New Campus Magazine Deals with African Issues
On Monday evening in Bolyston Hall, the 32-page first issue of The Harvard African was distributed, capping a year-long process that began when several undergraduates agreed that they felt existing campus publications were not providing enough coverage of the crucial political and social issues affecting the vast continent.
“Existing publications provide information on just about every topic under the sun, except for Africa,” said Thenjiwe N. Nkosi ’04, co-editor of the magazine.
Nkosi said the magazine’s founders felt the information already available to Harvard students on African issues is incomplete, and sometimes even inaccurate.
The Harvard African, she said, will bridge this information gap.
“[The African] continent has been relatively neglected on the campus informational landscape, as well as in campus courses and in general campus discourse,” Nkosi said. “This attitude of little concern for Africa is an unfortunate reality not just at Harvard, but also in most of the Western world.”
The Harvard International Review had been the primary source of issue-oriented foreign policy coverage distributed to students until now. Other publications focus on cultures ranging from Korea to Europe to Latin America.
According to Paul R. Maasdorp ‘03, co-editor of the magazine, there were several times before when undergraduates tried to start an Africa-focused magazine—but always stalled in the planning stages.
“It is hard to put together ideas, money and people—and especially concerning such a topic,” Maasdorp said.
Maasdorp said that for now the magazine will not have any specific political leaning, instead allowing each contributor to make his or her own argument.
“The magazine,” Maasdorp said, “is just going to supply information to the people.”
Nkosi said that because Africa is such “a politicized continent,” the magazine may not remain neutral for long.
The magazine’s editors say they hope the bi-annual publication will introduce new African issues to many Harvard undergraduates who may not yet be familiar with the nuances of such a huge and complex area.
“The continent is vast, and sometimes our knowledge does not extend far beyond the countries and issues that we have a particular interest in,” Nkosi said.
“My hope is that this magazine will continue to contribute something of Africa to the Harvard community as well as to the enrichment of those who work on it,” she added.
History of Art and Architecture and African-American Studies Professor Suzanne Blier, who is one of the faculty advisers to The Harvard African, said the magazine will fill a gap that has been existing at Harvard for a long time.
“In bringing [The Harvard African] out, you have brought illumination in terms of images to Harvard which were not here before,” she said.
The first issue of The Harvard African is dedicated to the memory of Phillipe E. Wamba ’93, a rising African-American literary talent who was killed in an automobile accident in Kenya last September.