Cover Letter/Narrative Summary

Cover Letter and Narrative Summary

Dr. Mohamed Camara, Members of the APT Committee, and Reviewers:

Please accept this dossier in consideration for my promotion to the rank of Associate Professor in the Department of African Studies. I have submitted an electronic file of my dossier. I have also designed a website, which contains all of the materials included in my dossier, as well as additional materials to support my application for tenure and promotion.

In 2006, I received my doctorate of philosophy at Howard University (HU) in the area of African Studies. I earned my BA degree in Political Science from Johnson C. Smith University in 1998 and an MA in International Studies from American University in 2001. I joined HU as an Assistant Professor in fall 2015. Since my appointment, I have created and taught new courses and incorporated technology in different and innovative ways. I have also been research active, this has included publishing scholarship and applying for both internal and external funding. In the area of service, I have also been very active in the department and wider community. This has included serving on department committees, as well as on executive boards of academic and community associations. I am very proud to be a member of the core faculty of the Department of African Studies, the only one of its kind to offer an undergraduate major in African Studies in the United States. Excellence, leadership, service, and truth have guided my work at Howard University and in the Department.

After completing two years as an Assistant Professor in the Department of African Studies at Howard University (HU) and six years in the Pan African Studies Department at California State University (CSULA) where I was promoted with tenure (see Appendix 1), I have accumulated the service, skills, and accomplishments necessary for promotion at HU. I have received excellent student and peer evaluations, and possess a novel and multifaceted approach to teaching. I have published meaningful original research and enjoy evolving local, national, and evolving international prominence in the forms and expressions of African Hip Hop Culture upon African Migration to the West and cultural studies with an emphasis on popular culture, cultural representation, and social media. I have also been active in considerable service in the Department of African Studies, across campus, in the community, and my discipline. I believe that my accomplishments meet the requirements for promotion to to the rank of Associate Professor at Howard University, and hope to continue to serve the Department of African Studies and University community at that rank.

Teaching and Mentorship

I am currently directing the dissertations of four of our doctoral students in my Department and serve on the MA thesis and PhD dissertation committees of four additional graduate students.

MA or PhD Stage Student My Role
PhD Submitting to IRB Shannon Warren Adviser
PhD Submitting to IRB Danielle Gantt Hudgins Adviser
PhD Writing proposal Namakau Ombaba Adviser
PhD Writing proposal Verny Varela Adviser
PhD Submitting to IRB Ashley Lynch Committee member
PhD Submitted to IRB Camille Dantzler Committee member
MA Revising proposal Kamau Grimes Committee member

I have taught undergraduate and graduate courses, including two new courses that I developed. The first of these, Hip Hop and Popular Culture in Africa, targets undergraduate level; the other, African Immigrants in the United States is restricted to upperclassmen and graduate students. I am currently developing a course on Black Women and the Politics of Representation (see Appendix 10C for course proposal). I have taught Hip Hop and Popular Culture in Africa twice. Other courses that I have begun to teach include Social Media and Political Change in Africa (SMPCA) at the undergraduate level, Pan Africanism, at the graduate level. In SMPCA, I adjusted the curriculum by having students create social justice campaigns. I incorporated an Amnesty International template to guide the development of student-designed social justice campaigns. I used this template in creating campaigns when I was a Country Specialist for Uganda with Amnesty International. Students in the course also have opportunities to interact more with activists who are invited to speak to the class throughout the semester. My studies in African Political Thought allowed me to create a Pan Africanism course that maintains much of the foundations laid by Dr. Nyang, but incorporates my own theoretical and critical approaches to Pan Africanist ideologies and movements. Dr. Nyang is an internationally known and respected African Studies scholar. He and his work has definitely guided my approach to the course.


I am working to help establish the Department of African Studies at Howard University as a location for scholarship and research on hip hop culture in Africa. This includes applying for grant money that would allow us the resources to grow the department’s work on hip hop in Africa. I applied for an NEH grant for faculty at HBCUs to produce a series of podcasts on women in hip hop in West Africa. I am also working with Howard University’s Office of Research Development to apply for a Media Project Production grant from NEH. The proposed project would produce a series of video podcasts examining the themes of women and hip hop in Africa, and the question of language in African hip hop; questions that parallel similar questions that arose in African literature in the 1960s and 1970s. The grant application will be submitted in January. I am the project director, working with colleagues in the U.S., Tanzania, and South Africa.

My research agenda and scholarly activities Cultural Studies, with a special emphasis on Hip Hop Culture in Africa as a form of cultural representation, as well as hip hop culture’s intersections with social change, gender, and politics. My publications on hip hop in Africa all have focused on hip hop’s representation of various social and political issues. This has included hip hop as a tool of social commentary and the use of hip hop to challenge gender norms and construct African migrant experiences.

The paperback edition of the book I co-edited, Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati, was published in May 2016 by Lexington Press. My book Hip Hop and Representation in Africa: Prophets of the City and Dustyfoot Philosophers, is being published in the winter by Ohio University Press this winter. The book will be the first solo-authored book that looks at hip hop music and culture across the continent. The book ties together my academic research on both hip hop and migration, with images I have taken, to present a discussion on hip hop as a form of cultural representation in Africa. We are currently building a website for the book, which will be used to provide supplemental materials, especially for faculty using the book in the classroom.

My creative works have been in the area of photography. I have been documenting hip hop culture in Africa for over 10 years. My work will be featured in the upcoming book Mfon: Women Photographers in the African Diaspora. In addition, I have a blog and podcast titled the African Hip Hop Blog & Podcast. The project began as a small platform for students to post their research on hip hop in Africa. The project grew from just over 4,000 unique visits a year, to almost 20,000 unique visitors in 2016. Since 2016, the site has averaged 2,000 unique visitors a month. The podcast is downloaded in several countries, with the top countries/regions for downloads being the European Union, South Africa, England, Ghana, Tanzania, and the U.S. The podcast has become a platform to discuss hip hop studies in Africa in a unique way, involving our student contributors in broader debates about hip hop’s social commentary in Africa.

The trajectory of my research and scholarship provide evidence of an extensive command of my fields of study. My scholarship on hip hop culture in Africa has made original contributions to the field, and has been recognized in several ways. This includes being elected to editorial boards, invitations to present my research and work at national and international conferences and symposia, and service on peer review committees.

Two additional indicators of scholarly impact include:

  1. The use of my text (Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa) in courses taught at various universities. The diversity of courses adopting the text show the interdisciplinary nature of the research. Some of those courses include:
  • “Applying Music, Art & Practice”, a graduate level course in the Department of Music at the University of Virginia
  • “Global Hip Hop Cultures”, an undergraduate course in the Department of History and International Relations” at Trinity College
  • “HipHop, Youth Culture, and Politics in Senegal”, an undergraduate course in the Department of African Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison
  1. Citation of my work in scholarly publications. According to Google Scholar, my research on hip hop has been cited in more than 25 scholarly publications, while my work on African migration has been cited in more than 65 scholarly publications.

Since I began to publish my research on hip hop in Africa in 2012, I have published several peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and full manuscripts on the topic. I have exhibited my creative works and photography in exhibits and publications. I launched the podcast with the goal of taking a scholarly approach to conversations around hip hop in Africa. Among African Studies podcasters, ours has been recognized as a contribution to discourse around hip hop in Africa. I have demonstrated a commitment and an ability to produce relevant scholarship in the field. I have also demonstrated professional recognition of my research contribution by peers in the field.


In addition to my teaching responsibilities and scholarly activities, I have taken service very seriously. I am currently the Director of the Undergraduate Program. This includes remaining in contact with our students, and coming up with initiatives to actively recruit majors and help grow enrollment in our courses. I have also worked closely with the advising center so that students can be informed of general course requirements that may be fulfilled by taking African Studies courses.

Part of my responsibilities as Director of the Undergraduate Program includes keeping up with enrollment in our courses each semester, advising majors on their course schedules, addressing the concerns of students enrolled in our courses, and advising students wishing to have study abroad courses accepted as replacements for select African Studies courses.

Much of my service in the community is detailed in my dossier, which includes work with social justice organizations and with immigrant rights groups. I also serve on the boards of the College Language Association Journal, the Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists (ASBS), and Africa Action, an African advocacy group in Washington, DC. As a board member with ASBS, I just completed my term as the organization’s President. Since coming to Howard University I have also served as a reviewer for several journals and grant making institutions.

My dossier shows my commitment as both an educator and a scholar. I have a strong interest in seeing our program grow. I am also interested in further developing my work in African Hip Hop studies, with a goal of helping to center the Department of African Studies at Howard University as a location for U.S.-based studies on Hip Hop in Africa. I hope that the committee finds that my dossier and supporting materials effectively support my application for promotion to the rank of Associate Professor.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Msia Kibona Clark, PhD

Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies

Department of African Studies

Howard University