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Webinar Presenters

Webinar Topic: Sounds from the Other Side: African Popular Music in the Age of Technoculture

In this webinar, Oladipupo Oyeleye rethinks African popular music, using
Afropolitanism as a framework for reading the Post-2000 soundscape to map its
significance as a connecting node for reading global Africa.

Oladipupo Oyeleye is a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He holds Masters degrees in English and Afro-American Studies from the University of Ibadan and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Oladipupo’s research interests are in Contemporary Anglophone Literatures, Post-2000 African popular music, Visual Culture, and African Digital Rhetoric. His dissertation focuses on Afropolitanism as a theory of reading Global Africa. He studies the influence of the African novel and popular music on the global exchange of culture and capital. Oladipupo has contributed to blogs, academic journals, and book chapters in edited volumes.

Sounds from the Other Side: African Popular Music in the Age of Technoculture
Music is one of the most portable cultural materials that travel with little to no impediments, and it has always been at the forefront of the Black Diasporic experience. It has served as an outlet for preserving certain aspects of the cultural memory, a coping mechanism for human suffering, and as a tool for dealing with a broad range of concerns from trauma to pleasure to the celebration of life. In African/African diasporic experience, we may think about its movement through a trans-continental link in Afro-Cuban, Afro-Caribbean, African-American, and African iterations of musical production and circulation. We may also examine its instrumental role in the idea of postnational citizenship with its attendant constraints of national bureaucratic formalities and passport regimes. In all, there is always a gesture—whether deliberate or accidental—to the cross-cultural and trans-historical global flow.  This movement of sounds also influences the artistic process of contemporary music-making and dissemination. These and many other musings on contemporary African music inform this presentation’s critical examination of Africa’s traveling sounds and its diaspora in the twenty-first century. In this talk, I rethink African popular music, using Afropolitanism as a framework for reading the Post-2000 soundscape to map its significance as a connecting node for reading global Africa.

Webinar Topic: Global Health in the Time of Corona

In this fascinating and informative webinar, three academics will explore the impact of the global health crisis on diasporic communities, as well as how a medical school in the US has assisted in grappling with the physician crisis in Africa.

Global Health Speakers

Nicholas Uchechukwu Asogwa is a senior lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. As a philosopher, he specializes in Ethics with a particular interest in Bioethics and Environmental ethics.

Does COVID-19 Compound the Racist and Personal Authenticity Challenges faced by diasporic African people?
Diasporic African people are people of African descent who exited their ancestral homes to settle in other countries, either voluntarily or involuntarily. People in this category are categorized into two – the old and the new diasporic African people. The direct descendants of enslaved Africans in different countries of the world are known as old diaspora Africans, whereas new diaspora Africans refer to those Africans born in Africa, but who voluntarily migrated to their present countries of settlement. For a considerable period in history, both the old and the new diasporic African people have been experiencing common racist problems in the political, economic, social cum employment spheres in their various host countries. This follows from the stigmatization of their ancestral continent as inferior race.  The experienced legacy of discrimination and dehumanization as a result of enslavement and institutionalized racism has instilled in Diaspora Africans the spirit of fear, poverty, and self-doubt. It has impacted negatively in their capacity to utilize sundry opportunities resulting from policy of affirmative actions put in place by their host countries. This development has made some diaspora Africans develop emigration consciousness. It is logical to expect that a person rejected in a foreign land will be readily accepted in his ancestral home. This paper reflects on the challenges besetting the diasporic African people in the era of COVID-19. It argues that social distancing and other related control measures associated with COVID-19 pandemic outbreak compounds the racist and rejection challenges faced by diasporic African people as they may not be welcomed in their ancestral countries, even if they desire to relocate there.

Oncemore Mbeve is a PhD Fellow in the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS), University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. Mbeve’s research interests are in migration and sexual health, and migrants’ strength to survive in the foreign places they find themselves. Mbeve’s PhD research explores how migration determines sexual decisions of young immigrant men living in Johannesburg inner-city. Since 2018, Mbeve has supervised Honours research students in the Social Work department at the University of the Witwatersrand. Mbeve also participates in monthly forum meetings with organizations whose work focuses on psychological, social and economic support for both migrants and South Africans living in and around Johannesburg. Over these few years Mbeve’s research interests in immigrants in South Africa has increased. However, his pragmatic position on research concerning immigrants attempts to shift from a focus  on research and advocacy towards an understanding of immigrants not as victims in South Africa, but as people with strength.

Survival strategies adopted by informal trader Zimbabwean immigrants living in Johannesburg inner-city during COVID-19-induced lockdown in South Africa

Globally, COVID-19 has had unprecedented and devastating effects on various aspects of life. To save lives from the virus, governments around the world introduced several mitigatory strategies that include lockdown, which is restriction to all non-essential internal movements. However, lockdown comes with a fair share of its own challenges. In South Africa, there has been various interventions to cushion citizens, including feeding schemes and financial provisions in form of grants. While these have served as safety nets for vulnerable communities, they have been exclusively provided to South Africa citizens, excluding most immigrants living in South Africa. Immigrants form part of vulnerable groups and their situation is further exacerbated by their reliance on proceeds from the informal economy activities such as sewing, street vending and casual jobs, which were all classified as unessential services during lockdown. How immigrants are surviving during these difficult times remain unknown. Therefore, this study seeks to explore the survival strategies employed by immigrants living in inner-city Johannesburg and how social service organizations were involved, if any, with the daily upkeep of immigrants. Telephonic, one-on-one interviews will be conducted with 12 informal trader Zimbabweans living in Johannesburg inner-city, together with at least three representatives from social services organizations operating within Johannesburg inner-city.  Thematic analysis will be used to analyse data. This study may contribute to providing guidelines to social services organizations on ways they could use to support immigrants. Recommendations will be made to inform programmatic interventions and future research regarding possibly immigrant support during pandemics.

Peggy A. Honoré, DHA, MHA is an Endowed Professor at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center – New Orleans, School of Public Health and School of Medicine. Her primary roles at LSUHSC include course director for health policy and population medicine in addition to directing two programs that she created for the medical school: The Health Policy Honors Program and the Population Health Management Clerkship. Previous professional leadership roles for Dr. Honoré includes COO/CFO for a multi-site healthcare organization, a university Vice President for Finance, chief financial roles at Exxon and McDonald’s Corporation, Chief Research Officer for a government public health agency, and System and Quality Program Director at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Honoré has testified before the U.S. Congress and legislative bodies in 3 states. Her global health experiences include missions with the WHO in 6 European countries as a member of its Coalition of Partners for Strengthening Public Health Systems. She is an invited member to the African & Diaspora Universities Research, Instruction & Engagement Task Force. Dr. Honoré has roughly 50 peer reviewed publications and book chapters on policy, public health quality, and public health finance. Dr. Honoré earned a Doctorate in Health Administration (DHA) with honors (1st in class) from the Medical University of South Carolina and Master of Health Administration (MHA) from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. She has an undergraduate degree in Accounting and is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Contributions by a US Medical School to Strengthening Africa’s Physician Crisis

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were establish by the World Health Organization to address global problems ranging from poverty to injustices. The SDGs represent a blueprint to eliminate challenges that prevent achieving vital humanitarian improvements across all sectors of society. The goals and comprehensive set of targets are designed as catalysts to transform the future.  Accomplishing such comprehensive goals, though, requires interdisciplinary collaborative partnerships among highly skilled professionals as well as with lay persons. This paper describes the experiences of two African Diaspora medical students at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. One student was born in America to immigrant Nigerian parents. The other is a citizen of Nigeria attending medical school in America. Summaries are provided of one student’s experience in a Health Policy Honors Program and of both in a Population Health Management Clerkship.  UN General Assembly Resolutions acknowledge that the SDGs are incorporated with greater frequency into governmental policies of member states.  Statements indicate that institutions need to be equipped with skills to bring about transformations in public policy and create policy frameworks to advance the SDGs. The Health Policy Honors Program was designed to provide students with the practical knowledge to actively participate as physicians in the role that policy plays in improving population health. This knowledge aligns with skills needed to support achievement of the SDG goals.  The Population Health Management Clerkship is a pathway for medical students to learn how to develop population health strategies to reduce cost, improve quality, eliminate inequities, and address social determinants of health. Knowledge gained in the Clerkship was noted by the medical students as incredibly valuable to understanding what can be replicated by physicians in rural areas of Africa to achieve the SDGs for improved health and well-being for all.

Webinar Topic: Imagined Identities, Boundaries and Relations Among People of African Descent

This webinar has been organised under the auspices of the Ubuntu Dialogues Project, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded partnership between the Stellenbosch University Museum and the African Studies Center at Michigan State University. It features African/African American scholars who study race, Blackness and Africanness; a cultural activist; and a television and media practitioner. The panelists will draw on their wide and varied Africa Diaspora engagement experiences to reflect on (mis)understandings of imagined African identities, boundaries and belonging, connections, and relations among people of African descent in the context of Ghana’s Year of Return Campaign.


Frederick W. Gooding, Jr. (PhD, Georgetown University) is an Associate Professor of African American Studies with the Honors College at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX. Gooding critically analyzes race within mainstream media, effectively contextualizing problematic patterns based upon their historical roots. As such, Gooding’s best-known work thus far is You Mean, There’s RACE in My Movie? The Complete Guide to Understanding Race in Mainstream Hollywood, which has been utilized in high schools and universities nationwide. Also, the co-editor of Stories from the Front of the Room: How Higher Education Faculty Overcome Challenges and Thrive in the Academy, Gooding has stayed focused on the practical applications of equity with his latest book, American Dream Deferred (December 2018) carefully detailing the growth and struggles of black federal workers in the postwar era. His latest work, Black Oscar (May 2020), expands his reach into cultural studies by analyzing African American Academy Award winners and how their narratives reflect and reinforce larger American history. Frederick has presented his work on music and ubuntu at Stellenbosch University as part of the seminar program of the Ubuntu Dialogues partnership project.

Njia Kai currently serves as Director/Producer & Senior Consultant for NKSK Events + Productions, LLC; Programming/Production Consultant for Detroit Events Team, LLC; and Performing Arts Manager for Midtown Detroit, Inc. In these roles, Njia curates, produces major public events and manages public programming, special events and performing arts programs for downtown Detroit’s award-winning Campus Martius Park, Beacon Park and other parks, and for Detroit’s university-cultural center institutions, businesses and developers. Njia has completed her 13th year as Director of the African World Festival (AWF), a three-day cultural arts extravaganza presented by C.H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. The AWF is the museum’s largest, annual public outreach program. It attracts 150,000 festival-goers with 200 international vendors, and a global variety of performances and presentations. Njia has also established and directed arts-based summer and after-school mentoring programs; and a community-based “video coffeehouse” featuring African, African American, independent and international film/video productions, film production workshops and special guests. As Adjunct Professor in the Department of Africana Studies at Wayne State University, she taught 300/400 level courses on African American Film Experience and Pan African Cinema. Njia holds a BA degree in Film Directing with a minor in Broadcast Journalism, from Howard University.

Harry Kiiru is a Kenyan graduate student in the Department of African Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison). His scholarly interests lie in the intersections of Blackness, Africanness, and multilingualism within a diasporic context. Having resided in the United States for twenty-three years, Harry’s work explores how the new diaspora (African immigrants) negotiate Blackness, immigration, and language as they navigate insider/outsider locations in their new and former homes. Harry is the African Studies Program Community Engagement Coordinator for the Mandela Washington Fellowship’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and Teaching Assistant for the Department of African Cultural Studies undergraduate course: Introduction to African Cultural Expression. As a justice and equity practitioner, Harry has served for the past seven years in the UW-Madison Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement’s (DDEEA) Learning Communities for Institutional Change & Excellence (LCICE) as a Leadership Institute facilitator, a role which helps faculty, staff, students, and community members develop leadership capacities through cross-race dialogue in the creation of equitable working, teaching, and learning spaces across the university.

Bridget Otoo is a Ghanaian television journalist and media practitioner. She started her career at Skyy TV as a reporter and news anchor, and rose to become the assignment editor. She later joined TV3, Ghana’s multiple award-winning private television network, as a producer and presenter of a weekly feature documentary. There, she became one of the lead anchors on three flagship programs on television in Ghana: Mid-day Live, News360 in the evenings and the breakfast TV show New Day. Bridget has interviewed former and sitting presidents of Ghana. She was the lead reporter at the electoral commission headquarters during the 2016 Ghanaian presidential and parliamentary elections. Bridget holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from the Ghana Institute of Journalism and a Diploma in Screen Writing and Film Directing from the National Film and Television Institute. She is an active Member of the Ghana Journalists Association and the Ghana Institute of Public Relations. In 2017, Bridget took a break from mainstream journalism to focus on building her own media consultancy business, providing content production, media advertising and public relations services to high-profile companies in the banking, mining and hospitality industries. She also runs other business ventures alongside the media business.


Philip Effiong (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison) is an Associate Professor of Theatre Studies at Michigan State University (MSU). Prior to joining MSU, he taught at a number of Nigerian, Ghanaian and American universities. Intrigued by the dispersal of Africans worldwide, Philip’s thesis for his Bachelors was on the Harlem Renaissance while his Master’s degree was in Literature of the African Diaspora. His doctoral thesis focused on African American drama and was eventually published into a book titled, In Search of a Model for African American Drama. Aside from this text, Philip has published several articles, many of which address artistic and religious practices among African descendants in the United States and the Caribbean. At MSU, Dr. Effiong continues to demonstrate keen interest in African and African diasporic societies, literatures and cultures. In addition to teaching a class on African American drama and performance, key areas of his Integrative Studies classes examine global impacts of African history and the African diaspora on current sociopolitical and economic trends. He is also involved with the Ubuntu Dialogues partnership project as the MSU facilitator for virtual student dialogues between MSU and Stellenbosch University students. 


Shingi Mavima (PhD, Michigan State University) is an Assistant Professor in the history department at the University of Toledo. Mavima is graduate of the African American and African Studies department at Michigan State University, and his dissertation is titled Popular Expressions of Southern African Nationalism(s): Transformations, Tensions, and Reconciliations in South Africa and Zimbabwe. His peer-reviewed publications include “Bigger by the Dozens: The Prevalence of Afro-Based Tradition in. Battle Rap” (Journal of Hip-Hop Studies), and “A Historiographical Interrogation of Literature and Discourse on the Gukurahundi Massacres (1982- 1987)” as well as “Stories of Struggle: The Intractability of Early African Fiction from Nascent African Nationalism in Rhodesia” both published in the Journal of Pan-African Studies. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Mavima holds a B.A in international relations from Grand Valley State University (Michigan,) and a Masters of International Affairs degree from Pennsylvania State University. He has published two poetry anthologies, Homeward Bound and Mirage of Days Old, as well as one novel, Pashena. He is also the co-founder and executive director of CLUBHOUSE International, a non-profit organization dedicated to working with Zimbabwean primary school students in community-building projects.

Akosua Adomako Ampofo is Professor of African and Gender Studies at the University of Ghana (UG), and President of the African Studies Association of Africa (ASAA). From 2010-2015 she was the Director of the Institute of African Studies (UG) and was also the foundation Director of UG’s Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy. At the heart of Akosua’s work are questions of identity and power – within families, institutions, political and religious spaces, and the knowledge industry – including the significance of gender, class, and race. Akosua is a member of various professional associations including ASAA, ASA, International Sociological Association, CODESRIA, Ghana Studies Association; and serves on various boards including the Social Sciences Research Council’s Next Generation Program. She is Editor-in-Chief of the Contemporary Journal of African Studies, co-editor of the Critical Investigations into Humanitarianism in Africa blog, and the African Studies Review. Akosua holds a PhD in Sociology from Vanderbilt University US); a Postgraduate Diploma in Spatial Planning from the University of Dortmund (Germany); and a MSc in Development Planning and BSc in Architecture from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi (Ghana).


Upenyu S. Majee (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison) is the Project Manager for the Ubuntu Dialogues: Museums and Communities Connect, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded partnership between the MSU African Studies Center and Stellenbosch University Museum. Upenyu also teaches an Integrative Studies in the Arts and Humanities course that focuses attention on conventional and alternative portraits of historical and contemporary Africa. Prior to joining MSU, Upenyu served as Academic Coordinator for the YALI/Mandela Washington Fellowship; as Lead researcher with the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes on the African Humanities Map project; and as Academic Lead and Liaison with the PEOPLE Program at the University of Wisconsin; and as a High School Teacher and Principal in Zimbabwe. He holds a joint PhD in Educational Policy Studies (Comparative and International Education concentration) and Development Studies, and master’s degrees in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis and African Languages and Literature from the University of Wisconsin–Madison; and a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Linguistics from the University of Zimbabwe.

Webinar Topic: Exploring Global Challenges of African Diasporic Communities

In this exciting, informative and stimulating Zoom webinar, four academic scholars will explore the challenges encountered by African diasporic communities as they navigate new social, economic and political realities in a global context.

Exploring Global Challenges Speakers

Elena Clarke is a candidate for the Master in Design Studies in Critical Conservation at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Her research has primarily engaged with the histories of mobile populations through questions of home-making in host countries that extend beyond basic shelter. Her focus while she is at Harvard has been the study of the multi-scalar forces that drive eviction in Rome, Italy and the research of alternative and adaptive housing models for young men living in Rome who have migrated from countries in West Africa. This has involved ethnographic work with local West African diasporic communities, supported through a grant from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard. She will be continuing this work in Rome next year through the Sinclair Kennedy Fellowship. During her time as a graduate student in Boston she has also held a fellowship at the Sasaki Foundation and has co-founded a nonprofit organization in the United States that focuses on the connection between the environmental qualities of emergency shelter spaces and mental health.

Presenting Iterative Domestic Space: shifting focus to the social and spatial homemaking strategies of West African diasporic communities living in Rome

In this paper I discuss the domestic space-making social and spatial strategies engaged through the collective practices of communities living in Rome (IT) who have migrated from Senegal, Mali, and The Gambia. These social and spatial strategies serve to contest the limitations placed on their physical mobilities through existing institutional and humanitarian frameworks in Rome as well as limitations placed on their social mobilities through widely-circulated negative characterizations. Their situated struggles are particularly visible at domestic sites, where processes of homemaking are frequently disrupted through eviction and the forced removal of occupants from physical sites. For this paper, I use data from my own on-site ethnographic fieldwork, collected between 2018 – 2020. The limited shelter-related responses of many institutions and solidarity groups in Rome rely on the rhetoric of emergency and crisis, which both indicate a need for urgent prescribed interventions by expert intermediaries. Moreover, the implied passivity of those receiving aid from these groups reifies unequal power relations while often neglecting to center different cultural perspectives when projecting migrants’ needs. By comparison, attention to the social and spatial strategies of migrants focuses on their own competencies within the context of their lived experiences in order to promote their own iterations of alternative possibilities. I will analyze this comparison through the framework of Critical Race Theory (CRT), widely engaged by scholars of the diaspora in America. In particular, I will use the CRT tenets of “Intersectionality” in order to advocate for a positioning of migrants’ own strategies over paternalistic interventions and “Critiques of Liberalism” in order to refute the neutrality of locally-applied laws and to promote action-based strategies over rights-based remedies. Finally, I will use the CRT tenet of the “Permanence of Racism” to examine the ordinariness of racist encounters in migrants’ lives in contrast to media and humanitarian portrayals that rely on exception and shock value. I argue that analyzing migrants’ current situation in Rome through the framework of CRT orients us away from the rhetoric of immediate crisis and towards an understanding of a chronic societal injury that requires sustained commitment to negotiating the daily experience of injury.

István Tarrósy is Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science and International Studies, University of Pecs, and part-time Professor at Corvinus University of Budapest. He also directs the Hungarian Africa Research Center. He was a Fulbright Visiting Research Professor at the Center for African Studies of the University of Florida in 2013-14. His research interests include Afro-Asian relations, China-Africa dynamics, the international relations of Sub-Saharan Africa and global African migrations. He publishes widely, his articles appeared in the journals African Studies Quarterly, Twentieth Century Communism, Society and Economy, European Spatial Research and Policy, Politics in Central Europe; wrote book chapters and books with LIT Verlag, Palgrave Macmillan, Zed Books, Peter Lang and L’Harmattan. As a Janos Bolyai Research Fellow of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences his most recent work and book project focuses on the ‘neglected African diaspora’ of post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe, and the Africa-policies of the Visegrad countries. He is Associate Editor of the Hungarian Journal of African Studies (Afrika Tanulmanyok).

Presenting Extending Global African Diaspora Research: The Case of the ‘Neglected African Communities’ of Post-Communist Central Europe

This paper seeks to extend the academic discussion and research of the global African diaspora by drawing attention to Africans living in post-Soviet spaces, in particular, in post-Communist Central European countries. So far, both literature and foreign policies of countries of the former Eastern Bloc hardly ever made mention of this ‘neglected diaspora’. First, the paper underscores the relevance of specific research connected with African communities across Central and Eastern Europe, as well as present-day Russia. Second, it introduces the history, motivations, background and contemporary situation of the marginal but growing African populations in countries of the Visegrad Four (V4), i.e. Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland. It will present a detailed case study on how finally the Hungarian government implements a pragmatic foreign policy (partly) on Africa and African development co-operation. In this effort, it considers Africans who either had obtained a university degree before 1989 – the year of regime change – at a Hungarian university, or came to the country during the democratic rule, as true bridges: they can foster newly defined relations. At the same time, these African communities are also part of the pan-African framework of understanding transnational interactions and connections with the motherland. The place, role and potentials of the African diasporas in the V4 countries will be part of the discussion. All these questions have recently become even more relevant, as increased irregular migration flows towards the European Union via the Serbian–Hungarian border region of the Schengen Zone were taking place in the first half of 2015 and the policies the V4 governments introduced in the wake of this unprecedented push made Hungarian, Slovakian, Czech and Polish societies more skeptical and intolerant about the ‘other’, including Africans. Based on substantial field research and an ongoing project supported by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’ Bolyai Fellowship, the complexity of reopening diplomatic representations, organizing high-level state visits, revitalizing scholarship programs, fostering technology transfers, investment schemes and development aid as part of governmental ‘Africa Strategies’ will be looked at in detail. The major angle of the paper, however, will stay focused: to raise awareness about the need to extend the horizon of global African diaspora research including the ‘Central and Eastern Europe experience’, which, so far, has been scarcely dealt with in academic debate.  

Shobana Shankar’s work focuses on cultural history and politics in West Africa and the Global South, bringing together the fields of history, anthropology, religion, and public health. She is finishing a book, Race between the Black Atlantic and Indian Ocean (under contract with the African Arguments series of Zed Books) that examines how Africans and Indians have attempted to understand and negotiate their complicated racial interrelationships in spheres like religion, science, and education where postcolonial peoples have sought autonomy from Euro-American power. She is also author/co-editor of three books: Religions on the Move: New Dynamics of Religious Expansion in Globalizing World, with Afe Adogame (Brill, 2013); Who Shall Enter Paradise: Christian Origins in Muslim Northern Nigeria, c. 1890-1975 (Ohio University, 2014); and Transforming Religious Landscapes in Africa: The Sudan Interior Mission, Past and Present (Africa World Press, 2018), with Barbara Cooper et al. Her most recent essays for non-specialist audiences include one for The Conversation about what the U.S. can learn from Nigeria about immunization and public health and another in The Washington Post on the history of eugenicist racial practices at the Mississippi State Penitentiary which has presently experienced an epidemic of prisoner deaths.

Presenting Blackness and Anti-Blackness in Asia

This paper probes the history of the African student diaspora to India; Africans
today account for the nation’s largest contingent of foreign students. I ask the simple
question of how African students began going to India in the early postcolonial period,
when the Indian government reported that African students did not want to take
scholarships established specifically to strengthen transnational relationships.
Specifically, I explore how Senegalese president Léopold Senghor created an
iconography around India, through the idea of Dravidians from an obscure linguistic term. I suggest that Senghor’s creative construction of Afro-Dravidianism in relation to the culturalpolitics of the time reveals how, without and before the movement of peoples, diaspora became the richly multilayered intellectual centerpiece of a new kind of intellectual migration. Senghor was, of course, himself a student in France, and many African intellectuals of his generation went to European countries, the U.S., and the Soviet Union; studying in China or India was still a way off. In 1974, Senghor, with Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, created Indo-African studies departments at the University of Dakar and Annamalai University. This project was a non-Western alternative to “area studies,” serving the desire for a universal cultural education to introduce in postcolonial societies. Senghor studied Dravidian linguistics and politics, particularly the South Indian struggle for independent statehood for the “aboriginal inhabitants” of pre-Aryan India. How Senghor harnessed négritude, Cheikh Anta Diop’s Afrocentrism, and other racial-cultural idioms to construct value in transregional education and migration is a fascinating story that reveals a lot about the origins of African student migration to Asia that were not simply out of necessity but instead intellectual reasons that have been overlooked.

Emmanuel Chima is a doctoral student in the School of Social Work at Michigan State University. His research interest is trauma and psychosocial wellbeing among refugee youth and older adults. Between 2015 and 2017, he served the community at Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi as an academic coordinator for Jesuit Refugee Service and as an English language instructor for the Student Refugee Program of World University Service of Canada.

Presenting Refugee Youth Identity Formation at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa district, Malawi

Refugee camp life is problematic for youth because it impacts how they construct identity, a sense of belonging and citizenship. This study looks at how the refugee experience affects youth as they form their identities in a protracted refugee situation. Fourteen in-person, in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with youth at Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi over a period of ten weeks in 2018. The findings showed that the liminality inherent in a protracted refugee experience intensifies the need for social grounding. The educational experiences and opportunities of the youth emerged as tangible coping mechanisms for them. They collectively provided social grounding, and an alternative identity grounded in aspiration. Closely associated with such aspiration was the prospect of refugee resettlement. Aspirational identity may hold the promise of temporal escape as refugee youth navigate identity formation. However, the refugee experience has the effect of limiting even the imagined social futures of affected youth. Targeted interventions are therefore needed to address the detrimental effects of youth development within the context of refugee camp. A healthy identity formation informs the degree to which refugee youth become fully functioning members of society and better self-actualized individuals.

Webinar Topic: Beyond the Return

After a historic Year of Return in 2019, which generated significant economic and cultural capital for countries such as Ghana, how can the pan-African diaspora with Africa generate sustainable business and economic engagement that advances the prosperity Africa and her diaspora? This online panel will examine and discuss strategies for economic engagement among the African diaspora, including but not limited to two-way trade and investment between the US and Africa. The targeted outcomes will be a new narrative for Africa supported by her Diaspora and a framework for collaboration based on public policy, business partnerships, investment, transaction platform, creative sector renaissance and events.

Beyond the Return Speakers

Mr. Yohannes Assefa is one of the leading experts on structured trade in Africa. Mr. Assefa has worked in 13 Sub-Saharan African countries in establishing agricultural commodities exchanges and various types of structured trading mechanisms. Mr. Assefa served as Director of Agriculture and Agribusiness at the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub from 2017-2019. The Hub worked to deepen regional integration, increasing the competitiveness of select regional agricultural value chains, among other things. As part of his work, Mr. Assefa helped to facilitate 1.8 million mt of grain in the East Africa region for a total value of nearly $800 million He worked also with USAID to assist in the design and establishment of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange. From 2012 to 2017, Assefa was involved in designing and establishing exchanges in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. He worked in Mozambique, Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria on warehouse receipt systems development and regional trade.

Dr. Robert (Bob) J. Brown is CEO & Founder of B&C International, a global business management consulting firm headquartered in High Point, NC. He is also founder of the International BookSmart Foundation, a nonprofit that to date has shipped over 5 million books, countless teachers’ supplies and opened over 300 libraries on the continent of Africa. Dr. Brown is a trusted advisor to the most influential individuals, corporations and movements of the 20th and 21st centuries. He entered the field of law enforcement in 1956, serving first as a police officer for the City of High Point and then as a highly regarded federal agent with the U.S. Department of the Treasury focusing on federal narcotics cases. In 1960, Brown left the Bureau to return to High Point NC and open B&C Associates, a public relations company. As a pioneer in crisis management, multi-cultural communication and race relations, Brown advised, traveled with, and raised money for the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; was a member of the corporate plans board of Carl Byoir & Associates (the largest public relations firm in the world at the time), and was a close friend and confidant to the Mandela family. 

Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa has several times been described as a sterling Nigerian amazon, an outstandingly brilliant broadcaster who later transmitted to an outstandingly brilliant parliamentarian. A worthy, compassionate, fair, firm, respected and courageous leader. Fondly called ”Mother Teresa of the tube” because of her compassion for the less privileged, and now ”Lady Diaspora” for pioneering efforts in putting Diaspora Affairs on the front burner. Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa spent 15 years of meritorious service at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) where she stood out for her ability to use journalism to bring succour to millions of Nigerians especially children, women and the less privileged.  We can’t forget the story of Mary, the miracle baby, story of a girl being claimed by 3 mothers, which Abike painstakingly investigated for 8 years to a logical conclusion. Born in Jos, Plateau State, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa represented the people of Ikorodu Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives from June 2003 to June 2015, she served as Chairman House Committee on Media and Public Affairs (June 2003 to June 2008).  As Chairman, she worked at giving the House a credible image through absolute openness and transparency, And as Chairman House Committee on Diaspora Affairs (June 2008 till 2015), her major spotlight was in her advocacy and calls for justice and fairness for Nigerians abroad.  From China, Pakistan, Libya, to USA, Northern Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Brazil and many more countries, her intervention was impactful.

Mr. Paulo Gomes is a global business leader, active environmentalist and a key political actor in West Africa. He is also Founder of Constelor Investment Holdings, a strategic investment and advisory firm. His constant search for how to reposition his native Guinea Bussau and help it become stable and prosperous is what led him to initiate the Bissau Economic Forum, now in its second edition. The forum is a bi-annual discussion and investment forum on cooperation and the economic transformation of Guinea Bissau. Stakeholders from civil society, private sector and the government are present in order to attract foreign investment and create jobs. In addition to Gomes’ acute knowledge of the African politics and policies developed through his political engagement, support to several governments and as an executive director of the World Bank, Gomes founded Paulo Gomes and Partners. Prior, he established Paulo Gomes and Partners, the natural outcome of years advising governments and businesses on strategic investments as well as years serving on boards of firms such as AFIG, Asky Airlines and Ecobank. As the founder of the South East Asia-Africa Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Advisory Board, Gomes’ business touches all continents and interests. 

As a Dallas resident of Ugandan descent, Elsa Juko-McDowell is a professional small business owner with successful strategic leadership, client-centered management, and sales experience. She has worked every aspect of the mortgage industry, representing sellers, investors, and banks for the past nineteen years.  She now owns multiple businesses which include real-estate investment, consulting, and domestic and international travel. For the past three years, Elsa has been Chairwoman of the East African Chamber of Commerce where she worked to empower women. She brings her razor-sharp business savvy and years of experience in sales and marketing to her projects. Elsa is passionate about helping her community grow and thrive in business.

Lee Karuri is a Kenyan business leader, entrepreneur and architect who has a passion for Kenya as well as Africa’s economic and social development. He is Chairman of Kenya’s new trade and investment platform, FINTRINET. He has participated actively in the last 10 years as a member of key organizations that champion Kenya’s Economic Development Agenda. These include the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) the umbrella body of the business community in Kenya where he has served as chairman. He currently serves in the Board of Trustees of KEPSA. Mr. Karuri has also served as a member of the National Steering Committee of Vision 2030 from 2006 to 2008 that developed and published Kenya’s National Development Vision 2030. He served as a member of the National Committee that developed the Economic Recovery Strategy (ERS) that was the basis of Kenya’s growth and government Socio-economic development agenda between 2003 and 2007. On service related to international organizations, he has served as Chairman for the Danish Advocacy Fund for Kenya Private Sector Development. He has also served on the board of Transparency International (TI) Kenya Chapter that champions good governance and integrity in the management of public affairs.

Prince Akinwale Roy Ojomo is the Chief Engagement Officer of Diaspora Innovation Institute, a social enterprise with focus on the engagement of Africans in the Diaspora, Partnerships between government, private sector and civil societies, Development of several initiatives in Africa, SME Launch and Support in Africa. He is also a Consultant at the Centre for Management Development CMD supporting the Centre on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Public-Private Sector Partnerships PPP. Currently, he serves as a Consultant to African Universities on Business Incubator program and Innovation with a focus on Technology, Agriculture, Creative industry etc. Prior, he was the Executive Producer of Global Culture TV Show in Washington DC USA and had worked with Citibank, Key Bank and Chams, where he was actively involved with process improvement, developmental projects and creating awareness about diversity in the workplace. His determination to see a better Africa starting with the country of his birth – Nigeria has led to his current projects which include but are not limited to DIASPORA 100, African Diaspora Annual Conference, SME HUB and Start-Up Lab in Nigeria.

Ronald C. Parker is the President and CEO of The National Association of Securities Professionals (NASP), the preeminent securities advocacy organization for minorities and women in the country and around the world.Prior to joining NASP, Parker was President and CEO of The Executive Leadership Council (ELC), an organization representing global black CEOs, senior executives and corporate board members of Fortune 1000 and global 500 organizations. Prior to leading The ELC, Parker was with PepsiCo for nearly 30 years and retired from his position as Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Labor Relations and Global Diversity & Inclusion. During his time at PepsiCo, Parker served in several positions across multiple functions including field operating and corporate staff roles. Currently, Parker serves on the Board of The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), the Board of Baylor Scott & White Hospital, the Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board of Procter & Gamble, the Board of Visitors for Howard University’s School of Business, the United Way Foundation of Metropolitan Dallas Board, and is a former Board Member of the Executive Leadership Council.

Michael Sudarkasa is the Chief Executive Officer of Africa Business Group. A commercial attorney (intellectual property, broadcast media, and cross border transactions) and economic development practitioner, his areas of speciality include African private sector development, international trade and investment promotion and facilitation, corporate finance and private equity investment. With over 25 years of professional experience, Michael has expertise in the fields of corporate law (intellectual property, commercial, international transactions, banking and finance), corporate finance, private equity, development consulting, and project management. Having lived, worked, and travelled extensively across Africa (33 countries), Michael has worked on behalf of multilateral, bilateral, government, NGO/ CSO and corporate clients throughout his career. He has served as a consultant for a variety of clients and over the course of his career he has consistently worked in facilitating public-private partnerships and has also served as a facilitator in a number of international, cross-cultural, and trans-Atlantic business development roles

As the Interim Executive Director of Afrilabs, Ms. Nekesa Were serves as broadly responsible for building community, programs and partnerships that work together to ensure a thriving innovation economy in Africa. Afrilabs currently has a network of 202 innovation hubs spread across 46 African countries. For the last decade, she has worked at the heart of Africa’s technology and innovation ecosystem, most recently as Managing Director of the iHub, Kenya’s leading innovation hub where she led an open innovation culture that was integral in ensuring quick maturity of the Kenyan innovation ecosystem. During her leadership at the iHub over 600 startups received business support services, 100 of those selected for incubation and acceleration programs, these companies raised over USD 40 million in investments and contributed over 40,000 jobs to East Africa’s economy. Prior to iHub, she worked with several grassroot organizations and non-profits to develop their digital strategies and operations. Ms. Were has served on several boards and is currently a Board Member at Creatives Garage, a high impact space dedicated to creating economic value and jobs for creatives in Kenya; Africa Tech and Creatives Group, a network of 300 members from across Africa who are working to ensure that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement works for Africans, specifically startups and small to medium-sized businesses; and Missing Child Kenya, a platform to share information about missing children across Kenya with an aim to bring them all home safe.

Beyond the Return Moderators

Based in Nairobi, Dr. Wilmot Allen is a healthcare private equity investor and entrepreneur who founded VentureLift Africa, an international transaction advisory firm and fin-tech platform, to connect businesses and entrepreneurs for trade, investment, supply chain procurement, tech transfer and talent engagement and advisory services. Dr. Allen is a Venture Partner with RH Managers, a private equity fund investing in healthcare, based in Johannesburg. The RH Africa Fund I is a targeted $100 million fund investing in southern and eastern Africa. He was recently a management consultant with the Africa Union Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and developed the strategy and operational plan for the new Africa Public Health Foundation which is an integral part of the institution’s COVID-19 response for Africa. He is a member of the AU CDC’s COVID-19 Response Task Force and a Steering Committee member of Kenya’ new investment and trade platform, FINTRINET. He was previously the Director of East with an U.S. investment firm, CrossBoundary LLC, leading the transaction advisory practice for East Africa from Nairobi. Under his leadership, the group served as the transaction team for a USAID initiative, the East Africa Trade and Investment Hub. In two years, the team facilitated over $100 million in closed investment transactions which established the firm’s most successful advisory platform. Prior, Allen worked with the Private Equity, Financial Institutions and Infrastructure groups with the International Finance Corporation, as an M&A investment banker with JPMorgan, a venture capital investor with the Commonwealth Enterprise Fund and as a Private Placements and IPO investment banker with Merrill Lynch. Allen was selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader and is a political economist researching African Sovereign Wealth Funds and Diaspora economic engagement with Africa.

Hillary Andoh is the founder and CEO of HSA PR – a public relations agency that specializes in elevating brands and entities as well telling stories that capture the essence of brands and personalities. Prior, Ms. Andoh worked for reputable Washington D.C. based law firms such as Patton Boggs, Crowell & Moring and Paul Weiss LLP. Over the past decade, she has devoted her time and efforts to assisting with the structuring and maturation of the Ghanaian fashion industry. She spearheads and facilitates discussions on branding, public relations and the business of fashion. Through her proprietary motivational workshops, Ms. Andoh has utilized her creativity and communication skills to support youth education and literacy. Ms. Andoh served as the Washington D.C. Chapter chair of the American Women for International Understanding organization (AWIU), led the Public Relations efforts of Ghana Fashion and Design week a Vogue Italia partnership from its inception in 2012 through 2016 and currently serves as an advisor to the board of Fashion Ghana. She is an optimistic and passionate professional who is ready to assist in the development of Ghana and the African continent as a whole.

Pan-Africanism: Evolution of the Movement, the Impact of COVID-19 and the Way Forward

The authors review the initiation and evolution of Pan-Africanism, the contributions of its chief proponents and both its historical and contemporary institutional manifestations. The multi-sectoral benefits of continental unification are articulated, as well as the challenges and constraints that must be resolved in order to enable such unification to achieve fruition. The alternative paths toward bridging collaborative engagement among continental Africans and Africans in the diaspora are addressed, including interdisciplinary research, collective political action, intensified involvement with the African Union, with regional collectivities, multi-lateral humanitarian and philanthropic organizations and an accelerated global participation in implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly as relates to African countries and to vulnerable African diasporadic communities in Europe, Middle East, Asia, North America, Central & South America and the Caribbean. Finally, the anticipated impacts of a Pan-African transformation of individuated sectors are examined, e.g. international diplomacy, foreign direct investment & trade management, public health, biogenic & anthropogenic disaster resilience, armed conflict minimization, crime and corruption control, environmental sustainability, biodiversity protection, climate change mitigation, primary, secondary and higher education expansion, gender equality, immigration rationalization, enhanced employment opportunities, increased religious tolerance, as well as both food and water security.

Dr. Gilbert Rochon serves as Co-Chair of the African Renaissance and Diaspora Network’s (ARDN) Higher Education Initiative & Chair of ARDN’s African & Diaspora Universities Research, Instruction & Engagement (ADURIE) Task Force. He is an Adjunct Professor at Tulane University’s School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine’s Dept. of Health Policy & Management and a Research Scientist with the Dept. of Public Health Sciences at Xavier University of Louisiana. Dr. Rochon was the 6th President of Tuskegee University and previously served as Associate Vice President for Collaborative Research & Engagement at Purdue University. Rochon received the Ph.D. in Urban & Regional Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in Health Services Administration from Yale University and the BA degree from Xavier University of Louisiana. Rochon was a United Nations University Fellow in Sudan, a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Thailand and was NATO country Project Director (NPD) for the Mediterranean Dialogue Earth Observatory in Morocco. He is an IEEE Senior Member and member of the African Association for Remote Sensing of Environment (AARSE). His prior federal government service includes appointments with NASA, US Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO), USDA Forest Service and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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