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Wunyabari Maloba, shown here delivering a lecture on campus in 2017, has been named the Edward L. Ratledge Professor of Africana Studies and History.
Wunyabari Maloba, shown here delivering a lecture on campus in 2017, has been named the Edward L. Ratledge Professor of Africana Studies and History.

New Ratledge Professor

Photo by Lane McLaughlin

W.O. Maloba appointed to named position in Africana studies and history

Wunyabari (W.O.) Maloba, chair of the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Delaware, has been appointed the Edward L. Ratledge Professor of Africana Studies and History, effective Feb. 7.

“Professor Maloba has a long and distinguished career as a scholar and is internationally known for his work in African nationalism,” said John A. Pelesko, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “In addition, he’s been a champion and leader of Africana studies at the University of Delaware. He has served as the interim chair and then chair of that department for the past eight years. He is truly deserving of this honor.”

Maloba, who earned his doctorate at Stanford and joined the UD faculty as an assistant professor of history in 1988, was the founding director of the African Studies Program from 1992-2002. He has been a professor of history, Black American studies (the former name of the Africana Studies Department) and women’s studies (now women and gender studies).

He served the University as assistant vice president for affirmative action and multicultural programs and as chair of the President’s Commission to Promote Racial and Cultural Diversity, stepping down from those positions in 2009 to return to the faculty and continue his research and teaching.

A recognized scholar of African nationalism, revolutionary movements, women’s history and Africana studies, Maloba is the author of four major books, including Mau Mau and Kenya: An Analysis of a Peasant Revolt and African Women in Revolution. His most recent books are Kenyatta and Britain: An Account of Political Transformation, 1929-1963, and Anatomy of Neo-Colonialism in Kenya: British Imperialism and Kenyatta, 1963-1978. The two volumes, published in 2017 by Palgrave Macmillan, have been described as the first systematic political history of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s founding president, and the first serious political biography of him in 40 years. The books explore Kenyatta’s life as an anti-colonial activist and as prime minister and then president and his linkage to post-colonial imperialism. Maloba is also the author of numerous scholarly articles, chapters and conference papers.

Maloba, who has led the Department of Africana Studies since 2014, has overseen its name change from Black American Studies as well as its expansion in size and curriculum. The past year has been especially successful, he said.

“We’ve had a tremendous year,” he said. “We’ve changed the curriculum, and we’re looking to hire some new faculty. Also, our new master’s degree program started this academic year.”

In addition, he said, current events and such issues as the Black Lives Matter movement have prompted increased interest among students to learn more about Africana studies. Students, he said, “gravitate to our classes” as they look for ways to discuss and understand issues involving racism and other problems that are in the news today.

“These are questions that are confounding society,” Maloba said. “And our department is a place that students can come and engage with our faculty and each other to explore them. This is what we do. We measure our success by how many students come through our doors from all over the University.”

Maloba plans to step down as department chair and begin a sabbatical at the end of 2022 in order to focus on his continued research and writing, which requires travel to the United Kingdom and elsewhere to examine documents. He has two book projects that are underway, with one expected to be published by the end of the year.

About the Ratledge Professorship

The Edward L. Ratledge Professorship, which was created as part of the effort to increase the number of named professorships across the University, is named in honor of Ed Ratledge.

Ratledge, a former faculty member in what was then the College of Human Services, Education and Public Policy (CHEP), performed many statistical studies for public policy and state entities. A variety of UD faculty members in numerous disciplines have held the Ratledge Professorship since its creation in 2005.

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