Sunday, April 28, 2013

Finally, I Have Met Patrick Hemingway

Yesterday and today I was in Montana, meeting with Patrick Hemingway, the only remaining child of Ernest Hemingway. At his request, we met in a town called Craig.

As someone who studies and teaches Ernest Hemingway's works, I had, for years, dreamed about meeting Patrick Hemingway. I knew he has much to say about his father's life and work. This weekend that dream came true, and I am thrilled.

Patrick spent 25 years in Tanganyika, later Tanzania. He worked as a tour guide and then as instructor at the Mweka Wildlife Colllege. When Ernest Hemingway went on safari in East Africa, 1953-54, Patrick accompanied him for part of the time. I knew that there is no other person alive who knows more than Patrick the story of Hemingway's African connection.

In the coming days, maybe not right away, I plan to tell the story of how I first contacted Patrick, about two years ago, and how, finally, my dream of meeting him came true this weekend.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Writer Jim Heynen at St. Olaf College

Today, writer Jim Heynen visited St. Olaf College for a reading and book signing. He read some of his short stories and excerpts from his latest novel, The Fall of Alice K.

I was priviledged to coordinate Jim's visit and to introduce him to the audience. Jim had taught in the English Department at St. Olaf College, from 1992-2007. He was a great colleague. I told him then that I greatly admired his stories of farm boys, since I also grew up in a rural area, steeped in farming.

Jim is a prolific writer. Starting with collections of short stories such as The One-Room Schoolhouse, and the The Man Who Kept Cigars in His Cap, he went on to write novels for young adults, including Cosmos Coyote and Being Youngest. He also writes poetry.

Jim's reading today was delightful. Everyone liked his stories very much. After the reading, Jim signed copies of his book, as can be seen in the photos featured here.

Jim's visit was sponsored by the St. Olaf College Bookstore and the English Department. Here on the left is Jim, flanked by Ruth Block of the St. Olaf College Bookstore and me.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

My Daughters in a Fund-raising Event for ThreeSixty Journalism

Today, two of daughters participated in a run to raise funds for ThreeSixty Journalism. The event was held in Minneapolis.

In 2009, one these girls, seen in the photos wearing a headband, was selected to join ThreeSixty Journalism's summer course. This is a competitive program for high school students interested in journalism and the media. The students learn about writing and creating programs for the media. It is a great opportunity to gain journalistic knowledge and also meet leading reporters and other media people.

As part of her field training, my daughter went to a Somali community in Minneapolis, to carry out interviews. Based on this work, she published this article. Her work was also published in Twin Cities Daily Planet and Star Tribune.

I am happy to see my daughters involving themselves in such worthy causes as today's fundraising event.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

African Career, Education & Resource (ACER) Fair

Today I participated in the  African Career, Education & Resource, Inc (ACER) fair at Park Center High School,  Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Service providers in such fields as health, employment, education, were there to showcase their services and share information on their programs.

I met people I know and new ones as well. The lady in the picture at the top here and on the left was my student at St. Olaf College about 13 years ago.

Some years ago, she read my book, Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences, and is an avid fan of it.

Other acquaintances who were there include Dr. Alvine Siaka, the coordinator of African Health Action and Rita Apaloo, coordinator of African Women Connect. Rita is also a long-term fan of Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences. As usual, we had much to talk about, concerning what we are trying to do with the African community in Minnesota.

Among the new people I met today is Iqbal Duale, Community Education Specialist for an organization called Planned Parenthood. We discovered that we have common interests and are involved in in cultural diversity issues. We plan to keep in touch.

It is heartening and gratifying to be with such people, whose commitment to social causes is unshakeable, and who are not deterred by problems and challenges encountered on the way.

A few days ago, I mentioned ACER, the organizer of today's fair. I did so in a blog post about a meeting of the board of the Afrifest Foundation. ACER and the Afrifest Foundation have decided to collaborate, and I decided to participate in today's fair partly to facilitate that collaboration. I am the chair of the Afrifest Foundation. I was delighted to meet the ACER volunteers and to note their welcoming and cheerful spirit.

I participated in today's fair under my business name, Africonexion. I had my table, seen on the left, where I displayed my books and other publications. I talked with people about the books and about my work as a cultural consultant dealing with Africans and Americans. As always happens, I met different kinds of people, including those who are working in institutions or organizations which require the kind of resources I offer, notably publications and presentations. I look forward to being in touch with these people, to learn from their experience and share my own experience.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Afrifest Foundation Board Meeting: April 2013

Today, the Afrifest Foundation Board met at the Center for Families, in Minneapolis. I was glad to be back in the fold, after travels in Africa.

As usual, we had a rich agenda. One of the decisions we made was to appoint key directors of the Foundation, whom I have featured on this page.

Here, on the left,  is Wycliff Chakua, who will continue as Treasurer and will serve as interim Secretary of the Foundation.

Here is Nathan White, the originator of Afrifest, who will continue to serve as Executive Director and President of Afrifest Foundation.

Here is Joseph L. Mbele, owner of this blog, who will continue in his role as Chairman of the Foundation.

We reviewed progress made towards our attainment of IRS 501c3, and it seems satisfactory.

We also took note of our partnership with ACER, the Duluth Festival, and Carifest. Everything is going well on that front. We reviewed emerging partnership opportunities, such as the possibility of working with event planner Rick Aguilar.

We welcomed Denise G. Butler, Outreach Coordinator of ACER, who wants to join the Afrifest Foundation Board.

We have come a long way, and we look forward to the future, with an increasing diversification of our portfolio of programs and activities, as well as solid partnerships with other organizations.