Center for "Race," Culture & Social Justice

Distinguished African Scholars & Writers

The Center for "Race," Culture and Social Justice is pleased to inaugurate the Distinguished African Scholars and Writers Series Program. Aiming to foster engagement on campus with scholarship and writing on Africa, produced by African scholars, the Center will feature one visit to campus of a scholar or writer from Africa each year.

Spring 2024

Nyani Nkrumah (Ghana, West Africa and Zimbabwe, Southern Africa) will give a public lecture at Hofstra on Monday, March 25, 2024.

NYANI NKRUMAH developed her love of reading and writing from her mother, who taught English Literature and Language and encouraged her children to recite poems and Shakespeare soliloquies. After graduating from Amherst College with a dual major in Biology and Black Studies, Nkrumah received her master’s at the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. She is also a Fulbright Fellow. In her other life, she lives in the Washington DC area with her family and works in international development.

Spring 2023

Chika Unigwe (Nigeria, West Africa) will give a public lecture at Hofstra on Wednesday, April 12, 2023.

CHIKA UNIGWE is an assistant professor of creative writing at the Georgia College & State University, who writes in English and Dutch. She has published six novels, including On Black Sisters' Street (2007), Better Never Than Late (2020), and her latest novel, The Middle Daughter (2023). Her first novel, De Feniks, was published in Dutch in 2005 and is the first book of fiction written by a Flemish author of African origin. Dr. Unigwe has published short fiction in several anthologies, journals, and magazines. She is the winner of several awards including the 2003 BBC Short Story Competition for her short story, "Borrowed Smile," and in 2004 was nominated for the AKO Caine Prize for African writing for her short story, "The Secret." Dr. Unigwe is the winner of the 2012 Nigeria Prize for Literature for her novel On Black Sisters' Street. Dr. Unigwe is the creative director of the Awele Creative Trust, a nonprofit organization that she founded to support young writers. She was also a Man Booker International judge in 2016, and is the recipient of several writing fellowships to support of her creative works.

Spring 2022

Imali Abala (Kenya, East Africa) will give a public lecture at Hofstra on Tuesday, April 25, 2022.

IMALI ABALA, a professor of English at Ohio Dominican University, teaches a variety of courses ranging from Freshman Writing, World Literature, African Literature, and Literature of American Diversity.

She is a well-known Kenyan writer, and in 2017, she was nominated for the prestigious Jomo Kenyatta prize of Literature, which she received as runner-up for her book, The Dreamer. This book-length poem touches on historical and contemporary challenges that women and girls contend with as they navigate their worlds.

Dr. Abala strives to build bridges between the U.S. and Kenya by offering a global perspective on issues of truth and justice. Other works include In the Murk (with Christopher Okemwa) (2019); Haughty Boys of Ngoroke (2015); Drum Bits of Terror (2014); and A Fallen Citadel (2012).

Spring 2021

Nwando Achebe (Nigeria, West Africa) will give a public lecture at Hofstra virtually on March 17, 2021. She will discuss her personal journey to becoming an Africanist and gender historian.

NWANDO ACHEBE, the Jack and Margaret Sweet Endowed Professor of History, and Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the College of Social Science, is a multi-award-winning historian at Michigan State University. She is founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of West African History, and co-director of the Christie and Chinua Achebe Foundation. Dr. Achebe received her PhD from UCLA in 2000. In 1996 and 1998, she served as a Ford Foundation and Fulbright-Hays Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Her research interests involve the use of oral history in the study of women, gender, and sexuality in Nigeria. Dr. Achebe is the author of six books. Her first book, Farmers, Traders, Warriors, and Kings: Female Power and Authority in Northern Igboland, 1900-1960, was published in 2005 (Heinemann). Her second book, The Female King of Colonial Nigeria: Ahebi Ugbab(Indiana University Press, 2011), winner of the three book awards—Aidoo-Snyder, Barbara “Penny” Kanner, and Gita Chaudhuri—is a full-length critical biography on the only female warrant chief and king in British Africa. Dr. Achebe is co-author of the 2018 History of West Africa E-Course Book (British Arts and Humanities Research Council). She is also co-editor, with William Worger and Charles Ambler of A Companion to African History (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019), co-editor with Claire Robertson of Holding the World Together: African Women in Changing Perspective (Wisconsin University Press, 2019), and sole-author of Ohio University Press' (2020) Female Monarchs and Merchant Queens in Africa. Dr. Achebe has received prestigious grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, Wenner-Gren, Woodrow Wilson, Fulbright-Hays, Ford Foundation, World Health Organization, and National Endowment for the Humanities. 

Fall 2019

Alain Lawo-Sukam (Cameroon, West Africa) will visit Hofstra on November 20 and 21, 2019, and he will deliver four public lectures.

Dr. Alain Lawo-Sukam is an associate professor of Africana Studies and Hispanic Studies at Texas A&M University and is widely published both as a scholar and as a creative writer. He is the author of the trilingual poetry book Dream of Africa. Rêve d’AfriqueSueño con África (2013), and the novel Mange-Mil y sus historias de tierra caliente (2017). His work addresses African experiences in the Hispanic Atlantic world and aims toward a vision of Afro-Hispanic studies that incorporates new frontiers of knowledge. He specializes in the history and cultures of Afro-descendants in the Americas, focusing in particular on the Afro-Argentinean, Afro-Colombian, and Afro-Cuban communities and experiences. He has written two scholarly books, La poesía de Guinea Ecuatorial en su contexto colonial y (trans)nacional (2019) and Hacia una poética afro-colombiana: el caso del Pacífico (2010). The recipient of numerous grants and awards in teaching and research, he is also the former chair of the African division of the Modern Language Association.

Spring 2019

Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel (Equatorial Guinea, West Africa) will visit Hofstra on April 10, 2019. He will conduct a writing workshop and will give a public lecture on activism and political dissidence in Africa.

Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel is an internationally known writer, blogger, and activist from Equatorial Guinea, now living between Barcelona and Malabo because of his opposition to the 40-year-long dictatorship of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in his country (Obiang has been in office since he overthrew his uncle Francisco Macías Nguema from power in 1979). Ávila Laurel is the author of more than 20 books (novels, essays, poetry, plays, and short stories) which have been translated into numerous languages, including English, French, and Finnish. One of his latest novels, By Night the Mountain Burns (And Other Stories Press, 2014) narrates his childhood in the small South Atlantic island of Annobón, while The Gurugu Pledge (And Other Stories Press, 2017) tells the stories of African migrants in their attempt to arrive to the shores of Europe and provides a reflection on decolonization and dictatorships on the continent today.