UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Africana Studies department holds speaker session during class

Dr. Ousmane Sene, Professor of English and American Studies at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal and Director of the West African Research Center came to UMass Boston and spoke in Professor Jemadari Kamara’s class on Nov. 6.

Sene spoke to Kamara’s students about Pan-Africanism, or all Africanism, and its past, present and future. He touched on the African diaspora, and groups created by African movements and cultures, and their descendants throughout the world.

To illustrate Pan-Africanism he told a story about a study-abroad student staying at a house in Senegal. He explained that each country in Africa wants to have its own separate identity, all while being united as a continent.

“One African-American I had placed with a Senegalese family with a male his age,” Sene said. “We told him to not drink the water from the tap or the well; if he did, he would get sick and have to go to the hospital. So, he had to drink water from a bottle. The Senegalese male could not begin to understand why he was drinking water from a bottle. Why [did] the young, African-American, black like him, had to drink water from a bottle. He told him, ‘You’re acting white! Why would you drink from a bottle? Drink the water as I drink it! You are acting white.’ Why would he accept that the white American would normally be expected to drink water from a bottle, but not an African-American drink water from a bottle?”

He used this story to show that although each country has its own individuality, sometimes they feel like, because they look similar, they should act similar. Sene supported this by adding that because of the area of Africa he is from and the country that colonized his area, he did not see things the same as someone from South Africa.

“I grow peanuts where I come from; it is our staple,” Sene said. “But when you give me peanut butter, I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know what peanut butter is. The only use I have for it is to put it in a pan and cook it down, add meat to it and cook rice with it and have my Senegalese dish. […] That’s what peanuts are used for and that’s what I know. I will not eat peanut butter. I produced peanuts and I spent years and years on peanut farms, farming peanuts with my father.”

Sene continued his discussion with the class with anecdotes covering the struggle Africans have with being unified, while keeping their identities as individuals.

Sene lectured in two classes, one at 2:30 p.m. and one at 7 p.m.