Selina Shieunda Makana is a PhD student in African American Diaspora Studies (AADS) from Kenya, and benefits from fellowship support made possible by Berkeley-based art dealers of African and Asian imports, Beany and Dick Wezelman. The personal bond they have formed has led to a deep exchange of cultural knowledge and mutual benefit.
Name: Selina Shieunda Makana
Field of study: African Diaspora Studies, Gender & Women’s Studies Emphasis
Background: Selina earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education with a minor in Linguistics and African Literature at Kenyatta University, Kenya. In 2009/2010, she was a visiting scholar at Stanford University under the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching program (FLTA). Selina entered the African Diaspora Studies PhD program in 2011 and her areas of interest include Africa, Caribbean, gender/sexuality, Black feminism, politics/activism. Her research project focuses on questions of social and political activism of women in contemporary Caribbean and Africa. On the side, Selina is also interested in exploring the issue of homophobia in East Africa.
In her own words: “Being a first born in a large family, I wanted to set a good example for my siblings and other girls in my village by pursuing my education. There is also a saying in Kenya that ‘To educate a girl child is to educate an entire village’. I know that what I’m studying at Berkeley will inform my life at home and as a global citizen. Becoming friends with Dick and Beany has added another dimension to my experience, and given me a kind of extended family when I am so far from my own. I could not be at Berkeley without their support, and being at Berkeley has been so much enriched by our friendship.”
Name: Dick & Beany Wezelman
Country: Berkeley, USA
Profession: Art Dealers
Background: Beany and Dick Wezelman launched their import business following Beany’s Peace Corps service in Ethiopia, which also preceded their affiliation with UC Berkeley. The art and handicrafts with which they work come from Africa, Nepal, Thailand, India and Pakistan, and their business has led them to travel the globe. Together they support both a residential scholarship at International House and a Graduate Fellowship fund managed by the Graduate Division.
In their own words: Supporting graduate scholars from Africa at Berkeley just feels right — it fits with how we want to contribute. In part it is reciprocating for all the wonderful experiences and people we know in Africa. But really both Africa and Berkeley have given so much to us! We are glad to give back to Africa via UC Berkeley.