September 27, 2011 New Literary Series Highlights African Poets and Writers

Series Debuts on Oct. 7 with Lecture by Ali Mazrui

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The Library of Congress, in partnership with The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa, is launching a new literary series, “Conversations with African Poets and Writers.” The series will kick off with a discussion on contemporary African culture by Ali Mazrui, director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies and the Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Mazrui, one of the world’s most prolific writers on Africa, will discuss “Post- Independence African Literature” at noon on Friday, Oct. 7 in the African and Middle Eastern Division’s Reading Room, in the Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First Street, S.E. Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public but seating is limited.

Organized by the African Section of the African and Middle Eastern Division, in collaboration with the Poetry and Literature Center, the literary series will consist of interviews with established and emerging poets, short-story writers, novelists and playwrights from continental and diasporic Africa. Each program will include a reading and a moderated discussion led by staff in the African section of the African and Middle Eastern Division. The series will be accessible on the Library’s website at

Born in Kenya, Mazrui earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Manchester in England, a master’s degree from Columbia University in New York and a doctorate from Oxford University in England. He spent 10 years at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, where he served as head of the Political Science department and dean of the faculty of Social Sciences as well as dean of the Law faculty. From 1974-1991, he served as professor of political science at the University of Michigan where he directed the Center for Afro-American and African Studies from 1978-1981.

Mazrui is also the Albert Luthuli Professor-at-Large at the University of Jos in Nigeria and the Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large Emeritus and senior scholar in Africana Studies at Cornell University. He was also appointed chancellor of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology by Kenya’s head of state.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at

The African and Middle Eastern Division is the Library’s center for the study of some 78 countries and regions from Southern Africa to the Maghreb and from the Middle East to Central Asia. The African Section is the focal point of the Library's collection development, reference, and bibliographic activities for the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. For information on its collections, visit

The Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress fosters and enhances the public’s appreciation of literature. The center administers the endowed poetry chair (the U.S. Poet Laureate), and coordinates an annual literary season of poetry, fiction and drama readings, performances, lectures and symposia, sponsored by the Library’s Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund and the Huntington Fund. For more information,

The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. The mission of The Africa Society is to educate all Americans about the diverse cultures, histories and economies of the countries comprising the continent of Africa. For more information, visit External.


PR 11-177
ISSN 0731-3527