Lauren Brown (Fulbright ETA from NYU): « Black Hair is the Root to Panafricanism », My Coloful Nana.

In collaboration with the Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA, US State Department) and the Institute for International Education (IIE), the West African Research Center has been operating as host institution for all American Fulbrighters posted in West African as part of the Fulbright Support Services Program in Africa initially scheduled to start in 2020 but postponed until 2021-2022 because of the Covid Pandemic. As such, the Center is now poised to be the focal point for all American Fulbrighters in the West African sub-region with the task to support and assist those researchers and assistant teachers in their activities and also for their proper installation and integration in the various communities they are assigned and serve in.

Lauren Brown, serving as English Teaching Assistant in Dakar and a student at New York University, offered to make a presentation on Thursday, June 16th in the afternoon. The topic she covered, « Black Hair is the Root of Panafricanism » was well attended both in-person and via zoom and YouTube.

After the words of welcome from the Director of WARC, Prof Ousmane Sene, Lauren, with her co-presenters, Dr Korka Sall (MSID/Senegal) and Jani Cash (an English Teaching Assistant Fulbrighter) discussed how art and community have strengthened and further complexified the understanding of language analysis in relation to identity formation. Lauren, in particular, insisted on the inextricable relations between creative work, academic research and activism. This is, indeed, borne out by the examples given by a number of illustrious artists, writers and academics in African and the African American community: Bell Hooks, Tiken Jah Fakoli, Josephine Baker, Alpha Blondy, Whoopi Goldberg, Lucky Dube, Toni Morrison etc…..

While one of the co-presenters, Dr Korka Sall, expatiated on Panafricanism, language analysis, identity formation and cultural re-framing, the other Fulbrighter, Jani Cash (ETA) offered a few lines of analysis and read some of her poems.

The panel presentations were followed by questions, answers and observations from a public of no less than 73 people (in-person and virtual).