Professor Nakanyike Musisi was one of two U of T faculty members honoured by the African Alumni Association

September 29, 2017 by Department of History Staff

When she started at the University of Toronto in the 1980s, Nakanyike B. Musisi was the first African woman to be a PhD candidate in the history department.

Today, the associate professor of African history serves as a mentor to other students from the continent, many of them women who have gone on to competitive graduate programs around the world.

Her office in the Faculty of Arts & Science’s history department, with a comfy futon and an inviting oak table with coffee stains, has become a familiar basecamp for international students from Africa. People stop by when they’re feeling a little homesick, need encouragement or just seeking academic advice.

Musisi has kept her connection to Africa. She’s taken undergraduate students to Uganda and Kenya for summer abroad and course-based trips. Twice a year, she returns to Uganda – her husband, also a U of T alum, is a psychiatrist there. She also took a 10-year leave to go back home and help reinvigorate her alma mater, Makerere University in Kampala, raising $19.5 million from international foundations for community-based research and becoming the university’s first African woman to lead an institute. 

“I decided to go back to Uganda because I was feeling bad,” she recalled. “I felt like my country had invested in me. Then I graduated, and I didn’t do any service. So I decided to take a leave and go back to my country.” 

For her contributions to Africa and the community here, Musisi is one of two U of T faculty members and several alumni who were honoured Friday by the African Alumni Association.

Honouring U of T's African scholars and alumni