When the African Studies Program kindly asked me if I wanted to share a few “words of farewell” for its final newsletter of 2022, I immediately accepted. As the outgoing Chair of the department of African Cultural Studies, it made sense to address our community one last time before departing for Syracuse University. And I thought to myself, how hard could it be to write such a farewell? Yet when I sat down to write it, I found myself staring at the blank page for minutes. Then, fearing that those minutes might turn into hours, I decided to google “words of farewell,” which immediately turned out to be overwhelming because I could not settle on any of the available options: farewell “to a coworker,” “to a friend,” “to a colleague,” hmm, would “at a funeral” work for this occasion? C’mon, you can do this, you’ve written “stuff” before!
If I’m being honest, and why not start now, the problem is that I have yet to accept the fact that I am indeed leaving this institution. I love it here. I love UW, the department of African Cultural Studies, the African Studies Program, the department of French & Italian, my students, both undergrad and grad, and especially my advisees, my friends and colleagues (even the Dean), Madison (even in the winter), Wisconsin (even the parts that may not like our city), and of course, most of all, Culver’s. How can I properly express my immense gratitude for all of that, for everyone who has made an impact during my eleven years here? I was told there was no word limit, so I’m just going to list everything and everyone, and turn this newsletter into a phonebook of sorts. Sorry, it turns out that ASP would prefer that I don’t do that. Forgive me for the facetious tone—it’s a tried-and-true defense mechanism. So, I guess what I’m left with is a very general and underwhelming “farewell,” along with an umbrella “thank you,” for everything and to everyone. I appreciate you all, and I will very much so miss you and this beautiful place.