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Vol. XXVI, Issue 4 (Fall 2019)

 

Vol. XXVI, Issue 4 (Fall 2019):

 Nigerian -Portuguese Relations; African Studies at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU)

 

Table of  Content

Editorial

Patrick Chukwudike Okpalaeke & Lambert Okechukwu Ibe:                  

 “Nigerian- Portuguese Relations -  A Study of the Nigerian Civil War, 1967 – 1970

Gloria Emeagwali:  “African Studies at CCSU:  The Foundation Era,  1992-1997”

 

Editorial

 In this issue of Africa Update we discuss the establishment of African Studies at CCSU, twenty seven years ago, to date. Some of the scholars who honored  invitations to address students, attend annual conferences and assist in the building of the program are mentioned in the brief article, and so, too, the administrators at CCSU who facilitated this academic project. There were also outstanding faculty and students who were prominently involved in the program.  It is correct to speak about twenty-five years of  African conferences at CCSU since the first one took place in 1994,  when a host of scholars and administrators were invited to CCSU. But African Studies, as a program, preceded the first conference by two years, and I am proud to say that I was the founding director (coordinator) of the program. Professors Walton Brown-Foster, Haines Brown and Sherinatu Fafunwa - Ndibe were among the  early pioneers and members of the African Studies Committee (ASC).

This issue also includes an  illuminating article on Nigerian- Portuguese Relations in the 1960s,  by professors Chukwudike Okpalaeke and  Okechukwu Ibe of  the University of  Uyo, Nigeria. The relationship between a secessionist Biafra and Portugal is discussed, with a major focus on the ulterior motives of Portugal,  unwilling to give up its African colonies. Nigeria  was determined to see the end of colonial occupation in the continent and would be perceived as a major threat  by the Portuguese administration. The end result  was the prolongation of the Biafra  civil war and a deterioration of Nigeria-Portuguese relations. We thank these two scholars for their  insights on this fascinating topic.

 

Professor Gloria Emeagwali

Chief Editor, Africa Update

 

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Nigerian – Portuguese  Relations: A Study of the Nigerian Civil War, 1967 – 1970

Patrick Chukwudike Okpalaeke & Lambert Okechukwu Ibe

 

Department of History and International Studies,

University of Uyo, Nigeria

 

Introduction

Portuguese contact with what is today known as Nigeria dates  back to the dawn of the fifteenth century, specifically with the Benin Kingdom, which became the second most important Portuguese base after Elmina. However, by the twentieth century, the relations between Portugal and Nigeria had taken on  a different dimension based on Nigeria’s declaration for the decolonization of all colonized states of Africa, a statement that went on to form the matrix upon which Nigeria’s foreign policy (Afro-centrism) revolved. Portugal, which was one of the fiercest colonizers of the African continent found herself entangled in the Nigerian Civil War (1967 – 70).

The then Federal Military Government (FMG) at the instance of Gen. Yakubu Gowon, perceived Portuguese support for Biafra as an affront, and strongly believed that Portugal was all out to render military support to Biafra, thus prolonging the war. Moreover, even beyond prolonging the war, such support was seen as having the capacity to ensure that the Biafran front successfully secede from the Nigerian state. This study examines the basis on which Portugal rallied support for Biafra and will not be limited to just the conceptualization of Nigerian - Portuguese relations within the chronology under review. Further, the study discusses the nature of the war, before connecting the dots as to how Portugal got herself involved. In the course of locating the Portuguese links to the war, the study identifies Portuguese interests in Nigeria at that period.

Whereas it had been argued in many quarters that Portugal only assisted the Biafran side, evidence abounds that both the Federal Military Government and Biafra received vast international support during the Civil War and influenced the elongation of the war. Substantiating the foregone position, Obasanjo (1980:148) remarked rather regrettably:

If Nigeria had been left alone by other countries and their nationals, especially the developed countries, the Nigerian crisis might not have developed into a civil war. Without the promise and assurance of moral and material support and open recognition, Ojukwu might not have taken the final plunge of declaring the Eastern Region and independent State of Biafra…Passions on either side were inflamed by foreign press.

Despite the fact that this study focuses on the roles of Portugal in the Nigeria’s Civil War, it does not deny the fact that many other countries outside Portugal were involved one way or the other, in the conflict. Of particular relevance in relation to international support is the reportage of the press (Forsyth, 1969:270). On this note, it is pertinent to state that many people, never witnessed the event firsthand, but had to rely totally on what the press delivered.

 

The State of Biafra in the Nigerian Civil War

Scholars and the public have addressed the Nigerian Civil War differently. By some, it is called the Biafran war, while others see it as the Nigerian - Biafran War. Whatever nomenclature it may assume amongst scholars, the event actually took place prior to Portuguese involvement in the conflict.

Nigeria was a British colony, which emerged from colonial rule to independence in one of the most uncommon manners. This is because, unlike many other colonies, Nigeria did not confront Britain in physical combat. Nevertheless, the political structure that Britain left generated concern  before independence among the major ethnic groups. Ademoyega argued that Britain rubber-stamped ethnicity,  and this ugly situation outlived British colonial rule (1981:1).

Ethnicity did not only count as a major factor in Nigerian politics but degenerated to conflict among the various dominating groups. The country was in that state of conflict when the first coup d’état happened on 15 January 1966 (Obasanjo, 1980:5). The second coup regarded as  a countercoup, also,  was only a matter of time (Madiebo, 1980:29). Gowon’s insistence to sit on the throne as the number one citizen, in defiance of other senior military officers, did not go down well with Ojukwu. Unfortunately, the face-off did not end as a problem between two men, but translated into a war that cost both lives and property at an alarming rate (Oluleye, 1985:38).

For many, the Nigerian Civil War balkanized what Britain created of Nigeria. Achebe captured the notion, aspirations and dream of Biafra as a sovereign state when he espoused that ‘the Biafran people felt they have what they were looking for, a country where there would be no persecution and the citizens free to express their feelings’ (Achebe, 2012:143). Nonetheless, Madiebo (1980:379) had a different perception of what constituted an independent state of Biafra from what Achebe observed. Madiebo’s view about Biafra was that the territory never had a government, and no state exists without a government since government remains one of the key attributes that defines a state. Therefore, based on Madiebo’s position, the Biafran state was never a reality. Whereas, for Obasanjo (1980:37), Eastern Nigeria was a rebel held territory and not a state, hence the efforts he made to crush the rebellion and bring peace to Nigeria. Jorre (1971:179) captures it thus:

The Nigerian Civil War was not just another African skirmishes. It bears closer comparison with the American and Spanish Civil Wars. Like the American conflict, it was a war about nationhood and self-determination. Like the Spanish Civil War, it concerned outside intervention and the struggle between the great powers, and like both wars, it was a desperate affair, fought to the bitter end by determined people…it was the first war in which African armies led by African officers fought each other with modern weapons.

Jorre did not only point to how desperately the war was fought, but also how devastating it was, given the kind of weapons employed. Whether the war was the reason for international intervention as Obasanjo, (1980:146) would argue, and the preference of one side of the country over the other, Obasanjo opined that without intervention, the Nigerian crisis would not have snowballed into a Civil War. Jorre agreed that the Civil War was a concern for the outside world given its very nature.

Notably, the Nigerian Civil War was not merely fought with arms alone but with different other measures that could bring the war to a quick end, and more importantly, a decisive victory. One of the greatest weapons used in the war was that of starvation. The rippling effects of starvation as a strategy employed by the Nigerian government was very effective. The Biafra side was badly affected by this ‘weapon,’ which did not only bring the side on its knees but also attracted foreign intervention (Forsyth 1969:195). A  Biafran soldier considered a meal a day as a luxury (Madiebo, 1980:357).

The uncertainties during the Nigerian civil war were more common within the rebel-held area (Biafra). This was partly because it was the main theatre of the war. The sorry-state, which the people fell into, will beat any one’s imagination upon viewing it from Madiebo’s (1980:263) perspective.

Portuguese Support for Biafra

One of the ways by which Portugal supported Biafra was to allow a Biafran Mission to exist in Lisbon, the Portuguese capital.  The Biafran Mission in Lisbon started existing around August 1967, which suggests that Portugal was eager to assist Biafra carry out her mission to the fullest (Sunday Times 1967:2).

Sao Tome, a Portuguese territory, was at one point, one of the most strategic links that Biafra had with the outside world (Morning Post 1967:3). Since those in the  Biafran Mission in Lisbon were there to canvass for support,  so that Biafra could get what it takes to achieve her aim, Sao Tome became strategic as a port through which aid landed before moving into Biafran - held territory (Sunday Times, 1967:2).

The importance of Portuguese support for Biafra was once seen as the major source sustaining the Biafran side. On this note, it was argued that should Portugal withdraw her support for Biafra, then the secessionist movement would  collapse. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) warned Portugal over her support for Biafra. Portugal was requested to stop allowing SaoTome, her colony, to be used by Biafra. It was uncovered within the period that Biafra wanted to move her headquarters from Umuahia to Sao Tome (Ajayi, 1967:1).

Idris clearly pointed out that Portugal was assisting the rebels to procure arms (1967:6). The evidence of this lies in the arms found in a seized ship (JOZINA) which was meant for Biafra. There was an allegation that Biafra had plans in motion to bomb Lagos and that this was to be done in conjunction with Portugal. However, it was later reported that the same Portuguese nationals carrying bombs, in a plane designated for Lagos, died (Idris 1967:6-7). This situation brings to mind the fact that Portuguese involvement in the matter was getting out of hand. In addition, Portugal was described as the center of arms procurement for the Biafran side. Most Biafran activities that were not linked up directly to Lisbon were often linked to Sao Tome, which had an automatic link to Lisbon. (Ajala, 1986:200)

Chinua Achebe acknowledged Biafran-Portugal relations when he stated that the arms deal was not part of the bilateral relations, but that Biafra - Portugal relations emerged out of extreme urgency In Achebe’s words:

I am not interested in what motives Portugal may have. If the devil himself offered his air facilities we would have taken it, and I would have supported it. Portugal was very clever when it realized we were about to be exterminated, and said “you can land at my airport” and that, as far as I know, is the extent of Biafra association with Portugal. Portugal has not given us any arms. We buy arms on the black market. What we cannot get elsewhere, we try and make it.

Philip Effiong had a different perception of the Portuguese- Biafra relations. For Effiong, Biafra -Portuguese relations were among  the best things that ever happened to Biafra. Although Portugal was an anti -African state, the precarious state of Biafra then gave its people no option than to accept help no matter the direction that the help was coming from (Effiong, 2000:231).

Historicizing the Nigerian- Portuguese Debacle

Nigeria’s diplomatic relations have increasingly engaged many states since her independence. From independence, Nigeria’s foreign policy was obviously radical with a conservative Prime Minister (Bukarambe, 2010:44). The Afrocentric aspect of Nigerian’s foreign policy was so important that it almost became a determining factor in shaping Nigeria’s foreign relations. Zabadi and Onucha (2012:388) point out that Nigeria established herself through her foreign policy as the leader of the African continent. In keeping with this, Nigeria fought for the liberation and development of many African states. Colonialism  and everything relating to it were seen (and are still considered) as “evil.”

            Sequel to Nigeria’s position in Africa, Nigeria, no doubt, became a direct opponent to nations with colonial interests in Africa.  Portugal became an opponent if not an outright enemy, to Nigeria on this basis. This is because while Nigeria was fighting to end colonialism in Africa, Portugal was not showing any positive sign of granting independence to her colonies. For Portugal, her African territories were hers to keep. On one occasion when Portugal described an African territory (Angola) as her own, Portugal got a shocking reaction from Nigeria.

Nigeria could never accept the fiction that any square inch of an African territory could be considered as an integral part of a metropolitan European country; Indeed that Nigeria could never accept the truism, considering that Angola was part of Africa, whilst Portugal was part of Europe, and that was all there was to it.  (Chibundu, 2009:3)

 Nigeria’s view for Africa was captured thus:

Africa has become the cornerstone of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy and quite rightly so… this unflinching support has an historical  base and underpinning which continues to remind successive administrations of the continuing  imperative challenge and rewarding task of strengthening and improving on the continent’s institutional structure for political development, modernization and cooperation. Successive Nigerian governments have given political, financial and diplomatic support to…. Africa (Olusanya and Akindele, 1986:5).

From the forgoing, there is no doubt that Nigeria’s view contradicted sharply with that of Portugal in Africa. On this note, it is important to understand that Nigerian-Portugal relations did not really begin on a good note, owing to their differences in Africa. Another ugly moment in Nigerian -Portugal relations was when a Portuguese was alleged to have imposed himself as Portuguese ambassador to Nigeria (Daily express 1963:16). The alleged ambassador was not granted audience by the Governor-General of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the very first time he presented his credentials before Azikiwe. Nevertheless, he was bold enough to try it a second time, only for the former scenario to reoccur. Next, he left behind one of his juniors, Dr. Carlos Alberto, to act as charge d’ Affairs. The Nigerian Government at the time was extremely angry by the act as expressed by the head of information in the Ministry of External Affairs, Alhaji Wali Isa.

            Given this reality, Nigeria did not recognize both the person who presented himself as ambassador and Dr. Carlos Alberto who later surfaced as charge d’ Affairs, mainly because of Portuguese policies in Africa and how such policies impeded upon Nigeria’s goal towards decolonization. Here again, one is reminded of  the strength of Afrocentrism in Nigeria’s foreign policy, which could be seen as a prominent decisive factor. It was an irony that Portugal was interested in establishing diplomatic relations with African states but was not willing to grant her colonies in Africa,  independence. In reiterating the underpinning philosophy that marred Nigeria’s relations with Portugal in historical perspective, Akimbi (2015:151) concurs with Ogunbadejo (1976) on why Portugal and Nigeria found it very difficult to agree on various issues.

Nigeria’s relations with Portugal before the war were far from being cordial. This was because of Nigeria’s strong commitment to the cause of liberation movements in of those Africa countries that were still under the yoke of colonialism.

Portugal’s refusal to grant her African colonies like Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde and Sao Tome & Principe independence was a determining factor in Nigeria’s relation with the colonial masters and not just Portugal alone. However, the case of Portugal is even more prominent because, at the time Nigeria gained independence, Portugal was still very much in control of  her colonies despite their efforts towards independence. The government of Nigeria as far back as 1963 had granted de facto recognition to the Angolan government in exile, which was under the leadership of Mr. Holden Roberto.

 

The Philosophy of Portuguese Assistance for Biafra

For Nigeria, Portugal’s support for Biafra was an act aimed at prolonging the civil war by way of sustaining Biafra’s secessionist plan. Nigeria also viewed Portugal’s relations with Biafra as an intervention in Nigeria’s internal affairs (Idiris, 1967:6). Biafra’s secessionist plan was seen as an act of rebellion against the state by Nigeria, thus any support for Biafra was a support for rebels and an act of intervention in the domestic affairs of Nigeria.

In the case of France, Nigeria argued that France’s support for Biafra did not only prolong the war by sustaining rebel efforts but that instead of defeating the rebels, Nigeria had to fight against French soldiers and  mercenaries (Daily Sketch, 1968:1). This was no less the case with Portugal. Nigeria also felt that without the magnitude of support granted by Portugal  and France to Biafra, the rebels, on their own, without support or hope for such,  would have surrendered. The long-held view of Nigeria and some other African States that their boundaries as arranged by the colonial masters should not be moved was a decisive factor in Nigeria’s conception of Portugal’s support for Biafra. During the Nigerian Civil War, Nigeria considered it an “ evil” for Nigeria to disintegrate (New Nigerian, 1969:7). With this concept, Nigeria justified her fight to make Nigeria one, while using it to condemn any support against Nigeria, or for Biafra.

It was Portugal’s plan to maintain her colonial dominance over her colonies even when many colonies were gaining independence. Nevertheless, Nigeria and the United Arab Republic were strongly against the continuation of colonial rule in Africa, hence both fronts sponsored and supported many independence movements. Portugal saw in the Nigeria Civil War an opportunity to reduce Nigeria’s power. The reduction of Nigeria’s power would have been a drastic reduction for nationalist movement and agitation for independence in Portuguese colonies. Portugal was in dire need of a territory that would support her, (Sunday Times, 1967:2). An independent state of Biafra was Portugal’s dream, though Portugal did not openly at any time acknowledge her support for and she never accorded diplomatic recognition to Biafra. Had Nigeria disintegrated, Portugal would have argued that the black man does not have the capacity to manage his own affairs. On that basis, Portugal would have justified her (interest) unwillingness to grant independence. Portugal was eager to maintain her racist-minority rule if Biafra had gained independence  (Rimi, 1970:3-4).

 Portugal’s support for Biafra displayed her as a nation on a revenge mission. Nigeria had earlier opposed the Portuguese regime in Africa and the opportunity to pay back was during the Nigerian Civil War (Ajala, 1986:200).  Should Nigeria emerge as one after the civil war, Nigeria would be weak and unable to pose  a threat to Portuguese economic and strategic interests in Africa. Obasanjo,  without specifically addressing Portugal saw in the origins of the Nigerian Civil War the role of foreign interventions (1980:146). For Obasanjo, without the support from the foreigners who backed Ojukwu, the zeal to declare an  independent Biafra State and wage war against Nigeria would not have existed. However, Ojukwu’s courage gathered momentum from foreign support and intervention, and Portugal cannot be exonerated in this regard. For Biafra, Portuguese support was a timely intervention that did not allow death on a  large scale. The magnitude of the suffering encountered by Biafra in the face of starvation was indeed a turning point for Western attitudes on the Nigerian Civil War. (Forsyth, 1969, 195).

 According to Madiebo (1980: 377), Biafra was not bothered at first over international support because they believed they were fighting a just war. However, Biafra realized rather belatedly that the international community did not share in her views and that was the reason some international media were always anticipating Biafra’s collapse. Nevertheless, Biafra saw the need of foreign support when things had already gone too bad beyond remedy. Hence, the people of Biafra consulted Portugal not necessarily as a means to keep the secessionist mission on, but to help them as a people to stay alive.

In addition, since some of the reports carried by Nigerian newspapers came from the foreign media, most of the information as reflected in Nigerian national dailies might have escaped adequate scrutiny.  A Radio Paris Report carried a NATO warning to Portugal over her support for Biafra (Ajayi 1967:3). Nigeria accused France, too, of supporting Biafra. Now the question is why did Radio Paris not report the support of France to Biafra, but rather chose to report that of Portugal. Accusation and counter-accusations beleaguered Anglo-France relations over the sending of arms to Biafra and Nigeria, pointing to the fact that European states had their own issues to settle and had employed those sentiments in their reportage on the Nigerian Civil War (Daily Times, 1968:1).

           

CONCLUSION

During the Nigeria Civil War, assistance of various kinds was sent to Biafra against the wish of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria. Nevertheless, on several occasions, the Portuguese Government denied that she was dealing with Biafra in any form. There were numerous instances contradicting the Portuguese government’s position. Within Nigeria, Portugal’s assistance to Biafra was perceived as an affront to Nigeria and an intervention in Nigeria’s domestic affairs. In another dimension, Portuguese intervention was seen as a revenge action since Nigeria was opposing her colonial activities in Africa.

Indeed, Portugal’s relation with Biafra was a serious cause for concern in Nigeria, that evoked ill feeling against Portugal and different interpretation of what Portugal’s interest was in Nigeria. The Nigeria civil war was, therefore, a decisive stage in Nigeria - Portugal relations.

 

REFERENCES

 

Achebe, Chinua (2012) There was a Country. A Personal History of Biafra. London: Penguin Books.

Ademoyega, Adewale (1981) Why We Struck: The Story of the First Nigeria Coup. Ibadan: Evans brothers Ltd.

Ajala, Adekunle (1986) “Nigeria and Southern Africa”. In Olusanya, Gabriel O. and Akindele R.A (Eds.) Nigerian’s External Relations: The First Twenty-Five Years. Ibadan University Press Ltd.

Ajayi, Peter (1967) “Warns Against Support for Rebel Ojukwu”. Daily Sketch, 25th October.

Akinibi, J. Olukayode (2015) “Exploring the Roles Played by some European and Asiatic Powers during the Nigerian to civil war 1967-1970”, International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences. Vol 5. No 8 August 151-156.

Bukarambe, Bukar (2010). “Nigeria’s Foreign Policy in Africa, 1960-2010: An Interpretative Analysis.” In: Eze, C Osita (Ed) Beyond 50 years of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy: Issues, Challenges and prospects: Lagos. The Nigerian Institute of International Affairs.

Chibundu, Victor N. (2009) Foreign Policy with Particular Reference to Nigeria, 1961-2008. Ibadan: Spectrum Books Ltd.

Daily Express (1963) “Portuguese Diplomat may be kicked out”. 16th October.

Daily Sketch (1968) “France goes all out for Rebels. 30th October.

Daily Times (1968) “Britain and France Clashed Over Arms Deliveries” to Nigeria. 23rd October.

Diris, Olawale (1967) “Portugal should stop Fiddling with Our Affairs”; Daily Sketch, 27th November.

Effiong, Philip (2000) Nigeria and Biafra: My Story. Aba. Business Forum Publications.

For Syth, Frederick (1969) The Making of an Africa Legend: The Biafra story. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

Jorre, John (1972) The Brothers’ war Biafra and Nigeria.  Boston: Houghton Mittlin Company.

Madiebo, Alexander (1980). The Nigerian Revolution and the Biafra War. Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishers.

Morning Post (1967) “Ojukwu’s Rebel Regime in Dilemma” 30th June.

New Nigerian (1969). “Any Attempt to Prolong Current War is an act Against Humanity”. 30th January.

Obasanjo, Olusegun (1980) My Command: An Account of the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970: Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd.

Oluleye, James (1985) Military Leadership in Nigeria, 1966 -1979. Ibadan: University Press Ltd.

Olusanya, Gabriel O and Akindele, R.A. (1986) “The Fundamentals of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy and External Economic Relations”. In Olusanya, Gabriel O and Akindele, R.A (Eds.) Nigeria’s External Relations: The First Twenty-Five Years. Ibadan: University Press Ltd.

Rimi, M.A (1970) Why South Africa and Portugal Support Nigerian Rebels. Lagos: Nigerian International Press Service.

Sunday Times (1967)’A Home’ for Biafra in Lisbon 5th November.

Zabadi, I.S and Onuoha, F.C. (2012) “Nigeria and South Africa: Competition or Cooperation.” In Imobighe, Thomas A. and Warisu O. Alli (Eds.) Perspectives on Nigeria’s National Politics. Politics and External Relations: essays in Honour of Professor A. Bolaji Akinyemi. Ibadan: University Press.

 

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 “ African Studies at CCSU: The Foundation Era, 1992-1997”

Gloria Emeagwali, Founding Coordinator/Director of African Studies (CCSU)

 

During the Shumaker administration at CCSU,  Professor Karen Beyard, Vice President for Academic Affairs, encouraged the establishment of African Studies. My appointment in  1991 was related to this project. One of the  assignments  when hired, was the introduction of  history courses on Africa. This was  done with great enthusiasm on my part, having taught African history courses for eleven years  in three Nigerian universities, before migrating to the United States.

The first meeting of  the African Studies Committee took place twenty-seven years ago on September 14, 1992. Professors Walton Brown- Foster, Sherinatu Fafunwa - Ndibe, Haines  Brown, and myself,  faculty, in Political Science, Fine Arts and History, respectively,  were the members of the newly formed African Studies Committee. The idea was to  eventually involve faculty from different departments and expand the  committee.  The main point of discussion at the first meeting, was a  report of  visits to three African universities, in Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. Professor Timothy Rickard, Professor of Geography and Director of  International and Area Studies Program as well as  Dr. George Clark,  Dean of Arts and Sciences, gave valuable moral support.

During the Fall semester of 1992,  Professor Sherinatu Fafunwa- Ndibe of the Department of Fine Arts, and myself,  embarked on planning a  study abroad trip to Nigeria, for students. By the end of  Spring 1993, there were eleven participants, five of whom were teachers from various parts of Connecticut.  Six were full-time students. Unfortunately,  this planned trip coincided with a seismic shift in Nigerian politics and unexpected turmoil. We had to postpone the trip at the last minute,  to the disappointment of all of us.

Seven meetings of the African Studies Committee took place during the 1992-93 academic year, during which its membership grew from four to eleven, inclusive of a student representative. The African Studies Program of  CCSU hosted  several distinguished scholars between 1992 and 1997. First, we had the Acting Director of the African Studies Association (ASA),  from Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia -  Dr. David Uru Iyam,  who agreed to join us at a luncheon in honor of our first Fulbright Scholar in African Studies, Dr. Ambrose Monye. In 1993 there were two visiting scholars from Africa,  namely, Professor Fafunwa, the former Minister of Education of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and  Dr. Agatha Awgu-Jones from the Ivory Coast.

Dr. Iyam also helped us to launch, in 1993,  the African Studies Club, a student organization, that,  along with the Outreach Unit of the African Studies Committee, sponsored fifteen students to the Annual Conference of the African Studies Association in Boston. We note also the visit by  Dr. Roger Wescott, Professor Emeritus, Drew University -  President of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilization (ISCSC), an expert in several African languages.   Nurudeen Abubakar, a research fellow at Ahmadu Bello University, came from Nigeria to attend the  ASA meeting in Boston and so, too, Professor  Zack-Williams of Central Lancaster University. They  accepted invitations to give talks at CCSU after the conference. Zack Williams spoke  on the theme of Africans in Liverpool and Abubakar,  on the transition to democracy in Nigeria.  Professor  E. J. Alagoa, a senior Fulbright scholar at Brown University, Rhode Island, and president of the Historical Society of Nigeria, came to CCSU to speak on aspects of an African philosophy of history. In that semester of 1993,  Mr. Taolo Moshaga,  a famous musician from Botswana, exposed students and faculty to a repertoire of African music on a four-stringed guitar designed by him to emulate an indigenous instrument. 

The idea of hosting annual conferences on African Studies  began in this era.  In November  19, 1994, about one hundred scholars came to CCSU to attend a conference on Somaliland, at that point a breakaway region of Somalia. Somaliland is today an independent country and our role in hosting some of the political players and pioneers of the nation state in the early era,  has not been forgotten. That conference was attended by  several distinguished  scholars including Dr. Hussein Adam of Holy Cross College, an expert on Somali Studies.  The theme was Conflict Resolution in the Horn of Africa.  Dr. David Shinn of the Bureau of African Affairs and the  U.S Department of State, Washington DC, agreed to deliver the Keynote Address, while  Mr Abdirahim Abbey, Former Under-Secretary to the United Nations, spoke on the roles of NGO’s. Other annual conferences of African Studies were to follow in this era. The Keynote Address at the 2nd Annual  Conference in 1995 was delivered by  Professor Ade Obayemi, Director of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria.

At the  Second Annual Conference on November  1995, Professor Walton Brown-Foster chaired a panel comprising Dr. Tayo Oke, Keele University, UK;  Dr Kudsia Gwangwaa, Kingston University, UK; Dr. Don Ohadike of Cornell University; and Dr. Bade Padru of the University of Louisville, Kentucky. Similarly, Dr. Eudora Chikwendu chaired a panel on African economic recovery.  "Savings behavior in a rural economy" was the title of the paper presented by Dr. Kasirim Nwuke of Harvard University in a panel chaired by Professor Sheri Fafunwa- Ndibe.

A major achievement of the African Studies Committee (ASC), between 1992 and 1997, was the establishment of a book acquisition committee to be run by Professor Gabriel Alungbe, and a journal exchange program, under Professor  Carmichael, who joined CCSU after 1993. The  Consulate General of Nigeria agreed to organize the shipment of books collected. A dinner - lecture series under the chairmanship of Professor Segun Odesina was also launched in this period and  so, too, Africa Update and an African Studies Concentration. During these foundation years there were several outstanding students. Their support for  the program included reviews and commentary on  the various activities taking place. They boldly gave their opinions about various aspects of African Studies.

The ASC was enhanced by the hiring of  Professors Evelyn Phillips, and Warren Perry of  the Department of Anthropology.   Professor  Phillips  and I  accompanied students to Toronto University, Canada,  to attend the annual conference of the African Studies Association in 1995. The under  representation of minorities,  at the various panels, and the conference,  in general, was a major  concern of students. Some of their comments  were included in the early issues of Africa Update. Cassie Iverson, Patton Duncan and Brian Chapman were among the many vibrant and vocal student supporters who left their mark.

African Studies continues to be an important program at CCSU. Professors Charles Mate-Kole, Sherinatu Fafunwa, Warren Perry and Evelyn Philips served as directors between 1997 and 2019. Being a director is a tedious job that involves  balancing the budget and facilitating the visits of invited scholars.  The coordinator/ director chairs monthly meetings and responds to various requests and demands. Incidentally, during my tenure between  1992 and 1997,  I  taught four courses and received no compensation for the time spent directing the program.  It was an exhausting exercise, though  immensely  rewarding.

We are all  proud of the work we did in the foundation years, an era that is an important part of the historical record.

BOARD:

Gloria Emeagwali 
Chief Editor
 
emeagwali@ccsu.edu

Walton Brown-Foster
Copy Editor
brownw@ccsu.edu

Haines Brown
Adviser
brownh@hartford-hwp.com

Dann Broyld
Asst.Editor
d.broyld@ccsu.edu 

 

 

ISSN  1526-7822

REGIONAL EDITORS:

Olayemi Akinwumi 
(Nigeria)

Ayele Bekerie
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Osakue Omoera
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Alfred Zack-Williams 
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Gumbo Mishack

(South Africa)

 

 

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