This article is part of an occasional series in which English students interview faculty about their research and report back. Tony Mungo is a junior history major considering an English minor.
I had the pleasure to interview with Dr. Charles Tita, whose main research interests center on making education accessible for students through distance learning opportunities and challenging French colonialism within Francophone African nations.
One of the research papers that Dr. Tita had published for the College Language Association and discussed with me intensely about was entitled, “Towards a poetics of decolonization: The Poor Christ of Bomba”, which connected French colonialism, assimilation, and black consciousness through a Roman Catholic priest who is stationed in a six-region tribe of Cameroon. These patterns helped unpacked the brutal cultural and religious regime that indigenous Cameroonians were subjected to during the colonial period ranging from assimilation to displacement of their ancestral territories. Through their perseverance, resistance, and challenging to French norms, Francophone Africans birthed a greater movement to take place throughout the Francophone African Diaspora.
Within Dr. Tita’s paper, he connects the conditions of Africans within the French Caribbean to that of Phyllis Wheatley, who was enslaved within British North America. Dr. Tita reclaims Wheatley’s symbolic connection to her African roots by stating, “Phyllis Wheatley, is arguably a slave narrator who has embedded within her poetry a reflective narrative against the atrocities of American slavery” (183) and arguing that Wheately’s utilization of imagery and symbols allowed for a more indirect but intimate connection to her West African roots.
Within the interview, Dr Tita discussed significantly about how the impact of the Distance Learning program at UNC Pembroke not only addressed accessibility for commuter students regarding educational access but also how the eventual creation of the first online offering of Composition II allowed for online degree students to complete their general educational requirements. Dr. Tita’s main goal in regard to his research into distance education, as well as in addressing anti blackness and colonialism within the Francophone African world, not only connects patterns of accessibility and racial demographics but also argues that understanding these nuances allows for a larger conversation to take place surrounding these important themes.
Overall, Dr. Tita’s main purpose is not only being a mentor for students, especially students of color, at UNC Pembroke when it comes to distance and technological educational access but also continuing to make visible the intersections that the African diaspora continues to face on daily basis ranging from identity representation to being autonomous from colonial rule.