African Studies Newsletter Vol. 6, No. 3 Announcements
647 Williams Hall * University of Pennsylvania *  Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305 *  Phone: (215) 898-6971

From the Director's Desk Dr. Tukufu Zuberi 
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MenuDirector's DeskResearch ReportSummer 1999Study AbroadEvents CalendarCall for papersAnnouncements and OpportunitiesFellowships and ScholarshipsLanguage NewsConferencesArchivesReturn to African Studies Center main page
Dr. Tukufu Zuberi, Director of African Studies Center 

return to African Studies Center main pageThe University's lengthy involvement with Africa began with the founding of the University Museum in 1887 and an emphasis on ethnographic research and study collections. This was augmented in the 1940s and 50s with an Africa program focused on language and area instruction; after a period of quiescence, African Studies was revived in the 1980s, and under the leadership of the former Director Sandra Barnes crystallized in the current African Studies Center. 
 

As the new Director of African Studies, I look forward to confronting the complexities inherent in the emerging in the Global world of the 21st Century. In order to confront these challenges, the African Studies Center will encourage and work with students and faculty to develop a true understanding of international diversity through contact with African cultures and languages. Toward these ends, we will continue to provide opportunities in international education as well as to devise ways to expose our students to the rich cultural diversity within the Philadelphia community. 

The involvement of professional schools has increased the chances that students on rigorous pre-professional tracks will have a broader understanding of the major role to be played by Africa in the 21st century. Medical students have access to the African Studies curriculum in combination with rotations abroad. Students at Wharton can have the benefit of dozens of exchange scholars moving back and forth between the African continent and their own institutions. 

We are known for our leadership in the innovation of internet resources for African Studies. We maintain the nation's foremost African Studies web site, that includes K-12 teaching materials and advanced reference materials, and is visited by more than 1,000,000 web viewers per month. 

During the coming years we plan to offer an increasingly Africa-rich academic environment with exciting classes and programs. We propose to help prepare our students and community to function as global citizens; engage in careers in Africa or focusing on Africa; and to develop their capacity to act as members of dual intellectual environments in Africa and the United States. 

 


Research Report
Deputy Director, Center for Women's Studies and Gender Analysis
Egerton University, Njoro, Kenya 
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Women, Leadership And Culture: Lessons Learned From The 1997 National And Civic ElectionsKenya, like most other countries today is committed to gender equity for its citizens. Several efforts have been made to ensure that women receive better opportunities by both the government through it's agency the Women's Bureau, the numerous NGOs and grassroots women's groups and the international donor agencies. Kenya has ratified the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and hosted the third UN Decade Conference for Women in July 1985 in Nairobi which created a lot of gender awareness and sensitization in the country. Since then the government has made deliberate efforts to elevate women to senior positions and has even named a commission to review the laws that are oppressive to women, among other efforts. In the ongoing constitutional review process women are playing a more significant role than would have been possible in the past. As a result of all these efforts and commitment towards gender equity there is today a lot of evident activity around gender in the country - the frequent coverage of gender in the daily newspapers and the biggest participation ever of women in the last general elections of December 1997 bears testimony to this. However, despite all these efforts and good intentions towards promoting gender equity plus the resources and time spent, the level of success is not impressive. One of the most disappointing examples of this is the outcome of the recent general elections, in which Kenya had the largest number of women parliamentary and civic candidates ever recorded in our political history. For the first time, we had two women Presidential candidates; a very impressive achievement even by the standards of the older democracies of the Western world. There were expectations of an equally impressive outcome, given the initial effort made by all concerned and also given that all the political parties had for the first time included gender in their campaign platform. 

However for reasons difficult to comprehend, the outcome for the women candidates was very dismal and very disappointing. The stronger woman presidential candidate performed poorly and out of the fifty parliamentary candidates only four got elected. The pattern was the same for civic elections and for the nominated members. Following the elections the winning party did not appoint a woman to the cabinet and did not meet its campaign pledge of ensuring at least 30% nominated seats for women. Only one woman was appointed as an assistant minister and given a portfolio in one of the low- profile ministries, Ministry of Culture and Social Services, where the Women's Bureau is located. Another strange event that took place immediately after the elections was the establishment of the Ministry of Women and Youth Affairs. This ministry was well received by women although they protested the appointment of a conservative male politician to head it. A few weeks later the new ministry was scrapped without any explanation. The Women's Bureau and the only woman assistant minister were transferred back to the Ministry of Culture and Social Services . 

This poor performance by women in the general elections was attributed to several factors. The most commonly cited explanation for gender disparity is culture which is either assumed to be static or changing very slowly. But according to sociologists culture is dynamic, learned and continually changing and therefore cannot continuously be used to rationalize gender inequality. Meaningful changes in gender dynamics will have to start with a critical examination and understanding of how gender differences are created, maintained and rationalized by different cultures in Kenyan society. This is because the cultural beliefs, values and norms of any tribal group are subscribed to by all members of that group, bind all members to the group and prescribe certain views and behavior about gender. It is in understanding these cultural dynamics that we can begin to understand the way culture interacts with political activities and impacts on women's participation. The aim of this study is to: 1) Review relevant feminist theories that explain gender differences in society; 2) Critically examine the Kenyan cultures on how they create and maintain gender differences; 3) Attempt to provide suggestions on how to begin to address gender disparities in the Kenyan public sphere, bearing in mind the cultural realities. 

My hope as a researcher and practitioner of student affairs in Kenya is that there are lessons that can be learned by the Kenyan public universities as they begin to address the challenges facing them in student affairs management that impact negatively on the quality of college education and campus experience for students, staff and the society at large. 

Dr. Esther Keino 

Fulbright Visiting African Research Scholar 
International Literacy Institute & African Studies Center 
University of Pennsylvania (Spring 1999). 
 


SUMMER 1999
 
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International Summer School in Dakar, Senegal: Dual Intellectual Citizenship (DIC) The Ford Foundation awarded a three-year grant to the Center, aimed at institutionalizing "Dual Intellectual Citizenship." This is a program that combines the sharing of knowledge being produced in Africa with training and research that will produce new kinds of scholarly interactions between Africa and the West. The core of this innovative project is an annual International Summer School to be held under the auspices of the Center, CODESRIA and WARA in Dakar, Senegal. 

return to African Studies Center main pageThe first International Summer School was held from June 9th to July 28th 1999 at the West African Research Center in Dakar, Senegal. CODESRIA resources both human and material were used extensively for the program. 

There were thirteen students. Eight came from the United States and five from Africa. The American students were Deena Amiry, Niklas Hultin, Rudolph Ware, and Sabina Perrino from the University of Pennsylvania; Adrian P. Hull from the University of Colorado; Ellie Higgins, University of Texas at Austin; Bjorn Westgard, University of Illinois; Leslie Fadiga Stewart, University of Indiana at Bloomington. 

The African students, all registered at Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar, were Mamoudou Sy, Cousson Traore, and Ibra Sene from Senegal , Abdourahmane Idrissa from Niger, and Moulaye Ismael Keita from Mauritania. One seminar was scheduled every week. Reading materials (5 to 10 articles) related to the weekly theme were distributed a week before each presentation. 

The issues reviewed were the following: art and popular culture in Africa (Prof. Tshikala Biaya, CODESRIA); gender issues in Africa (Dr. Fatou Sow, IFAN Cheikh Anta Diop); women and civil society (Dr. Maria Nzomo, CODESRIA); African beliefs and knowledge today (Dr. Issiaka P. Layele, University Gaston Berger, St. Louis, Senegal); Urbanization in Africa (Mr. Koumakh Ndour, Directeur of ENEA, Dakar); cultures and national identities, philosophy and contemporary Africa (Dr. Bassirou Dieng, University Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar); rural development in Africa (Dr. Ebrima Sall, CODESRIA). 

In addition to seminars, two field trips were made. The first one took place two weeks after the program had started. Participants went to Saint- Louis city where they visited Gaston Berger University, the other university of Senegal. They met with students and faculty. A week before the end of the program a second field trip was made to the Republic of The Gambia. This trip was mainly meant to show foreign students some degree of cultural variance within the same people (Sene-Gambian) that resulted fromcolonization. Finally, some participants simultaneously managed to do some research at the Senegalese National Archives while others had tutorial classes in African languages (Wolof and Hausa). 

We are profoundly thankful to WARC for its logistic support and all the facilities they provided to make the program a success. Special thanks to Dr. Fiona McLaughin, WARC outgoing Director and Dr. Oumar Ndongo, Associate Director as well as their assistants and all the staff. We are equally grateful to CODESRIA for their support. 

Mamadou Sow 
Site Coordinator 

 
 

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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