Thursday, December 1, 2005
By: Swallehe Msuya
Joseph Mbele, professor of English at St. Olaf College in Northfield featured in the first event of “Meet the Author” series organized by Mshale on Sunday, November 13 at Profile Café in
. He introduced his latest book titled Africans and Americans – Embracing Cultural Differences – to an enthusiastic audience that attended the inaugural event.
His book has made a significant mark in media reviews and broadcasting networks is a handy companion for travelers crossing from to
and vice-versa to make educated decisions in coping with cultural differences.
In a lively exchange that ensured, Professor Mbele who has lived in for a considerable period of time and was raised in displayed his understanding of both cultures of Africans and Americans. He said he has accompanied American teams to African visits and his book answers many of the concerns that people raise once they step outside the comfort zone of their own culture.
Giving the example of some body language when Africans hold a conversation, he said culturally they do not maintain eye contact. Americans are the very opposite of that and when an African is being interviewed for a job by an American, not maintaining eye contact may make him lose some marks. Americans believe in maintaining eye contact as a sign of a truthful person.
He said he could relate to some African-American culture of shouting or calling out names across the street as a typical African habit. He explained that if a mother has not seen her child after going out to play for a long time, she simply screams out her name – “Maria, where are you? Come home it is getting dark.” This kind of noise in the village does not bother anyone in
, if you are parting in your house and there is some loud music, he pointed out, neighbors get furious and usually call in the police. In
, the louder the music, the greater the excitement for everyone.
Professor Mbele also spoke about the sense of time among Africans where an event announced to start at 2.00 pm usually starts an hour later. Asked if this was a good habit for Africans in the European and American world to carry forward, he admitted that when in
, we have to behave like Romans. He however cautioned that Europeans and Americans going to
must be prepared for delays in appointments and unscheduled visits and phone calls some of which may extend for hours.
The Book Reading experience was appreciated by those who showed up as a culturally fertilizing activity that will stimulate the habit of book reading as a way to broaden our horizons of knowledge and they pledged to bring in their friends on next event of its kind. Mshale newspaper promised to hold a “Meet the Author” event in intervals of every two months.
Professor Mbele signed copies of his book purchased by attendees who came to experience the mindset behind the author of a book that they so proudly enjoyed to posses. The next Book Reading event will be announced in the calendar of events section of Mshale newspaper and via email. Mshale Publisher, Tom Gitaa, said Profile Café will continue to be the venue for future Meet The Author series events. Proifle Café, with free parking and located within walking distance of the
is owned by Abdulrahman Kahin.