Update from Laura (Davidson) Tanna, received 10 April 2015
I wanted so much to attend the alumni weekend, especially to see my former professors Phil Noss, Edris Makward and Harold Scheub, but also to let students know that their degree in African Languages and Literature need not mean only teaching in that field but might also lead to other equally exciting opportunities in life. Just as I had been awarded a fellowship to do my doctoral research in Kiganda and KiSwahili oral narratives in East Africa, Idi Amin made it impossible to remain in Uganda and research with a tape recorder was so suspect as to be a death sentence. My husband received a letter stating that we would be sent to a “camp” in the north of Uganda if we chose to stay. The Dept of African Lang and Lit was so understanding. They agreed to allow me to use the award to do my doctoral research instead on Jamaican oral narratives of African heritage . My doctoral dissertation under Dr. Scheub, Neil Skinner and Frederic Cassidy was published by the Institute of Jamaica Publications as Jamaican Folk Tales and Oral Histories and has become a classic in the field. I’ve remained working in Jamaica even though the University of the West Indies had no department of African Studies, much less African Literature, at the time I finished in the 80’s. I’m attaching some information [linked below] about what I have been able to do instead so that your students, or the alumni newsletter might understand what a great education I received from the Department of African Languages and Literature and how I’ve used that education in ways other than teaching.