Duku Anokye, Ph.D., honors the central roles of women

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Akua Duku Anokye is an associate professor of Africana Language, Literature and Culture at ASU West. When she first arrived in Glendale, Arizona, in 1999 after having spent much of her life on the East Coast, she found the African American community was not only relatively small but also widely dispersed throughout the Valley. 

Creating a Sense of Community

Anokye realized she needed to make more of a local connection with other people of color, and together with some of her university colleagues, formed the Black History Month Committee. She also began hosting frequent gatherings at her home, offering opportunities to socialize and exchange ideas.

“We began to develop the community around the needs of the community,” Anokye said, “How we could address them, like identity, having a place to say, ‘This is home,’ having a place where they could think of being comfortable, being accepted, being able to vote.” 

A Tradition of Storytelling

When it comes to community building, Anokye considers the role of women as storytellers to have immeasurable value. She believes women have a natural ability to communicate about their lives in ways that are meaningful and enduring.  

Anokye recalls the stories her grandmother passed down about her family’s life, stories Anokye has shared with her children and grandchildren. But she also cautions that history and memory can be easily erased, and if we allow ourselves to forget where we’ve come from and who helped us get there, we will be unable to learn from those past experiences.

“This is what makes us human,” Anokye said. “This is what connects us. The fact that if you pull back far enough, you hear the same stories over and over, the different contexts, different ethnicities, different races, different locales, regions. But you hear this again, a story of life, this story of humanity that gets repeated time after time.” 

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