ForeverMissed
his Life

Brief Description of Most Recent Activities

Academic Achievements:

  • Professor of Anthropology for over 35 years
  • Fellow Ph.D graduating student in Sociology
  • Fellow Ph.D graduating student in Psychology

His Common words:

Anthropology, psychology, education, sociology, multiculturalism, teaching teachers, dogmatics, globalization, philosophy, theology,etc.

His Character:

  • Simple
  • Loving 
  • Humble, Kind
  • Exaggerated patience, Faithful
  • Gentle,  Sacrificial
  • Disciplined,  Time conscious
  • God Fearing 
  • Fatherly
  • Humorous,  Generous
  • Resilient

His Professional Gifts and Talents:

  • Teacher- Writer
  • Story Teller- Analyst
  • Educator- Philanthropist
  • Entertainer- Guitar player
  • Motivational  - Public Speaker

Some of his life Inspirations:

  • Post death experience
  • Survived several deadly accidents
  • Several Schools of Thought

Some of his unique gestures and features:

  • Feeds birds every morning for 30 minutes before 7AM at the University parking lot before morning lectures. Always on time to University to teach students
  • Dresses most of the time in Mankon (African) traditional outfits and clothing
  • Likes standing for hours
  • Will drink from any student’s cup
  • Drinks coke often in class using his traditional horn
  • Always prays/meditates at the corner of the amphitheater stage before presenting his lecture to students
  • Will wait in lines for hours only to ridicule himself with technological ignorance (humor)
  • Mostly Vegan
  • Never misses Friday and Sunday masses in Church
  • Always keeps to his promises and word
  • Always searching for his eyeglasses (he has about 8 pairs)
  • Often creates compound words and slangs
  • Says that adults are controlled by toys
  • Says that the first institution that has to be built is the family

Some of His Publications:

  • The Kingdom of Mankon
  • The History of Cameroon
  • Seventy Sweet Fire-Side Stories (African folklore and tales)
  • Globalization
  • Parent’s guide to raising God-fearing Children (co-author)
  • Youths Rising Above 23 Giants (co-author)

THE CHRISTMAS LETTER , "A letter you must read from Dr. Lawrence C. Awasom to her Mother"

THE CHRISTMAS LETTER – A MEMORANDUM

Sweet Fireside African Folktales is written in honor of my dear mother, Mama Neh Taboh, in memory of which I’m attaching this personal letter which I wrote to her in 1997. The letter was written to serve the purpose of an international competition for “The best letter to a Mom” on Mother’s Day 1997 in New York in the U.S. A. The letter won “First Price” with a cash reward of 4000 dollars. The letter is published here exactly the way it was tendered in for the 1997 Mother’s Day Competition so that the reader can see it from the perspective of its 1997 evaluators. Attached to it is a critique from Dr. Martha Ngwainbi of Kenturky State University in the U.S.A.

A CHRISMAS LETTER TO MY MOTHER, MAMA NEH TABOH

Dear Mom,

Just thinking of you this Christmas season and feeling that I should send you a letter and a holiday greeting card. It’s a long time since you departed from this world, and I always crave to see you, speak to you, touch you, and hug you. It has been difficult for me to forget the warm touch, sweet smiles, great kisses, illuminating stare, and invigorating presence that you alone can offer me.

This year (1997) makes it thirty five years since you left me. However, still fresh in my mind are the happy and sad moments that we shared together when you were with me in this world. I remember very well the sweet fire-side stories you told me late every evening before we went to bed, especially the stories of the “Slow But Intelligent Tortoise” and the “Fast But Dumb Hare.” It still amazes me why in one of your fairy tales Filele, the Spider, ate up Ngangfo, the elephant, even though Ngangfo is physiologically bigger than Filele. I continue to punctuate my daily activities with the great song “Fi-le-le, Fi-le-le, pfuri-ngangfo, ngangfo pfuri fi-le-le” which we sang together during folkloric time shortly before going to bed. However, each time I sing “filele,” I always end up crying because your high-pitch shrilling voice is not there to weave in the chorus and give the song its vibrant, gyrative, empowering melody. I also have not forgotten the other interesting songs we used to sing together on our maize, yam, and groundnut farms at Ngoh, Tohbi, Tricorner, Njumako and Azom Ngwana, whose rythms you always sustained with the shoveling of your hoe. I still conceptualize, in my minds eyes, those big, howling and yelling “ancabangs” (monkeys) at Azom-Chi-Nyong which used to scare the hell out of us whenever we flung stones at them to prevent them from smuggling the fresh grain (corn and groundnuts) on our farms. From time to time I dream of you and remember the joyous smile that radiated from your face as you counted splinters of broom sticks in the dim light of the fire-side trying to assist me do my Arithmetic homework, even though you did not know how to read, speak, or write English. I still value the consolation you gave me whenever I accidentally fell down and broke our calabash of water, or when I was depressed because of poor academic performance in school.

There is no way that I can ever forget how you always left home very early at cockcrow every morning and only came back home late after sunset in the evening, struggling to enable me and my sisters have what to eat or wear. Mom, you were a great mother, a great teacher, a great friend, a great provider, and I miss you very much.

Mom, I remember all what happened on that hot November day when you had eternal rest. You were heavily pregnant at the time, and the morning was cold. But you got up early, gave I and my brothers and sisters breakfast, and hurriedly left for Saint Patrick’s Catholic Mission to lay bricks for the new school building. Then, I was in Class 2, and during breaktime I hurried to the brick site to meet you. When I came there, you informed me that you were not feeling well and I suggested that you should go home. I still remember very well that when I came back from school that afternoon events all turned against me. At about 4.00 p.m. there was a stampede and much commotion at home, and I heard you cry as you had never done before. Then I ran to the crowd of adults standing behind our one room multi-purpose, pointed-roof residence to see what was the problem, and it appeared to me that my father and step-mothers were all pressing down on you. “Let go my mother,” I threatened, with my eyes full of tears. But I was politely told by my other mothers to go back to the front yard and play with my brothers and sisters because you were in the process of “buying” (delivering) a new baby. Mom, I lack words to effectively describe the fear that took hold of me when I soon noticed a sad crowd with drooped heads carrying you to Chief Ndefru’s British-made black Austin car in an effort to take you to the hospital. I knew that something was seriously getting wrong. I remember very clearly that when you heard me screaming and assaulting the Chief’s car at the time you were being put in it, you painfully stretched forth your hand and beckoned at me to come close to you; and then with a lot of strain you raised your head and whispered in my ear to stop crying because you were going to bring me a new baby from the hospital.

However, mom, you lied to me. Neither you nor the baby did come back home to me as you had promised. The only people who came back home from the hospital were my father and stepmothers. “Where are my mother and the baby?,” I anxiously interrogated when I realized that you were not among the home-comers. And Mom, they told me just what I did not want to hear. “Alamaso, your mother is dead,” sobbed “Big Mama,” my father’s first wife (popularly known to the children as “Nimo Ndahting” which means “Mama of the Lower House” since her house was located on the lowest section of the slope on which our compound was built). This bad news delivered to me by “Nimo Ndahting” had the effect of a bomb thrown on me. I was totally devastated by it and could feel the blood draining out of me. “My mother is what?,” I inquired as I collapsed onto the ground sweating, trembling, and urinating all at once. “Dead,” Big-Mama replied, lifting me up and giving me a most affectionate hug. Mom, the more Big Mama tried to comfort me, the more painful the situation became. Mom, after Big Mama told me this, everything I lived for seemed to have gone down the drain. My life became void and totally changed, and since then nothing has ever been the same again.

Mom, the baby you delivered was a girl named Nwofor, meaning “the chief’s person” since she was delivered with the help of the chief’s car. Due to your eternal rest, Nwofor was taken to the orphanage at Shisong, Nsaw, located about a hundred miles away from Mankon, our village. At the time all of this was happening I was too young to fully comprehend and follow up the problem. When I became an adult and started earning my own money, I went to Shisong in search of my sister. There, the reverend sisters blamed me for having wasted a lot of time before coming to check up on the baby. As if your departure was not sufficient stress for me to bear, the holy sisters informed me that a few years back Nwofor died in her own turn. This was hard to bear and I collapsed in total shock and confusion. “Lord, thy will be done. O God, thy will be done,” I lamented.

Up till today I have never believed what the orphanage sisters told me, more especially because they failed to show me credible and reliable documentation on the death of the child when I insisted that they should produce such evidence. I have the strong feeling that my sister, Nwofor, is still alive somewhere, and I continue to search for her wherever I go. I have on three occasions in the streets, stopped and asked one girl or the other who resembles my two other sisters if her name is Nwofor Awasom by any chance. However, I’ve never had the good luck of receiving the reply “Certainly, that’s my name.” I am hoping that some day my investigation of this matter is going to be over, and I’ll either be with my sister or officially celebrate her funeral and put the problem behind me.

Mom, after your burial and funeral, life was hard for me. It was emotionally very devastating for me to see the old black wooden stool on which you used to sit standing by the fire side looking very empty, without its legitimate owner. Tears oozed out of my eyes each time I looked at that pile of granite stones on the mound of earth which symbolized your grave. It was difficult and frightful for me to cross the swollen, flooded and raging Juajua River in the Rainy Season alone without someone to reach out a walking stick to me to hold for guidance as you had always done. It was extremely tough sitting in class and thinking that when I go home after school there will be no Mom for me to hug and no food to eat. I could not help breaking down on my way back from school when, as I approached the compound, I saw tall pillars of smoke oozing out of the thatched pointed roofs of my step mother’s houses (an indication of motherhood and life) meanwhile on the roof of our own house there was a stillness punctuated occasionally by birds singing, nesting and celebrating its unusual calmness. Out in the fields, things proved worse. Fresh weeds and wild squirrels were invading, destroying and organizing merry-go-rounds on our farms when on neighboring farms weeds and wild squirrels were totally banished by the constant presence of their owners. Initially, I declared a war against those ugly weeds and obnoxious destructive happy squirrels, cutting down as many weeds as I could and flinging deadly stones against any damned squirrels that came my way. But I soon gave up the fight because of other pressing obligations such as: my education, care for my junior brothers (Achu Mukom and Nde Abanda) and small sister (Bi Ntsang), and so on. Small Abanda, my youngest brother, always made things worse by constantly crying and asking me where Mom had gone to and when she is going to come back home. Generally, I ignored answering his numerous questions, and sometimes they were so many that I could not help crying. Meanwhile in school, some of my friends made fun of me for sometimes coming in late, for not always making the good grade, or for sometimes crying “unnecessarily” in class.

However, Mom, God always takes care of the needy. Nimo Lum Ndzang (my father’s first wife, whom we called “Big Mama” or “Nimo Ndahting”) very competently rescued the situation. She took me and my brothers and sisters into her residence and provided us with more than everything that we needed for survival. Her untiring efforts to help us forget about your death and her total acceptance of us brought fresh meaning into our lives. There was nothing “Big Mama” did not do to keep us happy: she gave us the very best of whatever came out of her farms (maize, cocoyams, pumpkins, groudnuts, and so on) and she toiled hard to provide us with all our school prerequisites. Despite her chronic asthmatic attacks she sat up late after super every night and told us fascinating fireside stories in order to raise our spirits before we went to bed. Even though her voice was hoarse and cracked, she never relinquished efforts to sing and comically dance a ridiculous song she called “Maneh-Tsang” in an effort to make us laugh and forget about your untimely departure. “Big Mama” is still that way even today. She is the best foster mother that ever was, that is, and that ever shall be. Her attitude towards us these days continues to be unwaveringly exceptional and most loving. She is just the embodiment of a good human being and I pray that God gives her a very long life so that I can have the opportunity to adequately express my appreciation for her excellence.

Mom, my two brothers Achu Mukom and Nde Abanda, and two sisters Ndia Kiko Na and Bi Ntsang are all doing great. One of Ndia Kiko Na’s daughters has grown up into a tall pretty woman, just like you. The latter was named Neh Taboh, after your name. It used to be that at anytime I needed your comfort, I hurried to small Neh Taboh for a hug and a kiss. However, small Taboh’s hugs and kisses always appeared fake and never ever gave me the satisfaction I derived from yours. My wife delivered a female child whom I also wanted to name “Neh Taboh” in order to have your blueprint under my roof. But I could not do so since the traditional laws of our people allow the bride’s family rather than the bridegroom’s family to name the first child of every marriage. Consequently, my mother-in-law named my daughter Akwa-nwi after a deceased relative from her family. However, even though I call my daughter “Akwa-nwi,” I continue to relate to her much more from a “tabohly” perspective than from an “akwaly” perspective. Mom, our relationship was so meaningful to me that even today I continue to look for your image in every woman that I come across. This sometimes makes it very hard for me to fully appreciate any woman who is not like you. Mom, you were really very special and I miss you very much.

Mom, on December 14, 1990, I had a serious accident on Southwest Freeway in the City of Houston, and passed out into a life-threatening coma which lasted up till January 26, 1991. This situation caused popular schizophrenia among relatives and friends in the U.S., Europe and Africa, and to redress the problem, the former bombarded the higher forces of nature with prayers and church services. However, mom, what people were seeing as a coma was, for me, a marvellous situation. The coma experience was really a thrilling and most joyous dream during which I was with you and grandpa (Tan Chialam) in the hereafter and we were doing a lot of nice things in common. It was very nice spending time being hugged by you and grandpa whom I’m told died on the night that I was born. You remember what you told me about grandpa’s death when I was still in primary school? You told me that when grandpa Chialam was very sick and was about to die you were standing by his bedside and crying, and that when he saw you crying he simply raised his right hand and placed it on your stomach and said, “Taboh, wipe your eyes and do not cry for I am only going on a short trip and will soon be back through you. This child you are carrying in your belly is me, for he will be a male when he is born.” Mom, I really felt sad and disappointed when I recovered from the false consciousness of that enjoyable and empowering coma drama only to realize that you and grandpa were not really with me in this world after all. Be informed that even though you and grandpa varnished from me for the second when I recovered from the coma experience, I am anxiously looking forward to the day when I shall have a more permanent coma and rejoin the two of you right there in the hereafter again.

Mom, thanks very much for leaving us with such a tremendous legacy of love, compassion, wisdom, faith and industry. Your constant advice to us was: “Children, always be nice,” “Trust in God,” and “Never you give up.” After your departure, I continued to live steadfast in accordance with your philosophy, always trying to be the best of myself, never giving up, and working as hard as I could. Mom, today I like you to know that I have never on any occasion felt let down by your words of wisdom. They were what successfully took me through primary school, secondary school, high school and college. Up till today, your philosophy is still clearly seen in much of what I think, say and do.

Mom, thank you so very much for everything that I am. I want you to know that I still love you dearly and I’m very proud to be your son. I praise God for giving me such a wonderful mother like you. I really miss you very much for you are the best thing that I ever had. But, I know, that it will not be long before I’m with you. Every day, as I go about discharging my daily chores, while periodically chanting “Fi-le-le, Fi-le-le, pfuri-ngangfo, ngangfo pfuri fe-le-le,” one thing alone do I wish to do, to sit on your grave, ruminate about you, and kiss that sweet mound of earth which houses your spirit.

Mom, accept my sincere greetings, and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in advance. Please, keep in touch, and let me dream of you every single night I go to bed. Bye Mom.

Love Forever,

Chi Alamaso Bangie Bin Ntahbeng; Chi Mukoh; Tan Atuako.

Done in Houston this cold frosty winter day of December 15, 1997.

P/S

Mom, I just came back from a U.S. Post Office to mail a bunch of Christmas greeting cards to friends and relatives. There, the line was long and customers waited impatiently to be served. When it was my own turn for service, I walked up and gave the postmaster a pile of letters that I had to dispatch. On flashing through the letters, he discovered one of them (your letter) addressed to someone in the hereafter. I had mistakenly included your letter with the other letters I was about to mail to people here on earth.

“Sir, where is this letter going to?,” the Post Master asked me.

“To my mother in the hereafter,” I replied. “Please, kindly give it back to me; it found itself among the rest of the letters purely by error,” I continued.

However, Mom, the postmaster was not patient with me. His reply to me was as follows:

“Sir, are you out of your mind? Where do you come from? Don’t you know that this Post Office only serves life human beings and not ghosts? Sir, our technology does not yet permit us to send letters to hell. Please, try another Post Office.”

On hearing him utter the above-mentioned words, I replied as follows:

“Sir, excuse me, my mother is in HEAVEN, and please, you better stop thinking that the hereafter in this case is synonymous to hell.”

The Post Master smiled, gave your letter back to me, and dropped the rest of the letters I had given him in the dispatch box. Some customers waiting on the line heard what he had told me and laughed, others frowned at him. I simply walked out of the Post Office and sadly walked away, feeling ashamed at my mistake.

So Mom, how am I going to send you your letter now that I am in the U.S.? Back home in Africa, I would have kept it for you in the ancestral shrine or placed it on your grave. The U.S. industrial society does not have ancestral shrines in which the living and the living-dead can have mutual interaction; so what am I going to do? I guess for now, I’m going to file it until I can find some means of dispatching it to you. Thanks Mom.

Yours forever,

Alamaso, Mukoh, Atuako.

CRITICAL OR APPRAISALS OF THE “CHRISTMAS LETTER TO MAMA NEH TABOH” BY DR. MARTHA NWAINMBI (PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH LITERATURE, KENTURKY STATE UNIVERSITY, 2002)

Dr. Awasom’s “Letter” begins quite colloquially; a merry outburst of filial devotion. But very unsuspectingly, he not only takes us back in time, but we watch him actually bridging a gap between temporality and infinitude, and in doing so, he effectively carries the past into the present through graphic reminiscences.

The live wire of the “Letter” is the profound tug of emotions and an almost mystic attachment to his mother, which surfaces in the recurrent: “It has been difficult for me to forget . . “, “There is no way I can forget . . .”, “I can still conceptualize . . .”. These pent-up feelings are made even more indelible because they are compounded by a fond nostalgia for the good old haunts of childhood that had become an inextricable portion of the author’s make-up. The rural flavor of the maize, yam and groundnut farms, the songs to ease labor on the farms, ‘acabangs’, and the settings, Ngoh, Tohbi, Tricorner, etc., are for him undying emblems of love and dependability. The real reason these settings take up such a remarkable splendour is because they were embraced in childhood days, and so in Freudian terms, Awasom is in part, actually journeying into the blissful innocence and purity of childhood - a form of Romantic escapism.

But then comes the bigger question - the vexing issue that swings on the hinges of the meaninglessness of life: the sudden death of Mama Neh Taboh, that leaves a gaping wound, an unfilled vacuum in the author’s heart. His vivid citing of such vestiges as his mother’s “old black wooden stool” only goes to deepen the pangs of loss. His struggle with weeds, squirrels and “acabangs” on his mother’s farm after her tragic death reveals the profound impact of his mother’s death on him, and his great determination to offset the misfortune.

But the tragedy is not yet ended as his beloved sister Nwofor cannot be traced. He is forced to navigate through these stormy whirlwinds, but with quite a fascinating doggedness of spirit, he settled the matter as follows: “I am hoping that some day my investigation of this matter is going to be over, and I’ll either be with my sister or officially celebrate her funeral and put the problem behind me (3). Awasom’s investigation is one that fits into the broader picture of man’s untiring inquisition into the intensely foggy circumstances of life, the fog that remains undispelled, and the mysteries that remain unresolved.

All is not so lost, as from the ashes of this pain arise some flicker of hope; some joy in Nimo Lum Ndzang. She assuages the pain, and thus becomes the symbol of the unity and completion of life’s contraries. The coma experience Awasom is part of in 1990 triggers further issues in the “Letter”. During the coma, he meets his mother again! The umbilical link between them seems inseparable; it is an almost oedipal situation. In the entire tone of the “Letter”, the curious thing is this intimate and direct communication between the empirical and the ethereal realms. Is it spiritualism? Can this communication be invoked at will? The author reveals to us that the propitious ground for this is ancestral shrines. Indeed, the tragi-comic verbal exchange between him and the baffled Post Master in the appendage of the “Letter” shows that there are special cites for ancestral and spiritual rituals. Reincarnation, as a belief system mentioned by the letter is an interesting point of concern, as the author himself is, it seems, a reincarnated existence of his grandfather.

Looking at the “Letter”, can we say that Awasom is a celebrated envoy in and out of time? Can we also conclude that Awasom is a reincarnation of Shakespeare of England pushed into our age? I sincerely congratulate Dr. Awasom for a marvelous piece of work.

Childhood & Career Summary

From Longcha.

Dr. Lawrence, son of Awasom Chialam and mama Nehtabo, was born at Ntambeng in the 50s. He began his studies in Saint Patrick's primary school Ntambeng. After graduation he attended Saint Bede's college Ashing, Kom. From there he attended CCAST Bambili. While at CCAST he developed a mindset of becoming a Professional teacher. With that ambition he attended the teacher training college in Bambui. 

After graduation he taught in Santa and Sacred Heart college Mankon before he left for the University of Yaounde where he graduated with a Bachelor and Master's degrees in history. He was a celebrated writer of European history. His books were used in secondary schools to prepare students for GCE  ordinary and advance levels. 
While in the United states he studied in the University of Houston and Rice university where  he obtained his Doctorate. Later he taught cultural anthropology at the University of Houston. As a professor he wrote articles that featured in international magazines. He won several international awards in the field of anthropology. Before his death he had achieved his dream of becoming a renounced teacher of international repute. 
He loved culture and promoted the family juju dance called "Akam". Besides, he was an Akam dancer and had a gift of playing the xylophones. He leaves behind a wife, three children (Elvis, Amanda and Adrian), three grandchildren (Nyla, Brice and Elvis Chi), and many brothers, sisters, cousins and nephews to mourn him. It is a big loss to the family, Cameroon, academia, and the international community. 
May his soul live in perfect peace.

In His Own Words

PROFESSIONAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DR. LAWRENCE AWASOM


INTRODUCTION

Other Names

Dr. Awasom is popularly known by his friends and students as Dr. Awesome, Dr. Our Son and Dr. A.

Place of Birth

He was born and raised in Ma-nkon (Big-Tail) tribe, one of the biggest chiefdoms of the Bamenda Grass Fields in Cameroon, a nation that is presently torn apart by a neck tom neck colonial war of independence between British Cameroonians and French Cameroonians.

Tribal Name

- Dr. Awasom is a respected elder and royal dignitary in his village where he is known as “Tan, Alamaso Bangie Bin Ntahbeng,” meaning “The Old Man, who is Husband of the Rainy Hill Women.”

HIS ACADEMIC CREDENTIALS

Dr. Awasom is a holder of the following academic credentials:

1. Bachelor of Arts, Honors, (Undergraduate degree in History from Universite de Yaounde (Cameroon),

2. La Maitrise en Histoire (Post graduate Degree in History from Universitaire de Yaounde, Cameroon.

3. Master of Arts, Anthropology (From the University of Houston (Texas), and

4. Doctorate Degree, Anthropology of Education (From the University of Houston (Texas).

DURATION OF SERVICE WITH HOUSTON COMMUNITY COLLEGE

- Dr. Awasom was first hired as Full Time Cultural Anthropology instructor in HCC in 1990, the same year he was hired as Adjunct Instructor of the same discipline in UHD.

- However, since then, he has taught not only Cultural Anthropology but also Physical Anthropology, Archaeology, Sociology, Psychology, Multicultural Education and Philosophy in both. or one or the other of the two school systems.

- This means that Dr. Awasom has been in the two school systems for about 27 years.

INITIAL MOTIVATION FOR STUDIES IN AMERICA

I was first motivated to America for studies as far back as the late 1970s early 80s by the following people:

Mr. Johnson, Papa Awasom, my father, and Papa Jankah, my uncle.

- Mr Johnson, my undergraduate history professor, and an American who came to Cameroon under the auspices of the American Peace Corps Program, always told me “Lawrence, you are a very smart student; you better think about going to the U.S. to pursue a graduate degree.”

- Papa Awasom, my Father, repeatedly told me about the Human Trade which had drained so many men from Mankon Village to America, leaving behind lots of beautiful women who had no men to marry. “It is because of this reason that I got married to 9 of your mothers,” said my father. This made me anxious to go to America to see where African slaves ended.

- Third, Papa Jankah, told me that the reason why Americans have so much money but no happiness is because of their unstoppable greed for knowledge and adventure.

- This was when the U.S. first landed a man on the moon (Neil Armstrong). “As opposed to Americans, we in this village have the happiness but not the money,” said Papa Jankah. “Americans must know that if God wanted them to have anything to do with the moon, he would have created the moon very close to America,” he contunued.

- I was curious to go to the U.S. and see if truly Americans have money but no happiness. Interestingly, when I finally came to America, I realized that my uncle was totally wrong in his view of Americans because I saw that Americans have not only money but happiness too.

MY GREATEST MENTORS IN THE DISCIPLINE OF ANTHROPOLOGY

A: Dr. Margaret Mead:

One of my greatest mentor in Anthropology is Margaret Mead, a leading 20th century Scholar of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnography.

- My interest and love for Margaret Mead stems from her strong and progressivist personality.

- Born in 1901, in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, Mead earned:

- a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Saint Bernard’s College New York, and

- M.A. and PhD Degrees in Columbia University, New York, where she and Dr. Ruth Benedict studied Anthropology together under the iconic Dr. Franz Boas, considered the Father of American Anthropology.

- Mead, in the 1960s and 70s, she featured regularly in U.S. public television advising the American public on a wide variety of the thorny issues of her days (such as climate change and globalization),

- She was staunch leader of the Feminist Movement,

- A focused woman who was good at setting goals and actualizing them,

- Curator of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC,

- A reputed ethnographer who studied the Samoans of the Southern Pacific Ocean, and

- The author of several anthropological ethnographies, some of which are:

Coming of Age in Samoa”,

Growing Up in New Guinea”, and

Male and Female

- Additionally, she was the receiver of a posthumous Presidential Medal of Honor from President Jimmy Carter for her great works. The award was received by her daughter Mary Catherine (who was herself an anthropologist) after her mother’s death.

- Mead believed that “anthropologists face the critical need of preserving not only themselves, but also their children, their nation, and the world from the calamity of a possible destruction by climate change.”

B: Dr. Louis Leakey: logy

Dr Louis Leakey(1903 – 1972), a famous Kenyan born paleontologist whose research, and those of:

- his wife Mary Leakey,

- his son Charles Leakey, and

- his daughter-in-law Meave Leakey

- on Lower and Middle Paleolithic Age hominid fossils in the Olduvai Gorge of East Africa

- form the bedrock of the discipline of Paleontology or Paleo-anthropology.

- Their researches in this part of the world in the 20th century yielded unprecedented knowledge on the fossils and stone tools of hominids that represent humanity’s ancestors, including:

- Homo Australopithecus,

- Zinjanthropus Bosei,

- Homo Habilis, and

- Homo Erectus.

- Dr. Louis Leakey wrote many books on paleontology, the most popular one being “Adam’s ancestors.”

MY PROFESSIONAL JOURNEY IN HCC

I was fist officially hired to teach Anthropology in HCC in 1990, the same year I was hired as an Adjunct Instructor of Anthropology in the University of Houston, Downtown.

- I taught Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology and Multicultural Education in HCC Southeast College from January 1990 to December 2005 (15 years) when I moved to HCC Northeast College where I continued teaching the latter disciplines from 2006 to 2016 (10 years. In 2017, I moved to HCC Southwest College where I am at present teaching Cultural Anthropology and General Anthropology.

CAREER RELATED PROBLEMS

- My professional journey in HCC has not been an easy one at all.

- As an instructor from a traditional or indigenous society, I’ve faced the following problems:

(1) A clash between my tribal roles as a village elder in Africa and my job as Anthropology Instructor in HCC, and I’ve had to handle the situations to the best of my ability.

- Such times include: rite of passage seasons in the village, and periods for the celebration of birth, marriage and celebrations.

(2) Synchronizing traditional classroom teaching with long distance mechanistic education.

(3) Tracking down numerous telephone calls, e-mails and text messages related to my professional work.

- In recent years, I’ve had to abandon work with UHD to focus solely on HCC in order to do my work well and get along with my colleagues.

- Interestingly, my students and HCC have generally appreciated and recognized my work by giving me plagues and certificates of excellence, to my greatest joy.

WHAT I CONSIDER MY GREATEST PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS

What I consider to be my greatest professional achievements as an anthropologist are as follows:

(1) Teaching and graduating of a large pool of HCC students:

some of who are my colleagues and some working in different sectors of the nations.

In HCC Northeast and Southeast its nice to see myself sitting in the Instructor’s room with professors who once were once my students - In UHD it was nice to meet many of my students in the hallways waving and shouting “Hi Dr. Awasom, you remember me; we were in HCC.”

(2) Hiring a good number of HCC instructors across the disciplines of Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology and Government.

(3) Publications

- I’ve been glad to expose to the public the following publications:

(1) The Kingdom of Mankon

– An ethnography on the Mankon of the Bamenda Grass Fields,

(2) Mankon Folklore

- This presents an anthology Mankon Tribe Folklore and how Mankon Tribe Folklore relates to folklore from other parts of Africa.

(3) Teachers and Teaching in Africa

  • Publication in International Handbook of Research on Teachers and Teaching, by Springer, Vol One, Part One, Page 573.

WHAT I CONSIDER THE GREATEST CHALLENGE THAT FACES THE DISCIPLINE OF ANTHROPOLOGY TODAY

What I consider as the greatest challenge to the discipline of Anthropology today are what Margaret Mead called the “thorny problems of globalization and climate change” (See Rachel Fleming’s article entitled “Savage Minds: Can Anthropology Solve Big Problems”.

– Research shows that climate change is the greatest nightmare to contemporary society. We are today rapidly experiencing global warming, increase ice-melt in the polar regions, rising sea levels and the sinking of many sea front cities in many parts of the world. We are also increasingly experiencing higher atmospheric temperatures due to unstoppable expansion of industrial cities, a phenomenon that leads to poor crop yield, increase wild fire, and increase diseases and death.

- Mead, prophesied that:

(1) That Climate Change and Globalization are the 2 most thorny problems of our Age;

(2) That anthropology, more than all other disciplines, has the ability to study and expose the negative effects of these problems, especially on marginalized communities;

(3) That anthropologists have the important role of preserving not only themselves, their children, and their nations, but the world from the catastrophic destruction of climate change; and

(4) That anthropologists cannot resolve the thorny problems of globalization and climate change completely and unilaterally, since it is corporate capitalists who hold the power cards of these problems in their hands.

– She advised that anthropologists can, however, reduce the seriousness of these problems by serving as mediators.

Help us continue the Legacy of Dr. Lawrence Awason