African Studies

Wesleyan University’s African Studies Cluster is devoted to facilitating a deeper understanding and engagement with Africa for the Wesleyan Community and beyond. We bring together a diverse array of courses focusing on Africa, culling the interests of faculty specializing in Africa from a wide variety of disciplines. This broadly interdisciplinary cluster focuses on a large geographic region that is of great historical, cultural, political, and artistic importance and interest to American university students, not to mention American society in general. The cluster promotes interdisciplinary learning in the best of liberal arts traditions.


Congratulations to the 2020 Christopher Brodigan Awardees!

Mohamed-Dhia Hammami

Luka Lezhanskyy

Ferdinand Mensah Quayson


Message to the 2020 Class

From Prof. Alice Hadler

Members of the class of 2020, I salute you!  What an amazing body of work you’ve just presented to us.  Indeed, you are finishing up your Wesleyan careers as no class has ever done before.  Granted, it’s a weird kind of pioneering you’re doing.  Hopefully it’s a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing.  But your perseverance and resilience and good cheer in the face of unprecedented odds should continue to inspire you through all of this and on into your lives, as it should all of us. Maybe it is evidence to confirm Camus’ perhaps most famous line in The Plague, when the exhausted Dr Rieux concludes, after fighting the long defeat, but still refusing to give in to apathy:  “there are more things in men to admire than to despise.”  A bit more on that in a couple of minutes.

 I’m glad and sad to have the last word here: before the wonderful sounds of Zikina raise our spirits – performing live! in the weird way of live performance these days.  Music in the time of corona brings us together, across the barriers we’ve had to erect in these most paradoxical of times.  In some ways, thanks to zoom and the like, we “see” almost more of each other than we might otherwise.  We’re pretty much always at home, always reachable. And yet, there’s something unreal about it all because we’ve had to forego true face-to-face.  We can’t even hug our own parents, or children, if we don’t live in the same household.  Let alone our students – that’s really hard for some of us!  And you should all have been coming to this yard on Sunday…

As I think most of you know, I’m “going out” with the class of 2020 too – we have a special bond!  I too am foregoing the normal kinds of closure we “seniors” (super-senior, in my case) expect as we leave.  It took me 25 years to get to this juncture though – you’re way ahead of me.

I don’t know if you’ve been following Kennedy Odede (wes class of ’12) and his work with SHOFCO in the Nairobi slums.  He has always been a leader, but he has emerged in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic as a leader among leaders.  He spoke with Chelsea Clinton yesterday in a very interesting conversation, and I wanted to highlight two points they made:

One, contrary to the old cliché that many have tried to trot out in this situation, this pandemic is NOT “the great leveler.”  Quite the contrary, it is affecting poor communities and especially communities of color to a FAR greater extent than the world at large, for a number of reasons I’m sure you’ve all also followed carefully. 

Two:  Kennedy spoke a bit of the measures SHOFCO has undertaken to limit the spread of the virus, so far quite successfully, in communities like Kibera where social distancing is nearly impossible, and where clean water is not normally available – starting with setting up several hundred water stations and providing soap in Kibera and Mathare.  He reminded us that it is COMMUNITY-BASED solutions that will resolve this crisis.  As some of us have long known, we in the West have so much to learn from Africans.  We should start with ubuntu.  

May 21, 2020



From Our Blog

ASA Indaba 2018

The ASA organized the annual Indaba with a range of interesting events and speakers before the annual Ariya Cultural Show.

African Studies Minor Info Session

African Studies Minor Info SessionPlease join faculty and students at noon at Ubuntu House (34 Lawn) for a discussion of the African Studies Minor at Wesleyan. Food will be served.
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Student Profiles

Maxine Gibb '19
I am a senior ('19) from Cape Town, South Africa majoring in the College of Social Studies with an African Studies Minor. I am the current president of Wesleyan's African Students' Association and am writing my senior thesis on female youth activism in anti-Apartheid South Africa. 

Student Profiles

Keith Mundangepfupfu '19
My name is Keith Mundangepfupfu and I am a senior from Zimbabwe, a CSS major and an African Studies Minor. I am currently the House Manager for Ubuntu House, the African student house on campus. I am also writing a thesis on the experience of queer male Zimbabwean immigrants in South Africa. 

Student Profiles

Kyllian Pather '20
I'm Kyllian Pather, proudly from South Africa. I’m a CSS major and African Studies Minor. I also designed a University Major in Race Studies in Africa and the Diaspora. I’ve been a member of the African Students’ Association from my first day and it is my home away from home. Our new Ubuntu House is a celebration of our African heritage and a space to share our culture with the university.

Student Profiles

Ferdinand Quayson ’20

I am a Junior from Accra, Ghana-West Africa. I am a Government Major concentrating in International Politics. A board member for the Wesleyan African Student Association, I also serve on the Advisory Board for the Patricelli Center at Wesleyan. Outside Wesleyan, I am the President and Founder of Young Achievers Foundation Ghana, an initiative working to promote access to higher education for low-income students in Northern Ghana. 

Student Profiles

Iris Ridley '20
I am a junior from Northumberland in England. I am double majoring in Dance and Anthropology with an African Studies Minor.