African i-Parliments Clinic for Law Students

February 12th, 2014 in Center News.

Last fall, 12 students participated in BU Law’s new Africa i-Parliament Clinic, a manifestation of the partnership between the school and the UN’s Economic Development Office in Nairobi (UN-DESA). Learn more about its director, Sean Kealy, and the goals of the project.


Why Belonging Matters: TED Fellow & BU Grad Student, Chelsea Shields Strayer

November 19th, 2013 in Center News.

How did human emotions evolve to help us survive? For the last decade, cultural anthropologist Chelsea Shields Strayer has studied the indigenous healing practices of the Ashante people of Ghana, discovering that emotional pain serves useful purposes — including the relief of physical pain. In this conversation with the TED Blog, she tells the fascinating story of how she struggled to free herself from her gender-biased Mormon culture to study another culture far away, in the process gathering important information about the physiological basis of the placebo effect, learning how social ostracization affects physical well-being, and getting a new perspective on the community she comes from.

More here.

PharmaCheck Wins National Award–simplifies testing & saves lives

September 27th, 2013 in Center News.

Get ready for a surprising number: 50 percent of medicines distributed in developing countries are either counterfeit or significantly substandard, and those fake and tainted products are responsible for countless medical complications and deaths. Muhammad Zaman, a College of Engineering associate professor of biomedical engineering, and postdoctoral student Darash Desai (ENG’12,’12) and graduate student Andrea Fernandes (SPH’10, GSM’16) are doing something about it. Together they have developed a PharmaCheck, a fast, portable, user-friendly detector for screening counterfeit and substandard medicines. To test a medication, a user places a pill into a small testing box that instantly reports the amount of active ingredients found in the pill. MORE

(Originally published in Bostonia)

Agriculture’s impact on malaria–PSAE’s research gaining attention

September 19th, 2013 in Center News.

By Caspar van Vark
Raising agricultural productivity is a priority in much of sub-Saharan Africa, where some 70% of people live in rural areas and rely on farming. But 90% of the estimated 660,000 global deaths caused by malaria in 2010 were also in Africa, and agricultural development can play a role in its transmission. How should this be reconciled to create a more “malaria smart” approach to agricultural growth?

One of the main links between malaria and agriculture is irrigation. It’s estimated that irrigation could boost agricultural productivity in Africa by 50% and many development organisations see irrigation as crucial to future development.

But irrigation can also be conducive to mosquitoes, which transmit malaria. Rice, for example, is a staple crop in sub-Saharan Africa and important for food security. It also relies on flooded paddies, which provide breeding sites for mosquitoes such as Anopheles gambiae, one of the principal vectors of malaria.

That can be problematic, but the irrigation-malaria link is complex and varied. For example, research has shown that even where the introduction of irrigation systems increases mosquito density in a given area, malaria transmission can actually decline.

More here.

“African Sources of Knowledge in Ajami Script” by Fallou Ngom

April 22nd, 2013 in Center News.

Find below a link to a lecture by Prof. Fallou Ngom, Director of the African Languages Program, given as part of their series Clark Forum for Contemporary Issues at Dickinson College.

African Sources of Knowledge in Ajami Script

Watch this: “Tare Muke” BUNAN Fundraiser

April 24th, 2012 in Center News.

Tare Muke is a campaign being led by the Boston University Niger Alumni Association (BUNAN). It is a fundraising effort for former employees of the BU Niger program who lost their jobs with the termination of the Boston University program in Niger. In the future BUNAN also hopes to find ways to foster more long term relationships with Niger, despite having lost this program. You can find out more and contribute (whether with your money or ideas) at

Prof. McCann Interviewed about African Cuisine on Chicago Public Radio’s Worldview

December 13th, 2011 in Center News.


Though Africa is often associated with famine, the continent has a rich food history that few outsiders understand. Today, as part of our occasional series Food Mondays, Worldview takes a look at the history of African food with James McCann, author of Stirring the Pot: A History of African Cuisine.
In his book, James uses African cuisine as a lens to explore the continent on a deep, cultural level. He tackles a whole array of foods — including New World imports that were integrated into Africa like maize, hot peppers, cassava and plantains, as well as modern dishes that have roots in Africa like jambalaya, Cuban rice and beans, and African American soul food. The influence of Africa’s food, he argues, can be felt in kitchens around the globe.