Rutgers University:Africa in the heart at the Center for African Studies

Mina people, living in the southern region of Benin Republic and Togo usually say that when you are guest, the quantity of water your host gives you to wash your hands at arrival anticipate the kind of hospitality you will be given.  If it’s abundant, you can expect some good things, vice versa.

I’ve applied this proverb to my own experience while during my travel by train from Philadelphia to New Brunswick with the director of the Center for African Studies (CAS), Professor Ousseina Alidou, we missed our station. It was amusing. We were both so excited on exchanging about Africa, cultures, social and economical questions. We got down two stations later. It was the first time we met.

This first good impression has been confirmed throughout my stay. I’ve attended a meeting of the board members of the CAS at Livingston Campus. Even far from the continent, members discussed and were so convincing in their ideas and plans for Africa and its development. What I very much appreciated  is that the images  and discourses they used were at the opposite to  those I heard elsewhere from people who define themselves Africanists but still using images of Africa dating back to the 60’s. “They don’t want to accept changes which are happening in Africa” said to me Professor Alidou during our excited conversation in the train.

I was also very fascinated by students interested in African cultures and ritual celebrations. I had a friendly conversation in Professor Barbara Cooper’s course in History of Ancient Africa. The main argument was on the relationship between culture and history. Students asked many questions and liked to watch some videos I brought from my recent fieldwork in Africa.

Professor Abena Busia, chair of the department of Women’s and Gender Studies guided me in a tour on some campuses. I was very impressed by the work that takes place at Rutgers and by the facilities students can have access to. And as media practitioner I liked to read The Daily Targum, the newspaper published by Rutgers’ students.

I discussed media, and especially how new media are influencing ritual celebrations in Africa with Professor John Pavlik, chair of the department of journalism and Media studies. I did appreciate his brilliant ideas on media research.

My stay has been also an occasion to exchange about the project for the creation of a Research and Documentation Center on Social Sciences in Republic of Benin.  The complete project is available at:

I want to thank everyone I’ve met during my stay, especially Professor Ousseina Alidou, the staff of CAS particularly Professor Renée Larrier,  Renée DeLancey, Professor Jeff Friedman from the department of Dance and those I was not able to reach. Thanks for their interest and assistance and I wish success to their projects for Africa.

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