MSU Denver
2nd Umoja Community Conversations Conference

The Africana Studies Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver will host the 2nd Umoja Community Conversations Conference in a virtual format on October 19-20, 2021, from 9:30am-2pm on both days. The theme of the conference is “Contemporary issues in Africa amid the Covid-19 pandemic”.

In Africa, as in other parts of the world, it is very evident that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every sphere of life including travel, education, business, the informal sector, religion, health, sports and entertainment. According to (Zeleza, 2021), ’the COVID-19 pandemic offers a stark reflection of national and global political economies in disarray and the colossal under-investments in the economic and social well-being of the masses of working people’.

The Chair of the conference is Dr. Douglas Mpondi, Professor and Chair of the Department of Africana Studies at MSU Denver. The keynote speaker for the conference is Dr. Ato Kwamena Onoma and he will speak on “Inequality and the transformative power of COVID-19: Thoughts on the African context.” Dr. Onoma is the Head of Research Program at the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), based in Dakar, Senegal. He has previously taught political science courses at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA. He is the author of The politics of property rights institutions in Africa (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009) and Anti-refugee violence and African politics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013). His current work uses epidemics and interment practices to explore inter-communal relations in Africa. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Ghana, Legon and a doctorate in Political Science from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.

Along with the Keynote Speaker are presenters from different countries in Africa and Europe to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic in their countries of academic interest. “We are lucky to virtually host respected and renowned academics and civil society leaders from Ghana, Ethiopia, Hungary, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe” said Professor Mpondi, the conference Chair. He added that “this virtual conference will bring an Africanist atmosphere to MSU Denver and it is a first of its kind to host such a large number of African academics in one conference, and students and the community will benefit immensely from their expertise.”

The conference will also feature local speakers from the African Diasporic Community in Denver, Colorado, to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic in their countries of origin. An MSU Denver students panel from Professor Mpondi’s Contemporary Africa class will share their research on selected African countries they are focusing on in the course for their news sharing and African country project.


Sponsors: College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, The Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Department of Political Science

2nd Umoja Community Conversations Conference Video