Love, Memory, History, and Fiction: What Do You Know About Africa?

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New library exhibit highlights African Studies

If you have walked through the foyer in the Snoqualmie Building lately, you may have noticed our newest exhibit — a display including books, magazines, film, and more about Africa. This collection of library materials was curated by UW Tacoma Library staff Jamal Gabobe. The colorful selection in the exhibit — which reflects a variety of topics from various regions throughout the continent — focuses mostly on African literature and art.   

Jamal is of Somali origin but grew up in the Middle East (Aden, Yemen), and feels his interest in cultures comes naturally. But his involvement with African Studies increased while earning a PhD in Comparative Literature at UW Seattle, which offers a minor in African Studies. After he began working at UW Tacoma Library, he came in contact with students, staff, and faculty who expressed interest in a higher profile for African Studies on the UW Tacoma campus.  He enjoys discussing this topic, and has counseled African students, and guest lectured about African literature and arts.

However, Jamal would like to see African Studies take root and flourish at UW Tacoma:  

"I think African Studies contribute to the intellectual development of students. UW Tacoma is an urban-based campus.  Many African universities also belong to that category.  So there is a commonality there. But most importantly, it would enhance UW Tacoma’s image as a campus that embraces diversity,” Jamal says. His hope is that a wider variety of courses on African Studies will be offered, then a minor.  

Especially since UW Tacoma strives to embrace inclusion and diversity, offering courses, special events, and other information about Africa helps enrich the UW Tacoma environment. This library exhibit is “a good opportunity to extend UW Tacoma’s policy of inclusion to Africa and the African diaspora,” Jamal reflects.

When asked to share interesting details about the pieces in the display, Jamal explained that he thinks every item is unique, but “the Africa and Cinema quiz is a light and interesting way of learning about Africa, and Sandra Chait’s book Seeking Salam focuses on some of the people from the Horn of Africa who live in the Pacific Northwest.” Indeed, the exhibit is a great opportunity to learn more about Africa — and Jamal welcomes questions and conversation. You can contact him at, or ask for him at the front desk in Snoqualmie.  

Want to learn more?

To explore more that UW Libraries offers in relation to African Studies, visit the African Studies and African History research guides. Find specific country data by digging into our country information resources.

In terms of fiction, Jamal’s favorite African authors are Tayeb Salih from Sudan and Chinua Achebe from Nigeria. Jamal recommends Salih's novels Season of Migration to the North (online|print) and The Wedding of Zein and Other Stories (online|print) and Achebe's Things Fall Apart (online|print) and No Longer at Ease (online|print).

And Jamal is a poet and published author himself!  In addition to his article about Canadian writer Margaret Laurence, “Colonial and Anti-colonial Discourse in Margaret Laurence’s The Prophet’s Camel Bell,” his book of poetry, Love & Memory, can be found in UW Libraries, along with his PhD dissertation, Elmi Bodari and the Construction of the Modern Somali Subject in a Colonial and Sufi Context.  Select the Availability & Request Options or Online Access tab to read online or to request one of these works to add to your summer reading list!  

Written by: 
J. Angela Wiehagen  / August 21, 2016
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