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Wed, 20 Apr 2011 12:02:38 EDT by admin, 144409 views
Bowie Sate University, Maryland
Cultural Studies paper by Fenyő, Mario (all papers)
Hungarians in Africa
This paper is a selective study of outstanding Hungarian travelers who have crossed borders, geographically and figuratively speaking, into the African continent. There is considerable distance between Hungary, their homeland, and Africa, if we take culture and civilization into consideration. Africans are not neighbors, except maybe in a spiritual sense.
My selection would include the careers of Moritz Benyovszky, Laszlo Magyar and Emil Torday from the 18th and 19th centuries. These names are vaguely familiar to many Hungarians, but almost unknown to the world at large. They deserve better. Unlike their West European counterparts (Burton, Baker, Stanley, Brazza, Evans-Pritchard, but even the relatively liberal Livingstone and Leo Frobenius), they have distinguished themselves by their receptive and respectful attitude toward Africans in the Congo, in Angola, in Madagascar in particular. Two of the three travelers became African rulers or chiefs, not by dint of force, but by earning the friendship of the native population. The third, Torday, had to abandon Africa because of a hunting accident.
The three Hungarian travelers distinguished themselves in different fields. In addition to familiarization with cultures and languages, one became a self-taught anthropologist, an art collector, and a historian. Torday wrote grammars and compiled vocabularies in half a dozen African languages. It was only in 2011 that his contributions became amply recognized in Hungary proper, thanks to a scholarly expedition focusing on his legacy to the continent and the touring exhibition resulting from it.
Brief Professional Bio:
Dr. Fenyo has been a fixture at Bowie State University since 1988. He represents the ethnic diversity of the institution in microcosm, having lived, worked, taught and studied in Europe (Eastern and Western), Africa (Nigeria, Sudan, Namibia), Asia (Korea), the Caribbean (Puerto Rico, Trinidad) and, of course, various regions of the United States. He has served as President of the Association of Third World Studies. Dr. Fenyo teaches world civilizations, history of the United States, history of Europe and, occasionally, African-American and Latin American history as well. He writes books, essays and articles on a variety of topics, but his favorite ones include the "Third World” (compared), and 20th /21st century East-Central Europe, particularly Hungarian history. He has the habit (some say the “bad habit”) of challenging and revising commonly accepted notions, seeking controversy, and getting it. He prefers asking questions to giving answers (mainly because he has too few of the latter). He would rather work in groups, as opposed to compete individually. He models himself on Thoreau, Neruda, Neto, Nkrumah, and many other peace-loving people. His favorite writers are those of the Nyugat generation.