Thursday, June 26, 2014

News from Nairobi

By James Chege
Maryknoll Institute of African Studies
Editor: Father Michael C. Kirwen, Director

Second Three-Week Immersion Program

On Tuesday, June 17, the second and final immersion program of the academic year began. The session welcomed a host of returning students as well as six new students. Of the new students, three are U.S. citizens, including Kyle Black an Assistant Professor at Saint Mary’s. There is also a Spanish national and two Kenyans. The second immersion program features the courses African culture: an overview and Moral Teaching and Practices of African Traditional Religion. The courses are being taught by Prof. Mary Getui and Prof. Douglas Waruta respectively.

Students and field assistants mingle during the morning break.

Public Lecture on Political and Economic Situation of Kenya

As part of the first weeks activities, a public lecture was given on the present political, social and economic situation in Kenya. The guest speaker was Dr. George Outa, a renown literary scholar and lawyer. His lecture touched on democracy since the collapse of the Berlin wall in 1990s, tracing developments until the present day,  and the present Kenyan context.

Dr. George  Outa addresses students and field assistants during the public lecture.

Insecurity in Kenya and the current threat from the Somalia based terror group Al-shabaab  was one of the focal points of the presentation, raising questions on why other countries like Ethiopia, Uganda or Rwanda, who are also part of the AMISON forces deployed to Somalia, are not being targeted by the terrorists. The lecture lasted two hours with a lively and interactive question-and-answer session at the end.

Special Two-Day Course Offered for Lasallian Students

On Monday, June 23, a group of six Lasallians students began a special two-day course on African culture and African religion at MIASMU. The group has travelled from various parts of the U.S. to visit schools in Kenya with Lasallian links.

MIASMU director Father Michael Kirwen addresses the Lasallian students on the opening day.

The course was designed to prepare them for processing their experiences while visiting various schools and institutions in Kenya by opening a door both into an understanding of African cultures and religions, and a deeper understanding of their own cultural realities.  The course was taught by Prof. Mary Getui on Monday and Dr. Michael Katola on Tuesday.