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Thursday 27 Nov 2014

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What makes an African-American? BBC Focus On Africa magazine asks audiences across USA

BBC World Service's quarterly print magazine, BBC Focus On Africa, is taking its July-September issue on the road across the United States – from Monday 13 to Friday 24 July, the magazine will be holding debates around African-American identity.

In addition, the magazine will be looking to connect with key businesses and audiences across five key US cities with large Afro-American communities through meetings and media interviews.

Editor of BBC Focus On Africa magazine, Nick Ericsson, and Managing Editor, Alison Kingsley-Hall, will be in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus (Ohio) and Washington DC, hosting debates at universities about the identity of African-Americans and what makes an African-American African.

The team will also be discussing the efficacy of DNA testing to prove people's African ancestry – a cover story on the magazine's current issue.

On Tuesday 14 July, BBC Focus On Africa magazine will be joining forces with the BBC's flagship interactive programme, Africa Have Your Say, for a live debate on the issue of ancestry and identity from the BBC office at the UN headquarters in New York.

Regular contributor to BBC Focus On Africa magazine, journalist and author Mukoma Wa Ngugi, will be a guest on the programme (BBC World Service 16.00-17.00 GMT).

On Tuesday 21 July, in the town hall of Columbus, Ohio, BBC Focus On Africa will hold a public debate on African-American identity.

Organised in association with Columbus University, the debate will feature African-American professors from the university as well as Nick Ericsson and Mukoma Wa Ngugi.

Further discussions are being planned with universities in Washington DC and Atlanta.

Nick Ericsson says: "It's a great opportunity to meet our readers in the United States – both those from the diaspora, and those who historically have very strong links to Africa and who rely on the BBC for up-to-date news and analysis on the continent. Of course, we also hope to find a number of new readers as well."

Notes to Editors

Nick Ericsson is also a radio producer with BBC World Service African News and Current Affairs. He produces the current-affairs programmes Network Africa and Focus On Africa, which provide him with unique access and insight to pan-African news. Before joining the BBC, South-African born Ericsson worked as a school teacher. He then spent five years as a presenter and producer with Talk Radio 702 in Johannesburg. Nick has also presented two TV talk programmes on South Africa's national broadcaster, SABC, and has worked as freelance print journalist and a public policy researcher for a think-tank in Johannesburg. When Ericsson first moved to the UK, he worked for the Church Times publication before moving to BBC World Service.

Mukoma wa Ngugi is regular columnist for BBC Focus On Africa magazine. Son of the famous Kenyan author, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Mukoma is the author of Hurling Words At Consciousness and Conversing With Africa: Politics of Change. He is also editor of New Kenyan Fiction and co-editor of Pambazuka News (pambazuka.org). Nairobi Heat, a novel about an African-American detective investigating a murder in Africa, is forthcoming.

Alison Kingsley-Hall is the managing editor of the BBC Focus On Africa magazine, responsible for all aspects of the running of the magazine, including promotion, distribution, advertising and editorial. A South African, she originally worked for political magazine Leadership in Cape Town where she was based during the final years before the end of apartheid. She then moved to Ogilvy Africa international advertising agency, where she was a media buyer/planner on a number of accounts, including Volkswagen and Shell. Since moving to the UK, she has worked in various parts of the BBC, including the legal department dealing with independent programme commissions and as a TV researcher for BBC Factual programmes.

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