I would have brushed my friends and colleagues off (Yeah right!) if they try to talk to me about 15th Century or 18th Century history on the black race. Definitely, they are too young and inexperienced to tell me about what happened. It is my last semester in Ashesi and I am excited about it. On a deeper level, I am more excited about taking a course in ‘Africa in the International Setting’. It is a collaborative class with synchronous activities (Skype, video chat,etc) in real-time between Ashesi University and Swarthmore College in the U.S. My basis for choosing the class was to learn how African can be better positioned internationally. Close to what the title of the course suggests. The class will also use visual and literary productions to deal with questions of race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, nationality and globalization.
The class relooks at diaspora (cross-boundaries) and re-envisions its heritage and memory especially, the African diaspora. To those who know me, you might just conclude I am interested in such subjects. Do not get me wrong, I just have a story to share. This time, I can support them with references. I have written an earlier post which proves and encourages people especially Black and White to continue talking about these issues when they meet.
So far, the class has focused on defining diaspora from historical, cultural, representational, and theoretical specificities of different Diasporas. Just like all the courses I have taken in college for the past four years, Africa’s perspective on the subject is not captured in the definition of diaspora. Stephan Dufoix and Patrick Manning are the major writers on diaspora, yet the text illustrates dissimilar representation of diaspora. Dufoix rather narrowly looks at the history of diaspora from the Jewish, Armenian experience. Patrick Manning connects other experiences including the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 15th century to offer a general definition on diaspora.
In the coming weeks I will keep you all posted on the class. More importantly, in today’s world, where almost everyone is interconnected, it is simply essential that we work for each other’s success. Importantly, as a class it will be rewarding to find a way to engage everyone (people living in the diaspora) and get them to speak up on increasing African contribution to literature on diaspora. Like Manning puts it, “The heritage of slavery will count for less in the future but the memory of slavery will not pass”.