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News Release

January 12, 2005

Thriving Mwangi Cultural Center Moves to Larger Home

Editor's note: President Carol T. Christ and Ginetta Candelario, associate professor of sociology, will join the Smith College community at a reception for the new location at 4 p.m. Jan. 27 at Davis Center.  Although this event is not open to the public, reporters and photographers are welcome.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—The daughter of Kenya’s first female physician will speak at the dedication of the new location of Smith College’s Mwangi Cultural Center, the student gathering place named in honor of her mother, at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 28.

Wambui Mwangi, daughter of the late Ng’endo Mwangi, will present a keynote address at the culmination of an afternoon of events called “Lift As We Rise.” Both Wambui and her mother, Ng’Endo, graduated from Smith College.

All events are free and open to the public and will be held at the new location, Davis Center, located off Prospect Street.

The doors to Davis Hall will open that day at 1 p.m. for an unveiling of a new exhibit of photographs called “A Kaleidoscope of Colors.” Captured by an alumna, the images portray women of color at Smith. At 2:45 p.m., four student organizations housed in the Mwangi Cultural Center will present performances in celebration of the new space.

Wambui Mwangi is a founding member of the Smith African Students’ Association, which is celebrating the move to a larger center along with members of the Asian Students Association, Black Students’ Alliance and the Latina Students Association (Nosotras).

After graduating from Smith in 1990, Wambui Mwangi received her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania and was appointed a faculty member at the University of Toronto. She specializes in African politics, researching the relationship between currency and colonialism in Kenya and has published her research in numerous journals, including the Journal of Cultural Studies and Comparative Studies in Society and History.

The Mwangi Cultural Center opened as the Afro-American Cultural Center in Lilly Hall in 1968 but was renamed in 1973 to honor Ng’endo Mwangi, a member of the Class of 1961, whose dedication and service to her community were well known.

Ng’endo Mwangi attended the Albert Einstein College of Medicine after she graduated from Smith and returned to Kenya to open a clinic. In the arid rural Athi Plains, south of Nairobi, Ng’endo was the only doctor serving a population of 300,000; most of her patients walked more than 50 miles to receive her care.

At the time of Ng’endo’s death in 1989, Smith students wrote “We, the Smith students of today, owe Mwangi a great debt for being one of the vanguard of women who broke down racial and gender barriers, thereby making our progress a little easier.”

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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