News: Guest Speaker Mapouka Mexan M.D. Presents the Wonders of the Central African Republic
Posted March 6, 2020
Recently, the French 3014 - “Contemporary France” class had the opportunity to welcome Dr. Mapouka Mexan, hailing from the Central African Republic, for an hour-long talk concerning the French colonization of Central and West Africa. Mexan also discussed the repercussions of the European regime on the national identity of those countries. His visit gave the students the opportunity to ask questions about Dr. Mexan’s home country, and developed in to a time of cultural and linguistic exchange.
As a participant in the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program at Emory University, Dr. Mexan spoke about his vocation to become a doctor in order to help his community. Having completed his education at the University of Bangui in 2017, he worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross for two years, before coming to the US and specializing his post-doctoral studies in HIV/AIDS prevention.
To the students asking about the cultural identity of his native Central African Republic, he explained that the French influence is still present in institutions such as education, the administration, the economy and the voting system. But for him, the true identity of the nation lies in its language, Sangho, which brings together the people of “Oubangi Shari” (the indigenous name of the Central African Republic), more than any frontier ever could. Unlike the neighboring countries, who feature up to 80 dialects, as many as local tribes, all 13 ethnicities in the country speak Sangho, a sign of true belonging and an enduring symbol of kinship. He also evoked the design of the flag, with its stripes of blue for the river Congo, white for the cotton fields, green as the tropical forest and yellow for gold, traversed by a red strip symbolizing the blood of the men who have fought for their independence. It was an effort to bring all countries of Equatorial Africa together in a federation not unlike the United States’ and remains a tribute to the countries’ allyship and shared history.
Pressed on the subject, he talked about the civil war and political unrest of his country in the last decades, violent events he was lucky to escape, but assured us the state was currently stable regime of president-elect Faustin-Archange Touadéra.
Lastly, he described his home country as “merveilleux”, wonderful. A country that, despite its repeated crises and economic hardships, prides itself for honoring the African values of human warmth, hospitality and acceptance of differences. Asked about the status of mixed-race children in Central African Republic, a remainder of days under the French colonization he said: “Biracial people have always been welcome. It’s a stroke of luck: first, you get two nationalities, that can be useful. And you have roots in two different cultures, it’s extraordinary, like a bridge between nations.”
He left the class encouraging the students to use their French to travel, and to put the skills they learn at Tech to the greater good of less fortunate nations. “You’ll always be welcome in Central African Republic,” he promised.
For more information, contact Julie Hugonny, Visiting Assistant Professor of French, School of Modern Languages.
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