Reassessing the Debate on African Studies at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Why African Studies Matter


  • Soji Akomolafe


I first pointed to the problems and prospects of Africanizing Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in 2000. Twenty years later, I am revisiting the subject but this time, only to suggest that beyond the symbolism of common heritage, a well-crafted comprehensive African Studies program ubiquitously offered at HBCUs can help mitigate the ‘social distance’ that currently characterizes the relationship between Africans and African Americans. The premise of my argument is that African Studies can be used to reconstitute at HBCUs the spirit of pan-Africanism that engendered such a close relationship between the diaspora and the continent which, by the way, was so helpful in securing independence for many African nations. Regrettably, reminiscent of the past twenty years, in the relentless absence of a robust constituency to advocate for its cause, African Studies continues to take a backseat at HBCUs for lack of serious commitment at the highest level.


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Author Biography

Soji Akomolafe

Soji Akomolafe is Professor of International Relations and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Norfolk State University, VA. He received a BA (French/English Combined Honors) from the University of Lagos (1980), and an MS (International Relations) from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University both in Nigeria (1984). In 1991, he obtained a Doctorate in International Relations from the University of Bordeaux, France. From 2003-2007, he served as the Director of the Center for Global Education at Norfolk State. Before joining NSU, Dr. Akomolafe served as the Director of International Programs at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, from 1992-2003.  He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads (2004-2010; 2015-Present) and as Vice President from 2018 to 2020. His research interests center on the plight of minorities in international education and the foreign policy establishment. He is co-author of two books and nine chapters in numerous books.  Dr. Akomolafe has visited and established working relationships in many countries around the world including South Africa, England, China, Scotland, Peru, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Mexico, South Korea, Canada, and of course France and Nigeria. 



How to Cite

Akomolafe, S. (2021). Reassessing the Debate on African Studies at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Why African Studies Matter. STAR Scholar Books. Retrieved from