Penn African Studies Newsletter, March/May '96

Penn African Studies Newsletter, March/May '96

News Briefs

* Exchange Programs
Three new linkage agreements involving Penn and universities in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to be in place during the 1996-7 academic year. They involve the University of Ghana in Legon, the University of Nairobi in Kenya and the University of Zimbabwe in Harare.
The most comprehensive is an exchange program between the University of Zimbabwe and University of Pennsylvania that will in initially involve undergraduate engineering and liberal arts students from Penn taking courses in Zimbabwe and students of faculty from the University of Zimbabwe taking courses, participating in research and teaching in Philadelphia. Penns School of Medicine is currently negotiating with Zimbabwes medical school to establish research and clinical relationships.
In the Zimbabwe exchange, Penn is acting as the lead institution for the African Studies Consortium that includes Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore Colleges. This means students and faculty of all four institutions will be able to participate in the linkage. Undergraduate participants will be instructed in Shona or Ndebele language and in Zimbabwe culture.
Swarthmore College is the lead institution for a study abroad exchange with the University of Ghana in Legon. The program is mainly for undergraduates but also involves faculty exchanges. Students will attend the University of Ghana under the guidance of a professor working directly with Swarthmore, have access to individual faculty tutors, and be encouraged to develop independent research projects. Instruction in Twi will be available to participants.
Bryn Mawr College is the lead institution for the consortium in an exchange with the University of Nairobi, Kenyas primary institution of higher learning. The program again stresses undergraduate study abroad, but also involves Nairobi faculty coming to Philadelphia. This exchange will be administered in Nairobi by an on-site coordinator and the Institute of African Studies.

* African Music and Dance
The students signed up for Kwame Botwe-Asamoahs Africa Music and Dance Class this semester are getting more than they anticipated. Some are music majors who had been exposed to the theory of African music. They wanted practical experience. Other students wanted to learn about the religious and social functions of music in traditional African societies. Some students had traveled in Africa and wanted to reinforce what they saw. A significant number of students were added after hearing about it and dropping other classes.
No matter why the thirty-some undergraduate and graduate students signed up, they are all experiencing the organic relationship between African music and dance. Botwe-Asamoah teaches his students that the two cannot be separated. He ties their unity into African philosophy introduces students to both the theory and practice of music and dance.
But, it is not entirely theoretical. Botwe-Asamoah teaches the students the vocabularies of traditional music and dance, meanings of movements, and the functions of form of music and dance in culture.
Botwe-Asamoahs approach is unique, because he integrates both music and dance in his teaching and research. Most scholars concentrate on one or the other. Botwe-Asamoahs academic training and research interests in theater, history, choreography, drumming, and dance reflect the span of his expertise. He holds a BA in African music and dance, an MA in history and an MFA in theater. Botwe-Asamoah is currently completing his Ph.D. at Temple in African-American Studies, concentrating on African music and dance as an aspect of African theater and an integrated art form. He has written several articles on African music and dance and is currently preparing a paper entitled Oneness of African Music and Dance for publication.

*African Languages at Penn
African languages will be the focus of a festival on April 13 from 4 to 7 in the McNeil Building. Three main language courses are offered by the African language program at Penn are Amharic, Kiswahili and Yoruba. Amharic will also be offered in the summer of 1996.
African culture and traditions are incorporated into this learning experience. Videos on different aspects of African life are shown in the language classrooms. Each semester, African language students participate in an African language festival. They cook African food, wear African clothes (in a fashion show), sing and perform skits in the African languages which they are studying. It is an evening when all students and their instructors get together, talk and exchange ideas. Others interested in Africa from the academic community and from the public are also encouraged to attend.

* Summer Courses in African Studies at Penn

For Summer Session I (May 21 to June 28), Amharic I and II (AFST 490 980 or LING 490 980) will be taught by Johannes Hailu Monday -Friday from 9:00 to 1:30. Amharic I is designed for students with no previous knowledge of Amharic. The goals of the course are in introduce students to the culture, customs and traditions of the Amharas. Students will develop communicative skills through listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
In Summer Session II (July 1 to August 9), Kwame Gyekye will teach Introduction to African Philosophical Thought (AFST 238 920 or PHIL 238 920). Classes will meet Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 pm to 9 pm. This course is designed to introduce students to the philosophical thought of both the traditional sages and contemporary thinkers of Africa. It explores the question of philosophy in African culture in the traditional setting and will take up methodological questions, such as: philosophy and ethnophilosophy (individual and collective thought), closed and open belief systems, and rationality. There will be a critical examination of such concepts in African thought as God, person, cause, human destiny, reincarnation, evil, the paranormal, knowledge, truth. Where pedagogically relevant and helpful, comparisons will be made with Western philosophical ideas and arguments.

* PASA Builds on Its Success:
Third International IASA Conference

PASA members will be participating in the Third International African Students Association (IASA) Conference held at Northeastern University from April 12-14, 1996. The theme of this years conference is Empowering Africa: The Youth As Leaders Of Tomorrow. The conference will endeavor to outline and explore various avenues through which African students overseas can make significant and meaningful contributions to Africa. Workshops will include the following discussions: The Viability of the OAU, The Plight of African Women, Africa in the Media, and Emerging Africa: How Can Africa Become Economically Competitive?
IASA is an umbrella organization which is designed to unite African students around the US, and eventually around the world. PASAs participation in the IASA conference comes on the heels of its enormously successful Africa Fest. The four-day event began with a key-note address by Dr. Ali Mazrui. It ended with a cultural show which was attended by approximately 350 people featuring the Jembe Orchestra and Iyataiye Dance Group. Through skits, poetry, music, fashions, and dance, PASA members educated the Penn and Philadelphia communities about the roles African men and women play within their communities and the similarities and differences between East African and West African cultures.
This year for the first time, PASA members expanded Africa Day to a four-day long Africa Fest. Other universities were involved for the first time were Georgetown, Princeton and Penn State, participated and attended.

African Holocaust Memorial: April 1-5, 1996

The term MAAFA is Kiswahili for disaster or terrible occurrence, hence the term for the memorial. In an attempt to honor the ancestors who suffered through the Middle Passage and afterwards and to educate the community about the history of African peoples throughout the continent, North, Latin and South American and the Caribbean, a coalition of African student groups have come together to plan MAAFA: African Holocaust Memorial. The memorial will be solemn and somewhat mournful; by no means a celebration. Rather, the memorial will be a sign of respect for those who experienced the atrocities of MAAFA, and overcame life and death.
MAAFA will serve as an educational experience for the entire Penn and Philadelphia community. In conjunction with the week long event, a special issue of Vision will be produced. It will include articles addressing hip-hop/ jazz poetry, the cultural and political fragmentation of the African Diaspora, the fragmentation of the African Diaspora within the US, religion and spiritually in the African Diaspora, and the meaning of Maafa. For more information, please contact: Colette Lamothe, Cardell Orrin, Latressa Fulton

* Whats New on the Web
The African Studies WWW statistics on the number of uses during February were: 427,221.
Newly added resources to Penn African Studies web site are now available from this URL:

Call for Participation!!!!

Fourth Annual
African Studies Consortium Workshop

Competing Epistemologies and Strategies About Africa

Friday, October 4, 1996
9:00am - 4:00pm
University of Pennsylvania

sponsored by Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges and
the University of Pennsylvania

Calendar of Events...
Celebrating Africa on Campus, in the Consortium and
in the Philadelphia Community

April 5, 1996-
Spring Lecture Series: The Lagosian Bourgeoisie and the Invention of Yoruba Traditional Religion: 1840-1940"
J. Lorand Matory, Harvard University
12 noon - 1:30pm
Smith-Penniman Room,
Houston Hall, University of Pennsylvania

April 10, 1996-
World-Wide Web Demonstrations for On-Line Resources About Africa- intermediate level
3:30pm - 5pm
Multimedia Lab/ computer room at David Rittenhouse Lab (DRL) basement, on 33rd Street between Walnut and Spruce

April 16, 1996-
The Emergence of Black and White Feminist Thought and Activism, 1830-1865
Carla Peterson, University of Maryland, Department of English
5pm - 7pm
104 Jaffe Bldg., University of Pennsylvania

April 18, 1996-
Ethnohistory Workshop: Sound Politics: Speaking, Writing, and Printing in Early Colonial Africa
Judith Irvine, Department of Anthropology, Brandeis University
4:30pm - 6:30pm
329A 3401 Walnut Street, University of Pennsylvania

April 19, 1996-
Spring Lecture Series: (title TBA)
Paget Henry, Department of Sociology, Brown University
12 noon - 1:30pm
421 Williams Hall, University of Pennsylvania

April 24, 1996-
World-Wide Web Demonstrations for On-Line Resources About Africa
3:30pm - 5pm
Multimedia Lab/ computer room at David Rittenhouse Lab (DRL) basement, on 33rd Street between Walnut and Spruce

May 16, 1996-
World-Wide Web Demonstrations for On-Line Resources About Africa
3:30pm - 5pm
Multimedia Lab/ computer room at David Rittenhouse Lab (DRL) basement, on 33rd Street between Walnut and Spruce

May 17 - 19, 1996-
Ninth Annual All African Student Conference:
Africa Past and Present: Strategies for the Continual Unification of All African People
Times TBA
Temple University
(For details see Opportunities, Conferences...)
(For more information, call 204-8528)

by Seth Muleya

Chitonga is a Bantu language spoken widely in the southern and central provinces of Zambia. It is also spoken along the banks of the Kariba (Zambezi River) on the Zimbabwe side. Chitonga is also known as Bantu-Botatwe (Three people) signifying that it has three main dialects spoken by the Tongas of the plateau and the Gwembe valley; the Ila people along the plains of Kafue river in Namwala; and the Lenje and Soli in the Central Province. Newspapers and Bibles are printed in Chitonga, and radio programs are broadcast in the language. It is also used for educational and administrative purposes. The total number of people who speak Chitonga is over 800,00.

by Justin Dossou
Fon is a language originated from the southern part of the current territory of Benin. Fon is very similar to Goun, which is another major dialect of a common origin.
Although French is widely known to be the written official language of the Benins literate people, Fon is spoken by over half of the population of nearly five and a half million people. The ethnic group that figured most prominently in Benins history are the Fon and Adja of west and central part of the country. Historically, the kingdom of Abomey is an electoral stronghold of Benins political institution. Abomey-Cotonou axis is located in the center and the Southwest of the country. Fon is heavily spoken by the inhabitants of Abomey and the commercial city of Cotonou.
Goun language is the twin sister of Fon and both of them have common original and historical ancestors since the dawn of civilization. Whoever speaks Fon can easily understand Goun. Goun language is heavily spoken in the Southeast of the country. Porto-Novo, the capital city has been the story of various interactions of the other isolated small ethnic groups of Nagot, or the Yoruba migrated from the neighboring Nigerias cities. Goun is also spoken in the region of Pobe, Kpome as well as Cotonou, the industrial capital which is half hour drive from Porto-Novo. Goun is also heavily spoken by the people of Gbadagry, a neighboring Nigerias city.
Among other diversities of ethnic groups are the Nagot.
Nagot, a language similar to Yoruba dialect, is spoken by the people who reside in Zou province, namely Savalou and Save as well as Dassa-Zoume located on the Eastern littoral near the Nigeria border.
Further north are the Dendi, spoken by the inhabitants of Parakou, the capital city of the northeastern province. This city has a considerable historical influence on his neighbors because of his much feared kingdoms of which Nikki was the most important. Dendi is also spoken by the people of Djougou and Kandi.
Somba people of Natitingou, located further north at the Western region province use their original dialect; Somba, Bariba and Fulani. The northern region is seriously affected by its geographical isolation and traditional outlook have placed it in a disadvantageous position vis-a-vis the south, sometimes breeding regional frustrations that were exploited by modern political elites in the pre- and post-independence eras. But, nowadays, a new and intense government policy has sped up commercial and economic interaction as well as linguistic ouverture of cooperation by forcing all ethnic groups to actively intermingle with one another for mutual and beneficial understandings of the whole Beninese people.

by Mamadou Sow

Spoken by more than ninety percent of the population, Wolof is the first national language among six others in Senegal. The dominant position of the Wolof language can be explained by the fact that the Wolof community was nearer than other communities to the colonial administration which was mostly settled in big cities. Thus, it was a necessity for other ethnic groups to speak Wolof once they migrated to towns such as Dakar where Wolof is the primary language of communication.
Wolof is a member of the West Atlantic group of languages. Originally, it was only spoken in the Senegambia area. But with the intense cross immigration between Senegal and Mauritania, the language has gained additional speakers. In the mean time, the traditional trade called Bana-Bana between Senegal and Mali has favored a notable increase of Wolof speakers within the Malian population.
Today, the number of people speaking Wolof in West Africa can be estimated at eight million. Like most African languages, Wolof was essentially oral. In the past, Senegalese scholars in Arabic used the Arabic alphabet in their attempts to give Wolof written status. It was only in 1975 that the Senegalese administration adopted the Latin alphabet to write Wolof.

by Mayo Ogedengbe

The Yoruba-speaking peoples live primarily in southwestern Nigeria, the Republic of Benin, Togo, and even as far west as Ghana, Sierra Leone, Upper Volta, and Ivory Coast. Historically, the trans-Atlantic Diaspora took Yoruba and their descendants to Sierra Leone, Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad, Haiti, and other parts of the Americas. Today there are 60 million Yoruba on the African continent and in the New World.
Yoruba is a name which encompasses numerous pre-colonial groups, all of whom spoke various dialects (some almost unintelligible to one another) of the same language, and shared common cultural and social practices. The pre-colonial practice for which they are most famous, according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica (1978), was that they were the most urbanized Africans of pre-colonial times. Yoruba are also famous for their sculpturesome prized bronze and terracotta figures dating back 1,000 yearstheir religion and music.
Many African-Americans re-connect with their African ancestry through Yoruba culture. That explains the presence of the Oyotunji Yoruba village in South Carolina or the annual Odunde Festival in Philadelphia. American popular culture also looks to Yoruba aesthetics for inspiration. For instance, Arrested Development, a hip-hop group, always features Baba Oje, a Yoruba-derived grandfather figure who sits on a rocking chair during live stage performances.
The resiliency of Yoruba culture is found in religious expression, as in the Santeria in Cuba (and North American cities where Cuban Migrants have established homes), in the Candomble of Brazil and in Shango of Trinidad. It is found in the music of Felo Anikulapo Kuti of Nigeria, Gilberto Gil of Brazil, and Merceditas Valdez of Cuba. It is found in the pacific nature of basketball NBA star Akeem Olajuwon and the richness of the writings of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.

Opportunities and Internships in Africa

* Summer 1996 Internships
The Washington Office on Africa (WOA) and Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) are currently looking for interns for the Spring and Summer of 1996. All internships are non-paid. The organization requests a minimum of 24 hours or three full work days per week (may be negotiable). Specific intern tasks may include: tracking and analyzing Africa related legislation; sharing information with congressional staff and media outlets; working with partners in coalitions; researching and drafting background text for upcoming publications; and assisting with community educational and grassroots activities. Additionally, all interns are responsible for light clerical and office managerial tasks.
For more information, contact: Vicky Ferguson, Associate Director for Legislative Affairs, WOA/APIC, 110 Maryland Avenue, NE, Suite 509, Washington, DC 20002; by telephone: (202) 546-7961; by fax: (202) 546-1545.

*African Language Program
Boston University will participate in the Fourth Annual Cooperative African Language Institute June 17 through July 23, 1996. BU will be offering a course in Setswana/ Sotho I. Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships from Title VI African Studies Centers will be available for students pursuing graduate studies in African language and area studies. For further information about the BU program or other African Language Institute offerings, contact John Hutchison at the Boston University African Studies Center, 270 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215; by phone: 617-353-7305.

* Return of Qualified African Nationals Program
The International Organization of Migration (IOM) is implementing a program to facilitate the return of highly qualified African professionals in an effort to address the effects of the Brain Drain. The IOM is offering job placement in Africa, financial assistance for returning job holders and support for self-employment projects to African Nationals of Angola, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
For more information or an application, contact the IOM office in Washington: IOM, 1750 K Street NW, Suite 1110, Washington, DC 20006, USA; by e-mail:

* Rockefeller Archive Grants
Rockefeller Archive Center announced 1997 grants-in-aid for research on 20th century African topics at the Center and in its collections. For further information- Tel: (914) 631-4505, Internet:

* The Rockefeller Foundation Re-Entry Grants for African Scholars
Applications are now being accepted for grants to assist in the professional establishment of African scholars who are returning to Africa from doctoral or post-doctoral studies abroad. Contact Re-entry Program, Rockefeller Foundation, 1133 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036.

* Study Abroad in Ghana
Swarthmore College has established a study abroad opportunity which is open to all students in the consortium. Participating students will attend the University of Ghana under the guidance of a University professor who works directly with Swarthmore. For further details, please read News Briefs. For further information and application procedures, please contact Steven Piker, Foreign Study Adviser, Pearson 113, 328-7826.

* The African Rural Social Sciences Research Networks
The African Rural Social Sciences Research Networks (ARSSRN) program is pleased to announce a request for proposals from African researchers to conduct research in food security and productivity issues and to participate in a new round of research activities. ARSSRN is a well-established network which provides research grants of up to $5,000 for African social scientists, peer review workshops, and publication and dissemination of the studies. Through field work and collection of primary data by the researchers, real problems in African agriculture and rural development are identified, analyzed and have policy relevance.
Please direct inquiries to Ms. Vicki Walker at Winrock International, 1611 N. Kent Street, Arlington, VA 22209; T: (703) 525-9430; Fax: (703) 525-1744; E-mail: The deadline for submitting proposals has been extended to March 20, 1996. Guidelines for proposals and details for submission are below.

* African Peoples in the Industrial Age
The Center for Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan has established an inter-disciplinary and international project on African Peoples in the Industrial Age. Applications for post-doctoral scholars in the humanities for a one-year residential fellowship are invited. Contact Rockefeller Fellows Program, Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, 200 West Engineering Building, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109-1092. Phone: (313) 764-5513.

Conferences on Africa

* April 12-13, 1996 Symposium on African Education and Development
The African Student Working Group is sponsoring its 11th Annual African Symposium at the Ohio University. It is designed to provide an opportunity for African graduate students to present and discuss their studies in progress or recently completed works. Other graduate students and professors concerned with educational development in Africa are also invited to participate. The symposium will also feature guest speakers and a key note address by Dr. Gwen Malahleha, Ambassador of Lesotho to Canada.
Please direct inquiries to Charmaine Villet, Chair, Graduate Student Working Group, 186 Mill Street, Apt. #F4, Athens, Ohio 45701,; by fax, 614-594-5586; by e-mail:

* Towards Improving the Integration of Africa into the World Market Economy
The University of Montesquieu-Bordeaux IV with the Chambre of Commerce and Industry of Bordeaux are organizing a Euro-African Convention Towards Improving the Integration of Africa into the World Market Economy to be held May 13 and 14, 1996 in Bordeaux. For further information, contact: Marielle Carreau Gasherau, Chargee de Mission Cooperation, Chambre de Commerce et dIndustrie de Bordeaux, 12, place de la Bource, 33076 Bordeaux Cedex, France; by phone: 33-56 79 50 74; by fax: 33-56 79 52 65.

* All African Student Conference
Under the theme, Africa Past and Present: Strategies for the Continual Unification of all African People, African students will assemble at the ninth annual All African Student Conference to be held at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA from May 17-19, 1996.
The All African Student Conference is an annual activity of the All African Student Organization which was founded in Iowa in 1988 by active African students. These students were later joined by African students residing in the United States and Canada. For more information call: (215) 204-8528; fax: (215) 849-7001; or; or write: All African Students Conference c/o Dept. of African American Studies, Attn.: Khadijah O. Turner, Temple University, Glatfelter Hall-8th floor, 13th & Berks Mall, Philadelphia, PA 19122.

* INROADS/Africa

International Conference on the Performing Arts of Africa will be held June 6-8, 1996 in New York City. Sponsored by the Ford Foundation, it is being organized by 651/An Arts Center at the BAM Majestic Theater, Meet the Composer, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, and the African-American Institute. It will take place in conjunction with 651s World Series Festival, which will feature the works of Compagnie Ebene from Burkina Faso and Ensemble Koteba from Cote DIvoire. For more information, please contact Arts International at 212-984-5370; (E-mail)

Journals on Africa

* Africa Business Newsletter Magazine
A new business newsletter magazine about Africa is being jointly produced by US- Africa Chamber of Commerce and the Marek Enterprise, Inc. (MAREK). This publication will provide American and African perspectives about the trends in economic development among the countries of Africa, the trends in commerce and trade between the US and the countries of Africa, and it will highlight emerging business opportunities.
For more information: contact: The US-Africa Chamber of Commerce, 1899 L Street, NW, Fifth Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036, USA; by phone: (202) 331-7053; by fax: (202) 331-1809. Or contact: The Marek Enterprise, Inc. 11733 Bowman Green Drive, Reston, VA 22090; by e-mail:

* The Journal of Research Methodology and African Studies
The Journal of Research Methodology and African Studies is a biannual journal which offers a comprehensive, systematic treatment of the scientific approach in studying aspects concerning Africa. The emphasis is on the relationship between theory, research, and practice, and the integration of various quantitative and qualitative research activities in an orderly framework.

* The Journal of African Languages and Linguistics
The Journal of African Languages and Linguistics is a biannual journal interested in reflecting all the various aspects of African languages and linguistics. Abstracts, articles, reviews, squibs, and translations relating to African languages, literature, literary history, literary criticism, and various aspects of linguistics are welcome.
For publication guidelines and information on subscriptions contact The Editor, The African Institution, 7532 Eighth Street NW, Washington, DC 20012. E-Mail: bangura@

Resources on Africa

* The Canadian Research Consortium of Southern Africa (CRCSA)

A collection of course outlines on Southern Africa is now available. Teaching Southern African Studies contains 42 graduate and undergraduate course outlines drawing from the following disciplines: Anthropology, Geography, History, Literature, Political Science, Sociology, Urban Studies, and Womens Studies. The cost is $22 for individuals and $29 for institutions, postage and GST included. Make checks available to McGill University and send to: Canadian Research Consortium on Southern Africa, Universite McGill, 2020 rue Universite Bureau 3400, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H3 A 2A5. Phone: (514) 398-1050.

* 1995-96 Library of African Cinema
California Newsreel announces the publication of its 1995-96 Library of African Cinema resource guide, featuring ten new releases which reflect the increasing breadth of genres in which contemporary African filmmakers are working. In addition to four new feature films (from Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Guinea-Bissau) and three new documentaries, they include a controversial South African television series, an anthology of short films, a performance film featuring super-star Youssou NDour and three documentaries by African women directors. Copies of the new resource guide are available at no charge from California Newsreel, 149 Ninth Street, San Francisco, CA 94103; by phone: 415-621-6196; by fax: 415-621-6522; by e-mail:

* Tracing African Genealogy on the Internet
There is now a Usenet group dedicated to tracing the genealogy of Africa and the African Diaspora: <soc.genealogy.african>. This non-moderated newsgroup, located within the genealogy hierarchy of one of the Big 7 newsgroups, intends to bring together blacks, non-blacks, or anyone who has pertinent concerns about their African ancestry or relations.

if you have any ...questions, comments, complaints or compliments concerning the Newsletter this year or suggestions for the Newsletter next academic year, please direct them to Edda Fields African Studies Center, 642 Williams Hall, 898-6971 or by e-mail at


Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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