Dr. Ezenwa discusses implications of 19th century missionaries to Africa
November 16, 2021
Dr. Chinelo Ezenwa, Writing Specialist at The Write Place and part-time faculty member in the Writing Program at King’s, took part in The African Conversations Series at Western University on October 28, 2021.
The Series, presented by the Africa Institute at Western, is held regularly, on a monthly basis, to keep conversations going on key and pertinent African topics. The talks will be held with a flexible format, featuring panels, single speakers, workshops, among others. It will be a forum for presenting contemporary African and African Diaspora topics.
Dr. Ezenwa took part in the Series because of her strong attachment to The Africa Institute at Western. “I believe that the work they do is not only an important way of cultivating relationships between Western researchers and scholars in the African continent, but also it provides a much-needed space for students of African origin and those involved in Black Studies,” says Dr. Ezenwa.
“It is important to hear different voices and it is important to give 'young' scholars like myself the room to have ‘conversations’ with other scholars who may be engaged in similar work. Such allyship is important and a necessary part of building academia and the immediate community,” says Dr. Ezenwa.
During the African Conversations Series, Dr. Ezenwa presented on her recently defended thesis, "Bible Translations and Literary Responses: Re-reading Missionary Interventions in Africa through Local Perspectives.” Her thesis reflects on the implications of 19th century missionary interventions for Africans, by drawing attention to how missionary translations and schooling facilitated colonial rule in Africa.
Dr. Ezenwa was joined in the Series by Dr. Nassissee Solomon, Program Coordinator for the Global Health Systems MMASc, who presented on the topic “Rooted in History, Representations and Perceptions of Ethiopian Identities in Canada.”
The conversation was an opportunity for both Dr. Ezenwa and Dr. Solomon to share highlights from their recently defended Ph.D.’s. While the two had not met before the event and their research addresses different parts of Africa and different issues, Dr. Ezenwa found many common themes between the two theses: the question of using history to read the present, and the impact of missionary work in Africa. Each speaker's research is rooted in how history or historical events (negatively) impact on the contemporary representations of peoples from different African communities.
“The larger implications of this history, for me, is that one should read ‘history’ critically, and with a mind to discovering how it is implicated in the present. Additionally, given that the acclaimed purpose of the missionaries and, to some degree, colonials who went to the African continent in the 19th century, was to ‘save’ Africa, it is also a call to be critical about information presented to us about others, especially when it is from a hegemonic group,” says Dr. Ezenwa.