Africa in Our Lives: Prince Vincent-Anene

The African Studies Program would like to introduce and welcome Prince Vincent-Anene, a new PhD student in the History Department. Prince completed his undergraduate degree at Paul University in Awka, Nigeria. He majored in History, which he recalls, was the biggest department at the university, and offered him a robust community connected through a “common way of thinking that bound everyone together.” Prince’s research interests concern the history of the automobile in Nigeria, which demonstrates the importance of African innovation during colonialism and reveals a more complex story about modernity. He’s also interested in the History of European technology in Africa and argues that Africans were not only consumers of European technology but also innovators, who made and remade these technologies into multiple gamuts of materials for everyday use. His passion for African Studies comes from his desire to “let the world know about the rich cultural diversity within Africa and lend a voice to the deconstruction of some erroneous Eurocentric views about Africa.” Prince is currently in Nigeria, where he has started his graduate program virtually, because of the global pandemic and resulting issues with travel.

What made you choose Madison?

“My choice of Madison stems from the world-class faculty, vibrant student community, and resources at the Department of History and the Science, Medicine and Technology (HSMT) Program, and the Robert F. and Jean E. Holtz Center for Science and Technology, which are well suited for my research. The UW Madison Libraries, especially the Memorial Library has a collection of vital secondary sources that will aid my work. In addition to the world-class faculty, the beautiful city of Madison, dotted with so many lakes and other aesthetics makes Madison a great place to pursue my intellectual training.”

What inspires your interests in history?

“My interest in history has evolved in the last four years, from the history of alcohol and the history of technology to urban history and urbanization. What inspires my interest in history is the fact that I can view the present through the lenses of the past and also make predictions of the future by paying close attention to the dynamics of the past.”

What are you currently reading?

“I am currently reading so many things at the moment for my seminar classes. One of the books I am reading is The Power to Name: A History of Anonymity in Colonial West Africa by Stephanie Newell.  In the book, the author examines the place of print media in colonial Nigeria arguing that anonymity and pseudonymity was a powerful tool in the print media.”

 What advice do you have for other students who are starting their Ph.D. programs online?

“It is a really trying time and our planet has not remained the same. Starting graduate school is not easy and it becomes very difficult starting remotely. However, we all have to persevere and give in our best knowing full well that soon we will be taking classes in person, connecting with our vibrant colleagues.”

How are you fostering connection with your new Madison colleagues from afar?

“It has not been easy to stay connected with everybody. The major challenge I have is the time difference between Nigeria and Madison, I am six hours ahead of most of my colleagues. My cohort organizes Happy Hour every Friday at 6pm – this is 12 midnight in Nigeria. I was able to attend once, for a few minutes before I went to bed. The students in the African History program also had a welcome zoom event for me a few days before the fall semester commenced. I felt so excited to see them and enjoyed interacting with them. Nothing will ever feel better than to be with them soon.”

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

“I see myself as a college professor at a reputable university in the world. I see myself mentoring many young scholars and guiding them through their dreams. I see myself contributing greatly to knowledge production in Africa and beyond. I also see myself making UW-Madison proud as a badger. Finally, I see myself becoming a loving husband and a caring father to my children.”


Produced by Carly Lucas