By Anna Meany–
Wednesday marked the first annual Pan-African Studies Day, which took place in the lobby of Strickler Hall, offering food, poetry reading, and information about the UofL Pan-African Studies department and information about study abroad programs. The Cardinal sat down with Dr. W.S. Tkweme, Assistant Professor in the Pan-African Studies Department, to learn more about the fairly recent addition to the College of Arts and Sciences.
Founded in 1973, UofL created “the department, responding to pressure brought by black students and others who protested the distorted and Eurocentric social studies and humanities curriculum they encountered here” – Tkweme says it resulted from a national movement.
Tkweme also noted that these classes are for every student at UofL, regardless of race, and the department aims to “expose students to a better understanding of cultural pluralism and social inequality in a diverse world using alternative interpretations and research approaches that comprise what is commonly known as Black Studies.”
Two students, Mmuso Matsapola, sophomore Political Science major, and Dwayne Dix, senior Communications major, talked to the Cardinal about their experiences in PAS classes.
Matsapola says that Intro to Pan-African studies is “the best class I’ve ever taken, straight up. My professor really gets the class involved – most of my lecture classes are the professor talking at you.”
Matsapola says “You do cover things that you’ve already learned, but it’s a different side to it,” what Tkweme calls the “experiences and perspectives of communities which are not included in the master narrative of this country’s mainstream media and educational institutions.”
Matsapola also said “The coolest thing I’ve learned is that, during the Dark Ages, Africa had libraries and roads, was studying science and math – something that was never taught to me before.”
Dwayne added “Most students don’t know that much about Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X – I recommend the course to every student at UofL.”
Besides PAS day, the department offers a variety of opportunities for students to learn more and succeed. The department sponsors an annual study abroad trip to Trinidad and Tobago, as well as putting on the SEBEK event, “a black history knowledge contest between teams of graduates.”
“Anyone who takes our classes and puts in the intellectual work to advance their understanding will benefit from the experience, and hopefully become a more well-rounded and globally aware member of society,” says Tkweme.
Classes offered at UofL include Intro to Caribbean Studies, African American Music, Women and Hip Hop and Black Political Thought. As one can see, the range of opportunity for students to enrich their education is plentiful in the Pan-African Studies department.
Their “curriculum is interdisciplinary and thus explores global, national, and local realities of race, culture, politics and economics.”
Photo courtesy Pan-African Studies Dept.