“Love Memory Reaching Out”: Furrowing Africa’s Killing Fields

Dr. Kevin M. Hickey
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My paper looks at how Côte d’Ivoirean Véronique Tadjo, in The Shadow of Imana (trans. of the Céline-echoing L’Ombre D’Imana: Voyages jusqu’au bout du Rwanda), and Zimbabwean Yvonne Vera, in The Stone Virgins, use the histories of two nations (i.e., Rwanda and Zimbabwe), histories full of gendered traumas that interconnect ideas of nation and women and race, to promote more convivial and sustainable futures. When Vera writes that “A new nation needs to restore its past,” this holds true not only for “Zimbabwe” emerging from “Rhodesia,” but all nations of sub-Saharan Africa. Within the contexts of both South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and ongoing “genocide trials” in Rwanda, my paper looks at history and healing in Tadjo and Vera to discuss how Africans confronting some of the most horrific events of the last century are pulling the humanities in a new direction.

But how do we enact this in the classroom? How can “memory reach out” and connect? As a practicing teacher, my answer to this includes two points: first, what we see in both Tadjo and Vera is the need for vigilance, not just understanding how historical events occurred but the need to be proactive; thus the humanities need to engage not with how to deal with problems once they begin but how vigilance (and thus student engagement) may prevent problems from beginning. Second (as an addendum to my paper, the focus being on the literature), I argue that Tablet PC applications such as Dyknow and OneNote support active learning practices that foster communities of engagement, and these communities allow student groups more independently to arrive at conclusions and insights. This more independent and active engagement makes the humanities experience more real, more lasting.

Keywords: History, Gender, Ethnicity, Race, Citizenship, Africa
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Furrowing Africa’s Killing Fields

Dr. Kevin M. Hickey

Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Albany College of Pharmacy
Albany, New York, USA

My research focuses on ideas about space (e.g., center, margin, underground, home, museum, nation) and power. Specifically, I look at how long-19th-century metaphysical and Romantic philosophies both supported and disrupted ideas of the expanding British empire and at how African and Afro-diasporic writers attempt to transform these colonial ideas to argue a longstanding African presence that counters dominant concepts (i.e., colonial concepts) of space and the power structures sustained by those concepts. I ask how these “transformed ideas” promote a more just and sustainable world.

Additionally, I am working on a book about my six-year (61,000 kms) bicycle trip through Europe and Africa; it includes an emphasis on kitchens, birds, and connecting with others.

Ref: H06P0442