The Hybrid

You have been given the task of designing a new course. What would you call it and what lessons do you hope the students will learn?


When my grandmother arrived in the Nigerian village of Nowa for the first time, women wearing nothing but dyed fabrics tied around their waists danced in procession behind the vehicle that my newly wedded grandfather drove. My grandmother tells me this with a youthful gleam in her eye and it is not difficult to imagine the opinionated young woman who, for perhaps the first time, was startled into silence by the harsh contrast of rural Nigerian life to the 'city ways' she had acquired in Kampala, Uganda.

In 1965, my grandmother left her country to establish a marital home in that of my grandfather's and, beginning with the disapproval of her mother-in-law, my family has been since split between the divides posed by East and West African influences. My mother was raised to be a strong Ugandan woman and I, in turn, gained an intimate appreciation for the subtle yet glaring differences between my both of my inherited cultures. However, I remain a hybrid to many Africans: mild-mannered yet outspoken; a lover of both bland banana samo dishes and flaming hot pepper soups. Imagine my mortification when, during an international youth forum, an American student asked if I spoke 'African'. I did not know how to answer him. Indeed, the...

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