of African philosophy and history. Through the use of a variety of examples the professor was able to illustrate the depth, complexity, and even the humor that is inherent in the African oral tradition. Most importantly he addressed the value of history as defined in African philosophy and its relevance, universally, to all societies.

    The lecture was well attended considering that we were in the midst of yet another winter snow storm. The event was followed by a lively question and answer session. CCSU students and faculty were honored to have another African Scholar come to their campus.

    Botswana Cultural Music

    Mo Botswana, a song that expresses the pride in Botswana's peace and freedom, was the first in a series of pieces presented in a program of Botswana Cultural Music in CCSU's Alumni Lounge on February 24, 1994. The performer was Mr. Taolo Moshaga from Gabarone, Botswana.

    Mr. Moshaga is a songwriter, musician, and vocalist. He began to sing and play stringed instruments at the age of thirteen. In this performance, he utilized a modified guitar (four stringed) to replicate the sound and resonance of an indigenous instrument called the motongtonyane. Mr. Moshaga has formed a musical group called Lonaka, which toured the UK in 1993. Taola Moshaga has performed solo on the BBC and Botswana Radio. He states that his efforts are geared toward preserving and promoting Botswana culture. He is especially interested in social action and volunteerism. He regularly plays benefits in Africa for the disabled. Neither Mr. Moshaga nor Lonaka have made any formal recordings, however that hasn't been ruled out for the future. The program at CCSU allowed those in attendance to sample a bit of Botswana culture in a very direct way.

    The program began with an overview of the region by Cazzie Iverson, who spoke on historical, economic, and contemporary trends in Botswana. Brian Chapman narrated the event by giving a brief interpretation/translation at the beginning of each song, which was performed in the African language of Tswana. Of the eight pieces performed, Taolo wrote seven of them himself. The themes of these songs reflected the values, traditions, and national pride of the various ethnic peoples of Botswana. The event, which was sponsored by the African Studies Outreach Committee, nearly filled the Alumni Lounge. Many of the people in attendance commented on the beauty and warmth of the music. Gratitude for this truly unique experience was formally expressed to Mr. Moshaga by Marian Calloway, a member of the Outreach Committee. Many in attendance came to personally thank the artist after the performance. Again, for this momentous opportunity, we say to Mr. Taola Moshaga bravo and many thanks!

    Return to table of contents.

    African Studies Notebook - Student view of the November 22nd meeting with Dr. David Uru Iyam of the African Studies Association by Susannah Ortiz, C.C.S.U.

    On Monday November 22 I walked into a room filled with a rather large number of students. To be quite honest I thought of my visit to Founder's Hall solely as a means to quickly gain a few extra credits. But something quite unexpected happened that day. I became entranced by Dr. David Uru Iyam's eloquent words and undying enthusiasm for something he so deeply believed in. At first surprised at the large turnout for the meeting. he quickly embraced his audience's growing interest. He discussed African Studies as it applied to all individuals and institutions that want to broaden their knowledge of African affairs. He told of his mission to bring together those parties interested in Africa.

    Dr. David Iyam also spoke of the individual membership privileges which consisted of subscriptions to various ASA publications including ASA News, African Studies review, Issue: A Journal of Opinion and the ASA membership directory. Privileges ranged from being able to serve on ASA committees to proposing and presenting papers and panels for the program of the annual meeting. Members also are encouraged to make nominations for the Distinguished Africanist Award. I was also surprised to learn what a wide variety of cultures were involved in the African Studies Association. Although most members reside in the United States, a still substantial number of persons come from Canada, Africa and Europe. While the majority of members are teachers and researchers associated with institutions of higher education, membership also includes individuals with careers in international health and development, foreign affairs government and church services as well as social service work. Participants gather annually for a meeting which is held in major universities, colleges and museums all over the United States. Meeting papers that have been distributed on the African continent through the services of PADISI (PanAfrican Documentation and Information System of the United Nations" Economic Commission for Africa) are also presented at the Annual meeting.

    Overall I found the meeting with Dr. Iyam an interesting and productive hour in which I was able to learn the mechanics of an organisation which annually delves into a very interesting continent that remains an integral part of history and the present.

    Islamic Curricula Development by Professor Ahmad Kani
    Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Nigeria

    The 1st International Seminar on Islam and the development of Science and Technology organised by the Islamic Research Center Sokoto, Nigeria was held at the Congregation Hall, Usman Danfodiyo University, Nigeria. Forty papers were presented by participants within and outside Nigeria. One of the conclusions of the Seminar was that international cooperation should be promoted among Muslim Scientists for the purpose of exchange of ideas and that an Islamic curricula Development Center for science and technology should be established by the Muslim Ummah. Nigerian Muslims were urged to recognise that science and technology were integral part of Islam as evidenced in the Quran and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad.

    Return to table of contents.

    CCSU's African Studies Club

    Dr. David Iyam, associate director of the African Studies Association, campus to CCSU in November to help inaugurate the University's club. In his address to an enthusiastic Founders Hall audience, Iyam said, "I had no idea such an impressive crowd would be interested in African Studies here." He said that interest in African Studies is on the rise nationally as traditional concepts in teaching the discipline are changing.

    The African Studies Association brings together people with scholarly and professional interest in Africa, provides services to the Africanist community and publishes scholarly Africanist materials.

    Fifteen members of the CCSU club attended the 35th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association in Boston in December. Dr. Gloria Emeagwali, associate professor of history and coordinator of the African Studies program and Eddie Joyce, chairperson of the local outreach program and assistant professor of education, accompanied the group. Club officers are Ulysses Serpa, president; Velmore Walters, vice president; Saint-Jean Briere, treasurer; Cazzie Iverson, secretary, December Griffith, assistant secretary, and Nyree Pinto, assistant treasurer. CCSU is also represented on the Executive Committee of the New Scholars Organization along with representatives from Cornell, Duke UCLA, and Boston University, by Brian Chapman.

    Also visiting was Dr. Roger Wescott, president of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations, of which Emeagwali is a member of the executive committee. The Society is considering CCSU as a possible site for one of its meetings, which draws about 150 scholars.

    Return to table of contents.

    Views on Boston: The Red Cross Booth - An Observation by Marian Calloway,
    Graduate Student African Studies, C.C.S.U.

    At the Red Cross booth, I saw a poster that prompted me to alert the person manning the booth. I do appreciated the chance to display programs that both teach and motivate people. However the poster of a stylized artistic rendition of an African slithering on the ground holding an empty bowl in one hand with the other stretched out as if begging was repulsive. The Guinean proverb quoted was.. "He who does not cultivate his field will die of hunger." It has been a long time since I have seen such a negative image. I hope that the Red Cross International care enough to change the image. Maybe I missed the boat completely. Maybe the Red Cross International wished to portray a diseased person slithering on his hands and knees begging. The fact is, however, that many farmers do plant and cultivate their fields in the third world and still die of hunger.

    African Studies Association Conference by Patton E. Duncan, CCSU Student.

    It was with a great deal of hope and anticipation that I made the trip with members of the African Studies Club to the 36th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association. This hope proved misplaced. Where were the erudite African thinkers who could speak of their own African experience without being misinterpreted by Eurocentrists?

    I attended a talk on colonial experience and the transformation of identity in Cameroon, Kenya and Zaire, but not one of the panelists was from those countries. Rosaline G. Wilcox of the University of California spoke on the Duala Masquerade tradition. She described the masks as having a ceremonial function, as if in traditional African societies there is a radical division between politics, "ceremony," and culture. Other speakers pointed out perjoratively that the culture of peoples such as the Jeki had been destroyed and transformed into more "peaceful" forms (which would create less resistance to the "civilizing" influence of European imperialism.)

    I was greatly offended by two other speakers, Ralph A. Austin of the University of Chicago and Maria Cattell of Bryn Mawr College. Mr. Austin made the statement that "Culture is a result of tradition, even if it is a culture "we" created, in reference to the destruction of the Jeki cultural identity by "Christian" missionaries and benevolent colonial administrators. Who was the "we" that he was referring to? Did he presume to include me in that "we?" Mrs. Cattell spoke of the "progress" of women in modern Kenya. She failed to mention that this change was having a devastating effect on Kenyan society and the social values that have always been the foundation of African civilization.

    I would like to mention an enlightening talk by Dr. Nathan Chandler of Duke, who analyzed the metaphysical themes in the works of W. E. B. Dubois. He argued that Dubois was not simply offering historical and social investigations of the Negro and African situation. He was also engaged covertly in an inquiry into the basic ideas of difference and identity and how this relates to points of view in history. He pointed out that Dubois had recognized that most historical analysis were the result of only partial views. History should not be read as a reporting of events.

    Return to table of contents.