Eight seniors studying African literature traveled Washington D.C. Nov. 21-24 to visit The National Museum of African American History and Culture and The National Museum of African Art.
The field trip helped students explore the experience of those Africans who were enslaved and colonized and understand how African people have attempted to preserve their roots over time, said Instructor in English Rachel Myers, who taught the course and chaperoned the trip along with Instructor in English Michelle Repass.
The historical and cultural memory for members of the African Diaspora – those peoples who have emerged globally as a result of the African slave trade – is constantly at risk at being left behind, she explained. In the course, students gained a better understanding of what has been left behind for so many people of African descent and the causes of those losses: oral tradition; the clash of indigenous religious practices with colonial missionaries; the economy of colonialism; and the deep beauty that exists within African identity itself, she said.
The course focused on three West African countries: Nigeria, Cameroon, and Ghana. Students read Nigerian author Amos Tutuola’s, The Palm Wine Drinkard (1952), which is the first African novel to be published in English outside of the continent. They then moved on to The Poor Christ of Bomba (1971) by Cameroonian author Mongo Beti. Finally, they ended the course by reading Homegoing (2017) by contemporary Ghanaian author, Yaa Gyasi, in order to gain a vantage point into the creation of the African Diaspora in the United States.
Seniors who participated trip included: