Photo courtesy of Meg Riggs

Photo courtesy of Meg Riggs

Everyday Life on the African Continent: Fun, Leisure and Expressivity               

Editors:  Kemi Balogun, Lisa Gilman, Melissa Graboyes, Habib Iddrisu

UPDATE: Information about symposium travel and accommodations now available below, or is in a single document here. Please don't forget that draft papers will be due to share with fellow contributors by February 15! We have put together a document with information about style and citations here. 

Symposium Agenda (downloadable as a word doc here)

Thursday, Feb 23

6-9 pm Dinner hosted by Habib Iddrisu at his home

Friday, Feb 24

Location: Browsing Room, Knight Library, University of Oregon

8:30-9 am: Check in, meet and greet, coffee and muffins

9-10 am: Welcome and introductions          

10: 15-11:45 am: Session 1 (2 concurrent sessions)

Group 1

Moderators: Kemi Balogun and Lisa Gilman


Joseph Osuolale Ayodokun (co-written with Abiola Victoria, Ayodokun): “Ekun-Iyawo: An African Bridal Shower in Yoruba Land” (Nigeria)

Lamba: "Funeral Swag: The Celebration of Death in Urban Zambia" (Zambia)

Nourse: “Nasreen’s Hosts an Aqiqa, and Invests in her Community” (Madagascar)

Youngstedt: “New Year's Eve in the Sahel” (Niger)

Group 2

Moderators: Melissa Graboyes and Habib Iddrisu


Bannikov: “Playing ‘War’ at Tank Park: Recreational Activities of Oranjemund's Children during Namibia's Struggle Era” (Namibia)

Mougoue: “’Where are all the Women who used to be Good Athletes in their School Days?’: Physical Activities and Gendered Leisure in Anglophone Cameroon in the 1960s and 1970s” (Cameroon)

Otieno: “Sport, Fandom and Multiplicities of Identities in Kenya: Case of Gor Mahia’s Green Army” (Kenya) 

11:45 am - 12:15 pm: Whole group debrief: themes, issues, and feedback

12:15-1:30 pm: Lunch and discussion

1:45 – 3:15 pm: Session 2 (2 concurrent sessions)

Group #3

Moderators: Melisa Graboyes and Kemi Balogun


Fenn: “Mobile Malawi and Everyday Handsets” (Malawi)

Bosire: “Everyday Life on the Continent: Kenya’s Urban Voices (Kenya)

Grace: “Finding Pleasure in a Broken World: Repair and Everyday Life in Tanzanian Garages” (Tanzania)

Group #4

Moderators: Habib Iddrisu and Lisa Gilman


Callaci: “Lovers and Fighters in the African Metropolis: Friendship, Fantasy and the Dar es Salaam pulp fiction publishing industry, 1970-1985” (Tanzania)

Van Wolpute: “Sex and Joking: The Hidden Pleasures of Everyday Life” (Namibia)

McCoy: “Leisure at the Edge of Legality: Cannabis in 20th Century Swaziland & South Africa” (South Africa/Swaziland)

3:15- 3:45: Whole group debrief: themes, issues, and feedback

4-5 pm: Group discussion about project, logistics, and questions

5-7 pm: Reception. Falling Sky Brewery. Erb Memorial Union (EMU), University of Oregon campus


Important information

·       Participants are welcome and encouraged to read drafts of the chapters of all symposium participants.

·       They are required to read the chapters of those in their assigned group

·       Participants are divided into 4 groups of 3-4 members

Session structure

·       Each session group will include 4 contributors and 2 editors

·       All members will have read drafts of the 4 members of the group

·       Each contributor will have 20 minutes for discussion of their chapter. The time will be structured as follows:

o   Presentation of chapter (7 mins)

o   Participants respond with questions and feedback

o   Editors facilitate discussion

Some themes to consider when reviewing drafts and participating in symposium:

·       What are the goals for this project (contributors’ perspectives in conversation with those the editors)?

·       How do individual chapters contribute to the goals for the project?

·       What themes are important for individual chapters?

·       How do the themes in various chapters interact to produce the whole?

·       How to balance presenting positive information about the continent in relationship to difficult issues that are relevant to chapter topics?


Symposium Information

The book editors will be hosting a companion symposium on the topic of “Fun, Leisure, and Expressivity in Africa” at the University of Oregon on February 24, 2017. Draft chapters will be pre-circulated, authors will receive feedback from the volume editors during the symposium. We anticipate this symposium being a key activity for establishing connections and building cohesiveness throughout the book.


·      Eugene has an airport (EUG), and it is easiest to fly in there. The airport is roughly 20 minutes by car from university-area hotels. If you choose to stay at the Phoenix Inn (recommended), they will pick you up for free if you tell them in advance when your flight is arriving! Taxis or OmniShuttle can also be used, but must be reserved in advance. Costs are approximately $25-$30 one way from the airport to the university.

·      It is possible to fly into Portland (PDX) but it is roughly 2.5 hours away by road, or 3 hrs+ by train. It is possible to travel from the PDX airport into downtown Portland via the Max and find a connecting train to Eugene via Amtrak or Bolt Bus. Both have daily trips to Eugene, but the schedules are limited. Also from Portland, it is possible to do an airporter service direct from PDX to Eugene, such as HUT Shuttle or City2City Shuttle.


·      We recommend staying at the Phoenix Inn which is less than a 10-minute walk away from the university. A block of rooms has been reserved at the university rate of $109+tax. Included in the price is a breakfast buffet, free wifi, and free airport pickup and drop off. When reserving your room, please tell them you are part of the “Everyday Life in Africa Conference” and you will also need to share your flight information because airport pickup and drop off must be reserved in advance. There are a combination of single bed and double bed rooms available, and conference participants interested in sharing a room should send an email to the full list of participants in order to coordinate.

·      Cheaper hotels are available on East Broadway Street, which is also in the university area but is a bit longer walk (20-25 minutes), and we have not reserved a block of rooms.

Contact Information

Phoenix Inn: 1-800-344-0131

Oregon Taxi:

OmniShuttle Eugene:

HUT Shuttle Portland-Eugene:

City2City Shuttle Portland-Eugene:

Amtrak Train:

Bolt Bus:

Project Description

This volume, edited by a multi-disciplinary group of scholars who work in different regions of Africa, will be a collection of essays focusing on forms of leisure and expressivity on the continent. Each short and descriptive essay, will be written in accessible prose and will focus on providing details about a cultural form, explaining the context(s) in which it occurs, and providing some analysis as to its significance. The book will be thematically organized, with multiple chapters on topics such as Fashion and Beauty, Sports and Games, Love and Dating, and Creative Arts. The volume targets an undergraduate audience with limited knowledge of the continent. The intent is for the volume to include essays from all regions of the continent, from rural and urban settings, about the present or the past, and about “popular” or “traditional” practices. This edited volume is under pre-completion contract with Ohio University Press, and draft chapters will be due by February 2017.

This project will contribute a critically needed text that exposes undergraduate students to the positive aspects of daily life on the continent. A particular focus will be upon the creative and dynamic ways that people in African contexts are using their leisure time, having fun, being creative, and engaging in forms of expressive culture. Much of the material available for undergraduate African Studies courses emphasizes the challenges facing the continent, focusing on war, poverty, corruption, disease, or human rights violations. These issues are real and deserve sustained attention. However, the narrow focus on “Africa’s problems” creates pedagogical problems. It can reinforce stereotypes students are already conversant with and misses an opportunity for students to consider the similarities and differences between their lives and those of their African counterparts. As those of us who have spent time on the continent know firsthand, challenging conditions do not preclude people from making music, falling in love, playing sports, participating in festivals, writing blogs, telling jokes, wearing expressive clothing, making videos, playing games, dancing, eating delicious food and finding pleasure in myriad other ways in their daily lives.

Project Timeline

·      September 30, 2016—Abstracts due

·      November 15, 2016—Notification of Acceptance & Notification of Funding Awards for Symposium 

·      February 15, 2017—Pre-circulation of Symposium Papers/ Chapter Drafts

·      February 23-24, 2017—Symposium at the University of Oregon

·      April 1, 2017—First Draft of Full Chapter Due to Editors for review

·      June 1, 2017—Comments back from Editors on Draft Chapters

·      August 1, 2017—Revised draft due to Editors

·      August 1-October 31, 2017—Editors work on finalizing manuscript

·      November 1, 2017—Submission to Ohio University Press

About the Editors

This project is being coordinated by four colleagues at the University of Oregon. Kemi Balogun is in Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies; Lisa Gilman is in English and Folklore; Melissa Graboyes is in History and the Honors College; and Habib Iddrisu is in Music and Dance. We all have inter-disciplinary research interests and work on different parts of the continent. We will be producing an introduction for the edited volume in addition to contributing content chapters.


For questions or additional information, and to submit abstracts, please contact: Lisa Gilman, lmgilman @