Category Archives: Africana Studies

Get to Know Dr. Pat Emenyonu of Africana Studies and the English Department!

Dr. Pat Emenyonu was the Thompson Center For Learning & Teaching’s February 2015 Faculty Focus. Her article, titled “’Glocal’ Agent: Building Bridges Across Campus and Continent” is available across UM-Flint and on the TCLT site.

Dr. Emenyonu is also a driving member of the African/African Diaspora Visiting Artist Series which is bringing South African author Sindiwe Magona to campus and the Flint community March 18th-20th.

Dr. Pat Emenyonu of the Africana Studies Department and the English Department at UM-Flint.

 Name: Dr. Pat Emenyonu
Title: Lecturer II
Department: Africana Studies and English

Classes I teach:
• Women Writers of the African World (AFA 318W1)
• Survey of African Literature (AFA 206/ENG 209W1)
• Afro/Latino/Caribbean Women Writers (AFA/CPL/WGS 216W1)
• Teaching Africana Studies (AFA 399M1)
• Improving Reading in Mid & Sec School (ENG 410/510)

Professional Interests, Activities, or Publications:
Attendance at the Annual African Literature Association Conferences has helped to focus my research on themes and directions that the panels are organized around. Publications have resulted from some of the papers presented at past conferences. As Assistant Editor of the journal African Literature Today, I have also helped to direct the themes of the issues which often reflect interests and concerns that I have. Bringing African writers to campus also has brought their works and analysis of their writing up close and personal. (see chapters in the book below)

“Teenage Readers in Conversation with Nawal el Saadawi,” in Emerging Perspectives on Nawal el Saadawi. Ernest N. Emenyonu & Maureen N. Eke (Eds.).Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2010.

“Nawal el Saadawi and Creativity, Dissodence and Women: An International Conference Report,” in Emerging Perspectives on Nawal el Saadwi. Ernest N. Emenyonu & Maureen N. Eke (Eds.).Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2010.

“Teaching African Literature Online in America: A University of Michigan-Flint Initiative.” African Literature Today, #29. 2011. Edited by Ernest N. Emenyonu.

Girls at War: Achebe’s Short Stories.” Achebe’s Women: Imagism and Power. Helen Chukwuma (Ed.). Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2012.

Research or Specific Areas of Interest:
African children’s literature and African/African Diasporan women’s writing

Degree(s)/Education:
• BA History, Oberlin College
• MA African Lang & Lit, University of Wisconsin, Madison
• EdS University of Colorado, Curriculum & Reding
• PhD University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Curriculum & Reading

Memberships:
• African Literature Association
• DKG, MU Chapter, Chair of Personal Growth Committee
• Board member, GCLC (Genesee County Literacy Coalition)

How I fell in love with my field:
In the Peace Corps while teaching at a secondary school in Kenya, I was sent to a school that didn’t offer History (my major), so I was given the A stream (as in A-D ability levels) English classes and we started a writers’ club that organized a workshop that was sponsored by the East African Publishing House and brought several well-known writers to our campus for the day. Ngugi wa Thion’go had recently published his book Weep Not Child as part of the African Writers Series from Heinemann and Things Fall Apart was being widely read. I took 6 months traveling home from Kenya – going south through Africa including South Africa where I met Alan Paton (my mother insisted, as he had been given an honorary degree at Kenyon College where my Dad taught) and across the Pacific. Reaching East Lansing, my home, with a letter of admission to a masters program in African literature at Wisconsin, I dumped my MSU program (MAT) and left for Madison. My MA thesis was on Ngugi.

What I hope for my time at UM-Flint: As the world shrinks, I hope to bring the African writers and their works closer to Michigan readers. My students find the stories they read in class quite memorable. Linking similarities and differences in situations, plot, characterization, and themes helps to bring a “glocal” perspective to my courses which in the long run is the only way to break stereotypes and myths and eventually [bring] trust and harmony between people.

What I hope for students in my field: That they gain in self-confidence and self- esteem as they read about others who are more similar than different from them. That they become life-long learners/readers who retain their curiosity and willingness to be vulnerable by stepping outside their comfort zones at least through literature. That they can be culturally competent so that conversations are genuine and allow for good listening as well as personal sharing.

Three things you should know about me:

I love to travel especially with family and friends.

I like spending time with my 3 granddaughters.

I like to read and go to the FIA films.

Meet Assistant Professor Dauda Abubakar

Assistant Professor Dauda Abubakar is one of the committee members for AFRICA WEEK, a celebration taking place at UM-Flint the first week of February. All events are free and open to the public! Visit the AFRICA WEEK website for more information.

Dauda Abubakar Africana Studies Assistant ProfessorName: Dauda Abubakar
Title: Assistant Professor
Departments: Africana Studies & Political Science

Classes I teach: I teach a broad range of courses in the fields of Comparative Politics, International Relations and African Studies. These include POL 190 – Introduction to Comparative Politics; POL 340 – African Politics; AFA/POL 304 –Black Social and Political Movements; POL 355 – Nationalism & Ethnic Conflicts; AFA 351 – US Foreign Policy Towards Africa; and AFA/POL 333/334 – Human Rights in Africa. More recently, I designed a new course POL 347 – Middle East Politics, which I plan to teach in Fall 2015. I also teach UNV 100 – Never Again? Holocaust and Genocide in the 20th and 21st Centuries, which examines the challenges of mass murder.

Professional Interests, Activities, Publications: As a member of the African Studies Association, I have presented several scholarly papers and chaired panels at professional conferences. I am a member of the International Studies Association (ISA) and have made several presentations and served as panel discussant at its annual conferences. I also serve as peer manuscript reviewer for leading academic Journals such as African Studies Review and Review of African Political Economy. My most recent scholarly publications include a book Chapter “Africa in World Politics and the Political Economy of Postcoloniality” in Omeje, K (ed),The Crisis of Postcoloniality; “Perils of Identity Politics and the Crisis of the African State” in Dlakwa, H.D. et.al (eds) Peace, Security, Human Rights and Development in 21st Century. Vol. 1. Kaduna Nigeria Pyla-Mak Press,. 2010; and a Journal article “The Legal and Constitutional Framework of the 2011 Elections in Nigeria.” Journal of African Elections. Vol 11. No. 1 (June 2012): 8-30.

Research or Specific Areas of Interest: My area of research is at the intersection of Identity Politics and the processes of democratic transition in the global south, especially African postcolonial state. I am working on a book manuscript titled: Identity Politics and the Crisis of the African State. I am also completing a Chapter contribution to an edited volume on “Humanitarianism and the New Landscape of Intervention in African Conflicts” in which I unpack the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as a Trojan horse that could undermine the principle of state sovereignty, with implications for global peace and security.

Awards: Over the years, I have received several Fellowships, travel grants and awards including UM-Flint Office of Research (RCAC Grant, 2010) to conduct archival research at the Colonial Archives, London, and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). I have also received travel grants to present papers at professional conferences, including a 2014 grant to present at the World International Studies Conference (WISC), Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany. My panel presentation centered on a paper titled: “Humanitarian Intervention and the Challenges of Sovereignty in Postcolonial Africa”; and is under review for publication.

Degree(s)/Education: I completed my B.Sc (Political Science – Upper Division) at Ahmadu Bello University, Samaru-Zaria (Nigeria). I received my M.A. and Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Memberships: I am a member of the African Studies Association, International Studies Association, American Political Science Association, and the World International Studies Association.

How I fell in love with my field: My interest in Political Science began while I was an undergraduate student at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (Nigeria) when the country was in the grip of military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s. Regular public lectures presented on campus by leading scholars increased my awareness about issues of civil and political rights, and the imperatives of a vibrant civil society for the protection of human rights. Although our several street protests could not bring the military regime down, it nevertheless facilitated subsequent opposition groups’ successes in the return to civil rule. My graduate studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison further deepened my interest in the field of Political Science, particularly Comparative Politics and International Relations.

What I hope for my time at UM-Flint: As I continue to teach, and engage in research activities at UM-Flint, I hope that I can increase awareness amongst students who take my courses, about Africa, its peoples/cultures and its deep historical relations with US. Furthermore, I hope that my students will be intellectually grounded to draw the linkages between US and other regions of the world.

What I hope for students in my field: That my students will have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the interdependence between the US and other regions of the world, especially Africa. Also, I hope they will have a coherent understanding of how liberal arts education in fields such as Political Science and African Studies provide them with the skills to understand how global events in far away places affect their lives/communities; and the imperatives of participatory citizenship.

Three things you should know about me: I love to play table tennis; soccer and engage in intellectually driven conversations with students and colleagues over a cup of tea/coffee.

Visit the websites of Political Science and Africana Studies to learn more about these departments.

AFRICA WEEK: February 1-7, 2015

AfricaWeek_CalendarOfEvents_2015As part of African American History & Heritage Month, the department of Africana Studies at UM-Flint, along with the Office of Educational Opportunity Initiatives and with generous support from the College of Arts & Sciences, presents AFRICA WEEK.

From February 1st through 7th, there will be a series of celebrations and activities which explore the vibrant ties that exist between Africa and its Diaspora. By showcasing artists, experts, and works from across the city, state, country, and world, they hope to give individuals from the campus and community an opportunity to come together and share in the learning of culture, history, and experience. All of the events are free and open to the public.

Following are details on each of the AFRICA WEEK events:

Sunday, February 1st:
Unity March: leaving from the UM-Flint Theatre at 11am, join students, faculty, staff, and community members as they walk to Hand of God Ministries for their AFRICA WEEK service.
Special Service & Kick Off Event: Hand of God Ministries, 1600 S. Saginaw Street, Flint, will hold a special service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights Movement. The service starts at noon.

Monday, February 2nd:
Presentation, Conversation & Lunch: Professor Nwando Achebe of MSU’s Department of History will present “Women’s History in the African Tradition.” Dr. Achebe’s research involves the use of oral history in the study of women, gender, and sexuality in Nigeria. Lunch will be provided. Held in the Northbank Center’s Grand Ballroom, noon-2pm. Please RSVP.

Tuesday, February 3rd:
Nollywood Night: Join us for a film and refreshments! The film shown will be from Nigeria’s Nollywood genre as part of African cultural awareness. Held in the UCEN’s Michigan Rooms A & B, 6-8pm.

Wednesday, February 4th: 
Evolution of African Dance: A program that traces the patterns and forms of African dance and its connections to the Diaspora. Lunch will be provided. Held in the Northbank Center’s Grand Ballroom, noon-2pm.

Thursday, February 5th:
Film Screening & Discussion: Join us for a film screening that focuses on the African American and Diasporan experience. The award winning film Fruitvale Station will be shown. This movie is based on events leading to the death of Oscar Grant, a young man who was killed by BART police at the Fruitvale Bay Area Rapid Transit Station in Oakland, California. A panel discussion with campus and community experts will follow. Refreshments provided. Held in the UCEN KIVA, 12:30-2:30pm.

Friday, February 6th:
The Marie Plays, Part 1: When Marie Took the Power. An original play written by UM-Flint CAS faculty member Carolyn Nur Wistrand, this play tells the story of a young free woman of color, Marie Catherine, as she discovers how to awake spiritual and emotional power within herself using African cultural practices in antebellum New Orleans. The show is produced in conjunction with Players by the Sea, Savannah State University’s Theatre Department. More information can be found on the production website. This free performance will take place in the UCEN KIVA at 7:30pm.
High School Poetry Contest: Writing on the theme of “What Africa Means to Me,”students are invited to submit original works of poetry for cash prizes. Students must be enrolled in a public or alternative high school, grades 9-12; all poems must be at least 20 lines. The deadline for submissions is January 30th. Poems should be emailed as a PDF or Word document to eernest@umflint.edu. Please email for full submission guidelines. The poems will be performed as part of AFRICA WEEK on Friday evening.

Saturday, February 7th:
Fashion Fare & African Drum/Dance: A presentation of African and African American cultural diversity through fashion, dance, and spoken word, including Kuungana African drum and dance. Held in the UCEN Michigan Rooms C & D, noon-4pm.

For more information on each of these events, or AFRICA WEEK as a whole, please visit umflint.edu/africana or call 810.762.3353.

Giving BlueDay – Tuesday, December 2nd

BLUEDAY_smallOn Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014, the University of Michigan is asking you to turn Giving Tuesday into Giving BlueDay – a day of online giving to the funds of U of M, including UM-Flint. The College of Arts & Sciences is encouraging donors to pick a specific fund and the amount that is right for them – even $5 donations mean a lot to our departments!

Following are links to our department and program funds, some of them discuss the specific needs your gifts will go to fill. For those that do not have a specific purpose listed, donations will go into their general gift fund and can be used as the department chooses. We hope you can help us make this a successful day of giving, and make a difference for our students!

AFRICANA STUDIES: Funds received will help establish a scholarship that supports Africana Studies Majors and Minors and honors former Chancellor Charlie Nelms who “intensified the university’s emphasis on student success, setting ambitious goals for increasing student retention and graduation rates.”

ANTHROPOLOGY & SOCIOLOGY

BIOLOGY: We have an ongoing need for undergraduate/graduate research support as well as scholarship support. Donations to the following funds will make a positive impact on the academic and career success of Biology students: William R. Murchie Science Fund, Eugene Studier Memorial Research Scholarship Fund, and the Holly Sucic Memorial Scholarship Fund.

CHEMISTRY & BIOCHEMISTRY: The Chemistry & Biochemistry Department would like to put funds towards the purchase of equipment that will enhance and expand students’ learning opportunities. We hope to both enrich their time at UM-Flint and better prepare them for real-world experiences!

COMMUNICATION

COMPUTER INFORMATION SYSTEMS/COMPUTER SCIENCE

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

EARTH & RESOURCE SCIENCE

ECONOMICS: Funds given will be used to fund the Economics Club Scholarship that is given every semester to an Economics major to pay towards any aspect of their schooling, including tuition, books, and fees. Help us continue to provide this support to our club and students!

ENGINEERING (GENERAL & MECHANICAL)

ENGLISH: We want to reinstate the English Department’s Visiting Writer Series, which was a victim of budget cuts. The series will bring nationally and internationally renowned authors to UM-Flint to meet with classes and the community. Help us bring back this meaningful tradition!

FOREIGN LANGUAGES & LITERATURES: We ask that gifts be made to the Monica Karnes Memorial Scholarship Fund. This fund was established in 1985 by students in the UM-Flint Chapter of the Phi Sigma Iota Int’l Foreign Language Honors Society to “benefit students who share Monica’s hopes, her dreams, and her spirit.”

HISTORY

MATHEMATICS

MUSIC: Funds donated to the Music Department during GivingBlue Day will be used towards the purchase of a concert grand piano. This instrument will benefit solo performers, as well as vocal and instrumental performances of many musical genres–and the audiences who listen to them!

PHILOSOPHY DEPT.’s CANDACE BOLTER SCHOLARSHIP FUND: We are just $3,000 away from having our Candace Bolter Scholarship reach endowment status. Once endowed, the scholarship will always be available to help fund future Philosophy students. Help us to help others study Philosophy!

PHYSICS

POLITICAL SCIENCE

PSYCHOLOGY

SOCIOLOGY

THEATRE & DANCE: Students of the Theatre and Dance Department have a variety of high impact travel opportunities available, but often need help in funding their trips. Donations made to the Theatre & Dance Department will be used to diversify the avenues of support available to their students.

VISUAL ARTS: Funds will go to print-making equipment for our new concentration, funding student travel to museums and architectural tours, a vent for the wood shop, and torches to teach flame-working. Help us expand our students’ learning experience by giving to Visual Arts!

WOMEN’S & GENDER STUDIES: The WGS would like donations intended for them to be made to the Women’s Education Center Critical Difference Fund. This small grant is intended to help students who are facing emergency situations stay in school. The grant assists some of our most at risk students, many of whom are returning women and first-generation college students. DONATIONS MADE TO THIS FUND ON GIVING BLUEDAY WILL BE MATCHED UP TO $200!

If you do not see a fund you’d like to give to on the above list, browse all the options, including Research, Scholarships, and more, within the College of Arts and Sciences.

Whether you give or not, please share this blog’s link on your social media feeds to spread the word about Giving BlueDay!

Students, Staff, Faculty Experience World-Renowned Authors Thanks to Campus Partnership

This autumn, students from the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor and Flint campuses, and their surrounding communities, were fortunate to have two world-famous authors on hand to speak about their works and lives.

On Thursday, September 25th, and Friday, September 26th, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus, spent time in Flint. Local students and teachers and members of the campus community were able to learn from her as she presented two lectures and a workshop over the two days. On Thursday, Adichie met and addressed teens from Flint-area schools as she discussed her love of reading, writing, and literature, talked about her recent works, and answered their questions. Later that afternoon, she did the same for attendees at the UM-Flint Theatre. The later audience held a large contingent of students and faculty from the Ann Arbor campus of the the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. They attended both at the invitation of and out of partnership with the UM-Flint Department of Africana Studies.

DSCN2706

Chimamanda speaking to local teens at the Flint Public Library.

Ann Arbor at Lecture

Elizabeth James of U of M, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Dr. Ernest Emenyonu – Dept. Chair of UM-Flint’s Africana Studies Department

Adichie’s Friday was spent with area teachers and professors as the topic of teaching African literature was discussed.

Autograph w Erica  & B

Workshop participants were given a chance to have their books signed.

The second opportunity came on Wednesday, November 5th, when students from UM-Flint were invited to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to hear Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, speak on her life and the world around us. In her gentle voice, Walker told stark truths about the nature of war and the failures of our political systems around the world. She reminded the audience to not be complacent about the things that matter to them. She reminded them that people, deemed good or bad by the media or popular opinion, are just people, and that having compassion and understanding for others is never a bad idea.

stage2

Hill Auditorium at the University of Michigan was filled nearly to capacity.

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Alice Walker spoke about the importance of friendships – with other people, with countries, and with the earth itself.

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Walker also read a number of poems to the audience including “Why Peace is Always a Good Idea.”

Tamasha Hart, a student at UM-Flint, said, “Alice Walker has an amazing spirit. Listening to her speak, made me feel very humbled and privileged. She made me realize that many times we have to step outside of ourselves and have an unbiased love and form of compassion in our hearts that  allows us to be kind to everyone. It was definitely an awesome and unforgettable experience for me. I was impressed.”

To learn more about UM-Flint’s Africana Studies Department, a driving force in bringing authors of this caliber to students and the community, visit their website.

Dr. Ernest Emenyonu Featured in Faculty Research Spotlight

On Wednesday, October 29th, Dr. Ernest Emenyonu, Professor and Chair of UM-Flint’s Africana Studies Department was featured as the as the subject of a Faculty Research Spotlight by the Office of Research. The title of his talk was “Verbal Arts, Folklore, and Literary Imagination in non-Western Pre-Colonial Societies: the Evolution and Development of the Novel in African Languages.”

Emenyonu

Dr. Ernest Emenyonu

Per the Office of Reasearch:

The research investigates the trends in the evolution and development of literature written in African indigenous languages from its antecedents (oral performances–folklore, epics, legends, myths, etc.), to the emergence of the novel. The focus is on the historic emergence of OMENUKO, the first ‘African Language Novel’ (ALN) in Nigeria and, possibly, West Africa, written in the Igbo language and published in London in 1933.

room

Dr. Terry Van Allen, director of the Office of Research, introduced Dr. Emenyonu.

Price

The Research Spotlight was well attended by students, staff, and faculty, including CAS Interim Dean, Dr. Albert Price.

Dr. Emenyonu spoke to a packed house on his own history with African literature and on the challenges and roles of recent and current African writers. He touched on the long tradition of storytelling in African culture, and the the mistakes made by the colonizing world in failing to recognize these traditions. He also discussed his current work, both research and writing. Among his prolific works are translations, critiques, literary journals, and children’s books. His two most recent publications are Remembering A Legend: Chinua Achebe and an English-language translation of Omenuko by Pita Nwana.

books

Dr. Emenyonu brought books of his own and by others for attendees to explore.

This research spotlight comes on the heels of the Africana Studies department hosting world-famous author Chimamanda Ngozi Achidie and just before the department will take a group of UM-Flint students, faculty, and staff to Ann Arbor for a talk given by Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple.

To learn more about the Africana Studies department, its faculty members and their research, visit their website.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Kenneth Waltzer to Present Public Lecture

The departments of Political Science and Africana Studies, with the support of the Office of the CAS Dean, presents “The Turn Towards Testimony and What Can Be Learned in Holocaust Studies,” a lecture by Dr. Kenneth Waltzer. The lecture will be held Wednesday, November 12th, from 5:30-7:30pm in French Hall 111. This lecture is free and open to the public.

MSU Professor Kenneth Waltzer. Kenneth Waltzer is professor of history at James Madison College of Michigan State University and the former director of MSU’s Jewish Studies Program. He has had a long career at MSU as a scholar-teacher, winning the State of Michigan Teaching Excellence Award and the Mid-Michigan Alumni Quality in Teaching Award, and he has served as Dean and Associate Dean of James Madison College and as Director of Integrative Studies in the Arts and Humanities at MSU.

He is co-author of The American Identity Explorer: Immigration and Migration CD Rom (1999, 2002) and is currently completing a book on The Rescue of Children and Youths at Buchenwald. He research work at Buchenwald has resulted in a full length feature documentary, Kinderblock 66, in the naming of two former prisoners as Righteous Among the Nations, and in the discovery and outing of a Holocaust memoir fraud, Angel at the Fence.

Trained as an American immigration historian, Professor Waltzer employs similar methods, drawing on testimonies and camp documents, to enter the Nazi concentration camp universe and explore the social history of life beyond extremity. In 2011-12, Professor Waltzer served as the Myron and Margaret Weingarden Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan-Flint.

For more information on this event, please contact the Department of Political Science at 810-762-3470.

International Honors, African Literature, and Multiculturalism

“When I sleep, I dream about African literature. It gives me tremendous joy.”

UM-Flint Africana Studies Department professor Dr. Ernest Emenyonu was honored March 4th-7th at the Literary Society of Nigeria’s 2014 International Conference, held in conjunction with the Department of English and Literature at the University of Benin, in Benin City, Nigeria. The theme of the conference was “Whither African Literature”—one perfectly suited to complement the recognition of Dr. Emenyonu.

When asked about his experience of being the conference honoree, Dr. Emenyonu seemed pleased but very modest as he began to describe the world of African literature and his place in it. He started by introducing me to the people featured in large portraits on his office walls, including Wole Soyinka, first African recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature; Cyprian Ekwensi, author of Jagua Nana (probably Africa’s most controversial novel in the second half of the 20th century); and Chinua Achebe, author of the groundbreaking novel Things Fall Apart (the most widely read African novel today, translated into 65 languages and counting), and its sequel Arrow of God. As he spoke of these men, and how his honors are related to their accomplishments, it was obvious that the work done he’s in the field of African literature is more about personal passion than anything else.

For example, his expertise on Achebe has led to two volumes of edited works, writing introductions and chapters for books, giving keynote addresses at conferences, answering doctoral thesis questions, and speaking to scholars around the globe. In May, 2014, Dr. Emenyonu chaired a panel for a colloquium dedicated to Achebe at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He explained that Achebe is of such note because he was the first African writer to open doors for African authorship and storytelling—to use folk tales and proverbs, honoring the oral traditions of Africa, while writing in the form of a novel.

When asked about the things that excite him in today’s African literature, Dr. Emenyonu spoke of its power, freshness, and the worldwide recognition it is receiving. African writers are being awarded international prizes—from 1986 to 2003, four Africans won the Nobel Prize for Literature: Wole Soyinka (1986), Naguib Mahfouz (1988), Nadine Gordimer (1991), and J.M. Coetzee (2003). Courses are being taught in China, India, South Korea, England, and many other countries. Michigan State University has one of the largest and most productive Africana studies centers in the United States. He sees the prevalence of African Literature in most college catalogs as a symbol of our world’s increasing awareness of the values of multiculturalism and as proof of Africa’s rightful place in a global discussion. He also expressed grave concerns for institutions in which the African experience, especially through literature, is not presently taught: “If you consciously deny your students exposure to what is happening in the world, it is a great disservice. My worry is that multiculturalism shouldn’t just be seen as a mere theoretical idea; it should be taught and practiced.”

I asked about the importance of knowing other cultures through their literature, specifically in the face of media coverage that tends to focus on the violent and negative. Dr. Emenyonu’s response was that literature serves two major functions: to entertain and to impart lessons of social justice and knowledge. “This is when we really need literature that addresses the mind. Writers exist as the social conscience of the world. They are there not to solve problems per se, but to open our eyes to them.” He also spoke on the need for art to serve a purpose of humanity; to be a window into other perspectives, cultures, and worlds in a way that allows us to see differences, recognize similarities, and remember that we are all just humans existing together on the same planet. He spoke of the innocence and hope that lies within children and their ability to simply accept others, whether dissimilar or not.

It is with hope for the reader’s return to such open-mindedness that Dr. Emenyonu has been working on a newer undertaking: books for children. He says, “If this world has a future, it depends on what we put in the minds of our children.” However, children are not the only intended audience, “I also write them for adults—just think how the world could be if we had the minds and hearts of children.” This new project, of course, coincides with several other on-going works including researching, editing journals, and writing a series of short stories each told through a narrator of a different age. This autumn he will also be busy working with a Chinese scholar coming to UM-Flint to work on his PhD that focuses on African literature.

Students attending UM-Flint are also able to work with Dr. Emenyonu, right from their very first semester on campus! He is currently teaching a First Year Experience (FYE) Course titled “Sites and Sounds of Africa.” To learn more about this course visit www.umflint.edu/gened/fye. More information on the Africana department and Dr. Emenyonu can be found at www.umflint.edu/africana.