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SOC Professor Leads African Studies Celebration

D. Soyini Madison

As Northwestern’s Program of African Studies (PAS) celebrates its 60th anniversary, a variety of events will be held throughout this academic year to mark the occasion. Interim PAS director and School of Communication performance studies professor D. Soyini Madison will be spearheading this effort.

In addition to overseeing the schedule of events, Madison is organizing the two headline conferences of the anniversary celebration. “Africa in Motion: Global Health, Markets, and Human Rights”(organized with Kate Darges, PAS special projects coordinator) and “Dress, Popular Culture, and Social Action” (organized with anthropology professor Karen T. Hansen) will bring together scholars from various disciplines to discuss issues pertaining to Africanist studies. Madison will also be involved with the “Africa in Motion” conference at a scholarship level, chairing the panel on Human Rights and Violence.

Along with scholarly conferences and lectures, PAS anniversary events will also include art exhibitions and performances. A storytelling festival is scheduled for March 13, 2009, with the artists – Onawumi Jean Moss, Joni Jones, and Mshai Mwangola – performing traditional African folktales followed by breakout sessions conducted by each of them. Mwangola is a recent alumna of the performance studies department and will be flying in from Kenya, where she has been working on a new initiative to establish a university in East Africa called the Aga Khan University.

In May 2009, a three-person performance of J. Nozipo Maraire’s novel Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter will be held. SoC performance studies graduate student Olateju Omoludun Adesida adapted the novel for performance and will be directing the production. The story is told as a letter from mother to daughter that examines African cultural inheritance and tradition, the struggle for Zimbabwe’s independence, and the values of African womanhood and identity. In addition to an adaptation of the original novel, Adesida’s new work will include responses from Nigerian and Cameroonian authors written from the daughter’s perspective.