Panel Discussions

CONFERENCE THEME

NEO-COLONIALISM: ACHEBE’S PERSPECTIVE


CONFERENCE NARRATIVE

Chinua Achebe’s classic novel, Things Fall Apart, is a transformative text that awakened and heightened African consciousness. The novel’s principal character, Okonkwo, is disheartened by the new beliefs, attitudes, and practices brought by European colonizers and adopted by some members of the clan he left to serve a seven-year exile. Upon his return to Umuofia, his dreams of achieving even more greatness are disrupted by the changes wrought in the clan by intruding colonialists. He notices significant changes in his clan’s philosophies, principles, and practices and is dismayed that the white invaders have converted some of his people, even his family members. The white man has built courts, prisons, and even begun to govern the people. As his friend, Obierika, reminds him, the white man’s government hanged one of the clansmen involved in a violent land dispute. Obierika, who is a deep thinker, realizes that the European intruders had decisively divided the clan. His words resonate powerfully: The white man “put a knife on the things that held us together, and we have fallen apart.”

Okonkwo is deeply displeased by the changes and personally outraged that his son, Nwoye, has converted to Christianity, taking on the name of Isaac.  He is convinced that his people have been caught up in a spell, robbed of their bravery, and conditioned into a state of docile submissiveness.  He recognizes that his people’s way of life has been contaminated and whitewashed. With that belief, he quickly concludes that the existential threat cannot be reversed as his clan members have lost the will to fight off the colonizers and reclaim their traditional way of life.

More than sixty years after the publication of Things Fall Apart, people of African ancestry around the world seem to reel from the lingering effects of that altered consciousness triggered by European colonialism. Will Africans ever reclaim that displaced center so powerfully described by Achebe in his seminal first novel? What forces are shaping the lives and destinies of people of African ancestry today? And what are the prospects for homegrown knowledge systems in determining the future of people of African descent?

PANEL DISCUSSION 1 10:30AM – 12:00AM

Foreign Aid: China in Africa – Implications for Growth and Development
PANEL DISCUSSION NARRATIVE


PANEL DISCUSSION 2 12:00AM – 1:30PM

Africans and African Americans in Conversation: Sibling Rivalry or Synergy? (Opportunities for Collaboration)
PANEL DISCUSSION NARRATIVE


PANEL DISCUSSION 3 2:00PM – 3:30 PM

A Look at Women’s Emancipation: Negative or Positive Societal Impact
PANEL DISCUSSION NARRATIVE


PANEL DISCUSSION 4 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM

System Racism: Is the System Rigged Against Blacks and What Has the Home Got to Do With Avoiding the Traps?
PANEL DISCUSSION NARRATIVE