Pellissippi State hosts expert on religion, culture, politics in Africa

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The strife in Uganda is worlds away for most Americans, just something they hear about occasionally on the news. But when University of Tennessee professor Rosalind Hackett went to the East African country for the first time in 2004, she was totally rattled by the realities of the ongoing civil war.

Hackett, who is also the head of UT’s religious studies department, decided to do something to help. Since then she has spearheaded efforts to bring relief and healing to Uganda and has made many return trips.

She discusses her experiences in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and South Africa at Pellissippi State Community College on Monday, March 12. The community is invited to “Africa Matters: For Whom and Why,” 11:50 a.m.-12:45 p.m., in the Goins Building Auditorium at the Pellissippi Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The free presentation is one of Pellissippi State’s 2011-2012 Common Book events. Each school year a new Common Book is incorporated into classes in many disciplines to serve as a springboard for discussion and activities.

This year’s book choice is “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope,” by William Kamkwamba. As a teenager in Malawi, one of the world’s least developed countries, Kamkwamba used his ingenuity to build a windmill to bring electricity into his parents’ house.

Hackett says the same kind of resourcefulness William Kamkwamba applied to his situation is apparent in Uganda.

“Since the early 1990s, the Lord’s Republic Army in northern Uganda has abducted women and children,” said Hackett, “pillaging villages and homes, and stealing anyone and anything beneficial to ensure the success of the rebel movement against the Ugandan government.

“I don’t want to downplay Africa’s problems—underdevelopment, resource exploitation, poor government,” she said, “but at the same time I want to show that Africans themselves, sometimes working in partnership with people overseas, are generating creative, pragmatic responses to these challenges.”

Hackett lectures widely in the U.S. and around the world. She is frequently consulted by government, development, and media organizations on religious conflict in Nigeria and the war in northern Uganda.

For more information about this event, contact Pellissippi State’s English Department at (865) 694-6708. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or