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Meet Tsitsi Jaji, Exploring The 'Diaspora'

Duke English professor Tsitsi Jaji remembers the noises of independence outside her window in her home country of Zimbabwe when she was 4 years old. Jaji grew up as a part of Zimbabwe's first legally integrated generation and witnessed the country's recovery from harsh colonial rule.

She cultivated her love for classical piano against the backdrop of racial politics and social turmoil. At 15, she became the first woman of color to perform as a soloist with the Zimbabwean Symphony Orchestra in the capital city of Harare.

Today, music is still at the center of her career. In her first book, "Africa in Stereo: Modernism, Music, and Pan-African Solidarity" (Oxford University Press/2014), Jaji explores the meaning of the African diaspora and how African-American music influences African pop culture.

Host Frank Stasio talks with poet and scholar Tsitsi Jaji about growing up in Zimbabwe and the relationship between Western cowboy imagery and African music and film.

Jaji will read her poetry at Flyleaf Books on Friday, October 16 at 6:30 p.m. as a part of the West End Poetry Festival. 

Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
Charlie Shelton-Ormond is a podcast producer for WUNC.