Cameroonian Scholar Wins 2013 ‘African Hero’ Award

African Update – 09/05/13

Internationally-recognised anthropologist, University of Cape Town’s, UCT, Prof. Francis Beng Nyamnjoh was named African Hero of the Year for 2013 by the African Student Union, ASU, of Ohio University, USA, recently.

ASU’s annual African Hero Day celebration honours one person from the continent that has made a significant contribution to improving the lives of its inhabitants.

Cameroonian-born Nyamnjoh follows a long line of distinguished African Heroes, the first of whom was former South African President Nelson Mandela in 1993.

Nyamnjoh’s honour recognises his “outstanding contribution to the advancement of Africa through your scholarship as well as teaching practice”, as the winner’s plaque reads.

“The award means a lot to me, for the simple fact that it comes from students who have followed my work from a distance and are able to appreciate it,” says Nyamnjoh. “This is most humbling and encouraging. I hope I am able to live up to the challenge they have thrown my way,” the scholar added.

Nyamnjoh chairs the Social Anthropology section of UCT’s School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics and boasts a prolific publications profile. His impressive bibliography includes work on media and democracy; mobility and citizenship, and of the social shaping of information and communications technologies.

Rated as B2 by the National Research Foundation, the scholar’s career began at the University of Yaoundé, Cameroon, where he earned a BA, 1984 and MA, 1985 before completing PhD at the University of Leicester in the UK in 1990.

Prior to joining UCT in 2009, Nyamnjoh taught sociology, anthropology and communication studies in universities across Cameroon, including the University of Buea, UB, the University of Botswana before serving as head of publications at the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, CODESRIA, from 2003 to 2009.

The ASU 2013 Award for Prof Francis Beng Nyamnjoh

In October 2012 he received a University of Cape Town Excellence Award for “Exceptional Contribution as a Professor in the Faculty of Humanities” after being inducted as a fellow of the Cameroon Academy of Science in August 2011.

Nyamnjoh declined offers of permanent teaching posts at American and European universities. He maintained that he would rather plough his expertise back into Africa and taught at various universities around the continent. Nyamnjoh was awarded the Senior Arts Researcher of the Year prize in Botswana.

He displays great confidence in Africa’s continuing contribution to academia. “There are African scholars and scholarship of global stature in all disciplines, and Africa is increasingly the continent to turn to for new ways of theorising and understanding our world. It offers fascinating everyday examples of the complex, nuanced and accommodating negotiation and navigation of myriad influences by ordinary people,” ASU stated in a communiqué.

Nyamnjoh has written extensively on issues as diverse as democratisation, ethnicity and regionalism in Africa, globalization, and the role and place of the media in Africa. His most recent books include; Negotiating an Anglophone Identity (2003), Rights and the Politics of Recognition in Africa (2004), Africa’s Media, Democracy and the Politics of Belonging (2005). He is the author of five works of fiction – a play, The Convert and four novels: Mind Searching (1991), The Disillusioned African (1995), A Nose for Money (2006) and Souls Forgotten (2008).

He has served as Vice-President of the African Council for Communication Education, ACCE, from 1996-2003.

A prolific writer, social and political commentator, the writings of Nyamnjoh are socially relevant and engaging even to the non-specialist.

University of Ohio African Student Union (ASU) Honours Prof. Nyanmjoh ( in dark suit & kaki trouser)

He is also the author, co-author of a plethora of books, plays and papers presented that can be found in his bibliography.

The Cameroonian is a highly sought-after and revered scholar-professor. He has served several national, Pan-African, and international research and development institutions in or working in Africa. He is an African to the core and has turn down several invitations to take-up permanent teaching position in Europe and America, but he has elected to visit Universities in the West just to present talks that advance the intellectual course of Africa, or as external examiner to M.A. and PhD theses and dissertations on Africa.

Although Nyamnjoh is literally married to African scholarship, he is available to the global intellectual community so long as that is to advance the African epistemology.

Awards Galore!

Among the awards that acknowledge Nyamnjoh’s service to the intellectual community and studentship in Africa include; “Senior Arts Researcher of the Year for 2003” at the University of Botswana; in 2010 he was rated a “B2” professor and researcher by the South African National Research Foundation (researchers who enjoy considerable international recognition by their peers for the high quality and impact of their recent research output) valid from 1st January 2011 to 31st December 2016; and was equally inducted as a Fellow of the Cameroon Academy of Science in August 2011. He is a beneficiary of numerous, highly competitive fellowships in the world and is member of scholarly, professional associations in Africa: IAI, IFC, AGGSS, ACCE, CIKO, CODESRIA, HSRC, PAAA, SARCHI, and serves in the editorial board of several Pan-African peer reviewed journals: Critical Arts, Ecquid Novi, International Journal of Comic Art, Africa Affairs, African Studies, Media Development, American Ethnologist, African Diaspora, Journal of Transnational Africa in a Global World, African Studies Review, Journal of Modern African Studies, Journal of African Media Studies, Zed Books and more.

The ASU 2013 ‘African Hero’ Award took place March 16 2013 at the Baker Ballroom, Athens, Ohio University, USA.


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