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Stanford African student organizations and Stanford African alumni



Sauti journal cover

Green Library features an exhibit of Stanford African student organizations and African alumni. An Organization of African Students at Stanford (OASS) existed in the 1960s.  In 1979, the Stanford African Students Association (SASA) was founded. Over the years, SASA has organized educational and cultural events for the Stanford community.

Other African student organizations, present and past, include the Nigerian Students Association (NAIJA), the Stanford Ethiopian and Eritrean Students Association (SEESA), and the Association of Stanford Southern Africans (ASSA). 2003 Stanford Conference

Among Stanford alumni you will discover in the exhibit are two of Stanford’s African Rhodes Scholars, the first Kenyan woman to serve as High Commissioner (Ambassador) to the United Kingdom and first woman Head of the Kenya Public Service, two alumni who are South African university presidents, the founder of an African secondary school which now sends students to Stanford, the woman who created Ethiopia’s first commodities exchange, and SASA’s 2012 cultural night performer (then, not well-known) who three years later succeeded Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show.

Sauti journal cover imageIn 1982, the Stanford African Students Organization (SASA) produced a journal, Mawazo. It contained welcome messages from the late Professor St. Clair Drake, the Patron of SASA, and from Emeritus Professor Will Leben then Chair of the Committee on African Studies.

Prof. Leben wrote in the Mawazo’s 1982 maiden issue  –

“Stanford’s African students have always been an active group, always involved in our center’s activities …perhaps also partly out of the desire to see that the job of representing Africa to Americans was done right, …With the formation of SASA in 1979, this campus and the outlying community began to benefit from a new burst of activities organized by African students…Now SASA has undertaken another ambitious enterprise in putting out…this issue. Once again, SASA is helping our center to fulfil its goal of educating people about Africa. Once again we express our gratitude to SASA for this work and we express the hope that the fruits of this effort will travel far.”

Early Chairmen of African Studies were Professor William O. Jones (Food Research Institute) and Professor Joseph H. Greenberg (a linguist in the Anthropology Department). The present Chair of the Center for African Studies is Professor Richard Roberts (History) who was recently honored with 7 panels at the 2015 African Studies Association conference.SASA’s 1997 Africa Week keynote speaker was Hafsat Abiola, a Nigerian democracy, youth leadership activist.

Stanford has had African alumni since at least the 1950s. The late Dr. Njoroge Mungai (Stanford 1952 AB Biological Sciences and 1957 MD Medicine) became Kenya’s Minister of Health, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defense, and personal physician to Kenya’s President.  In January 9, 1952, the Stanford Daily interviewed him when he was a pre-med student.

Early African alumni include - Michael Asafo-Boakye  (1957 BS Civil Engineering), Dr. Emmanuel Andah, (1962 AB Economics, 1964 AM Food Research), who became a professor in Ghana; two Sierra Leone students who received Master degrees in 1961 – Sylvia M. Kuda (now Kude MA Education) and Freddie B. Savage (MA Political Science); Michael Iserhien Ero (1963 BS Mechanical Eng, 1965 MS Mechanical Eng, 1966 ENG Mechanical Engineering); Albert Okwudiba Nnoli (1964 AB Biological Sciences, 1967 PHD Political Science) who became a political science professor, and Lawrence Chukwudebe (1964 BS Electrical Eng, 1966 MBA Business).

John Pearson, Director of the Bechtel International Center, compiled statistics of Stanford African students from 1994 to 2015. The total for 1994 to 2015 was 1,327 students.

Photographs of Nairobi, Kenya next to the exhibit are by Musila Munuve (Stanford 2017), a former SASA Co-President, now SASA’s Publicity Manager and a computer science major. 

The exhibit is part of the Center for African Studies’ 50th Anniversary.  May 2016 there will be two faculty panels:

  • May 11 “The First 30 Years of African Studies at Stanford”
  • May 25 “Engaging Africa: Broadening Perspectives”

The Stanford African Students Association holds its annual Cultural Show April 22 in Dinkelspiel Auditorium.

The exhibit is located in two display cases next to Green Library’s Circulation Desk. Special thanks to Elizabeth Fischbach and the Department of Special Collections.

Karen Fung

By Karen Fung