On Feb. 9, Windows on the World joined forces with the student club, Heart of Africa, in order to make the EU community aware that Africa is not a “single story” of poverty and suffering. A panel made of three Eastern professors, Dr. Joao Monteiro, Dr. Sharon Gramby-Sobukwe, and Dr. Mike Mtika, each gave a presentation to help shed light on the complexity and beauty that also lie within Africa.
The first presentation was given by Dr. Monterio, a sociology professor who is originally from the Cape Verde islands. Monterio first showed a TedTalk called The Danger of a Single Story, in which Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Adichie, talks about the “single story” placed on Africa by Americans. She explains that we tend to see Africa as a third world country that only knows poverty and suffering, when in fact it is a diverse continent filled with beauty, complexity and worth.
Monterio added to the points made by Chimamanda Adichie, by reiterating that Americans tend to “oversimplify” Africa and see it with only one “bleak narrative.” Africa has “six out of the ten fastest growing economies… or consider this; Rwanda is the number one place in the world right now for women in politics” and “Africa is the world’s leader in mobile banking” are facts among the many that Monterio gave as proof that Africa is more than the label Americans have given it.
Dr. Sobukwee, a political science professor who is not from Africa, but has been studying Pan Africanism for many years, gave her presentation next. She talked about Africa’s “Intellectual Heritage,” starting with one of the oldest Universities, Sankore University, located in Timbuktu. One slide mentioned Mystery schools in Africa that Jesus most likely attended. “Africa contributed to the development of Jesus,” Dr. Sobukwee mused. She also talked about African literature that we “can’t afford to miss,” mentioning books such as We Should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Adichie and A Grain of Wheat by Kenyan novelist Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o.
The last to present was Dr. Mtika, a sociology professor who is originally from Malawi. He talked about how he worked for the Malawi government to help instruct farmers and improve agriculture, “I convinced farmers to do a lot of crazy stuff” he confessed. Dr. Mtika also talked about how telling people what to do is one of the worst ways to help them; he said “learning is not a bank system” but it is instead a “process of dialogue.” He encouraged the audience to go to Africa to “apply faith, reason, and justice up front” by using dialogue to engage the people because, according to Dr. Mtika, “improvement of life is tied to dialogue.”