SOAS University of London

Nesta Kuziwa Hatendi

Although I came from Africa, it was very clear that I needed to study and understand Africa as a diverse continent and not perpetuate the misconception which still exists of treating Africa as a country.

Why did you choose SOAS as the place to study?
I had always had an interest in the pre and post-colonial history of Africa.

Part of my early schooling was in the UK, so it made sense to enrol at SOAS which was, and still is, one of the great centres of learning about Africa, outside Africa.

What did you enjoy about the course?
We were small classes, had individual attention and used to get some of our lectures on tape, so we could listen at leisure - a novelty at that time. I also felt that I was part of African history in the making, as it was being documented for posterity.

What would be a seminal moment, event, achievement or person during your time at the School?
The influence and presence of Dr Roland Oliver left a great impression on me. As a young student, one could sense from his research and writings that the recording of African history was still very much work in progress. He spearheaded its documentation as a distinct discipline and field of study, beyond the perspectives of Europeans in Africa.

‘SOAS in the World’ and ‘The World at SOAS’ are two themes of the centenary. Can you share your thoughts on these topics?  
SOAS is synonymous with diversity, whether it is the lecturers, students or friends of the centre of learning. Although I came from Africa, it was very clear that I needed to study and understand Africa as a diverse continent and not perpetuate the misconception which still exists of treating Africa as a country.

Aside from interacting with others from many parts of the world, I was able to meet fellow Africans and appreciate their cultures and languages through study and social events.

At SOAS, I had the opportunity to understand African history in juxtaposition with already recorded and documented World and European histories.

What three words symbolise the School's next 100 years?
Dynamic, eclectic, influential.