[OPE-L:7664] NYTimes.com Article: P. Wamba, Who Wrote of Life as African and American, Dies at 31

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Sat Sep 14 2002 - 16:08:43 EDT

I forward this in part because I know the elder Wamba and his 
associate Jacques Depelchin have expressed great interest in John 
Holloway's ideas, even as Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja charges the elder 
Wamba-dia-Wamba and Depelchin's DRC for being under the thumb of the 
Ugandan military which seems however to have attempted the 
assasination of the elder Wamba. The younger Phillipe is survived by 
his brother, now completing a Ph.D at Stanford in Physics.
This list has had little discussion about Africa.

P. Wamba, Who Wrote of Life as African and American, Dies at 31

September 14, 2002

Philippe Wamba, the son of a Congolese rebel leader, who
wrote about his family's complex and often disorienting
dual existence as both Africans and Americans, died
Wednesday in a car accident in Kenya while doing research
for a book. He was 31.

Mr. Wamba, who had lived in Boston for the past three years
and served as the editor in chief of the Web site
Africana.com, moved to Africa in April to begin work on a
book of essays about issues facing African young people. He
had spent time in Johannesburg and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania,
and was driving from Nairobi to Mombassa, in Kenya, when
the accident occurred.

Mr. Wamba's life was peripatetic from the start. Born in
California, he was raised in Boston and Dar es Salaam and
was educated everywhere from New Mexico to New York to
Cambridge, Mass., where he graduated from Harvard in 1993.

In a well-received memoir, "Kinship: A Family's Journey in
Africa and America," published by Dutton in 1999, the
difficult conclusion Mr. Wamba drew about his life and
those of many African expatriates was that being a citizen
of two starkly different worlds could sometimes mean
belonging to neither.

But his experiences provided him with a rare vantage point
from which to write about being black in America and about
the way Americans, both black and white, viewed Africa.

"Philippe literally embodied that space between two
distinct but related worlds, the African continent and its
diaspora," said Henry Louis Gates Jr., the chairman of
Harvard's Afro-American Studies Department and one of Mr.
Wamba's mentors.

Mr. Wamba's father, Ernest Wamba dia Wamba (his son used a
shortened version of the family name), was born and raised
in what was then the Belgian Congo. He came to America in
the early 1960's after winning a scholarship to Western
Michigan University, in Kalamazoo, where he met and married
Mr. Wamba's mother, Elaine Brown, from Detroit.

The elder Mr. Wamba worked as a professor in the United
States and then moved his family back to Africa. Years
later, after Philippe Wamba had followed in his father's
footsteps, returning to the United States to go to college,
Mr. Wamba dia Wamba rose to the leadership of a rebel
faction in Congo, providing yet another unlikely dimension
to his son's life.

The elder Mr. Wamba survives his son, as does Mr. Wamba's
mother and two younger brothers, Kolo and James. Philippe
Wamba was to be married next year to Marang Setshwaelo of

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

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