Thursday, September 22, 2011

News from Nairobi

A report from Edith K. Chamwama, editor, Maryknoll Institute of African Studies

The Ethnic and Academic Diversity of MIASMU Students

The Maryknoll Institute of African Studies (MIASMU) reflects a most diverse and dynamic student body. This semester there are 10 Kenyans, two Ugandans, and one each from South Sudan, Poland, Korea, India, Eritrea, the U.S., Philippines and Tanzania. This variety of students enriches the learning environment as classes become a cultural melting pot.

Academically, a few students have doctoral degrees in various fields, many more have master and bachelor degrees, all from reputable institutes of higher learning. All graduate students and faculty of Saint Mary’s are qualified to participate in the institute’s programs.

The five courses of the fall semester

The semester has begun with 28 students. The courses on offer are:

“The Contemporary Political and Economic Realities in Kenya,” which examines political and economic foundations, past and present, of African society. It focuses on the conflicts and crises which are disrupting effective government and economic development.

“African Culture: An Overview,” which is a required course for all students enrolling for a master degree or a diploma. The course is a systematic presentation of african cultural heritage including social groupings, supernatural beliefs and religious systems.

“African Marriage and Family: Challenge and Change” covers various aspects of African marriage and family focusing both on the traditional as well as modern forms. Cross-cultural studies are emphasized, which illustrate the similarities and diversities in values, attitudes and practices within Africa.

“Sage Philosophy” addresses the general nature of sage philosophy and its connection with philosophy and religion in Africa. It answers questions of sages and their views on God, culture, customs, life and death, man and animals.

“Moral Teachings and Practices of African Religion” introduces morality and ethics from the perspective of African religion. It investigates several current moral themes namely, sexuality, death and dying, inter-tribal/ethnic relations. All are considered in the context of sin and salvation from an African viewpoint, and discuss how this understanding of morality continues to influence (ethically) peoples’ lives in contemporary Africa.