Voices of African Immigrants in Kentucky

Stories of Identity and Transnationality

Angene Wilson, Francis Musoni, Iddah Otieno & Jack Wilson




Following historical and theoretical overview of African immigration, the heart of this book is based on oral history interviews with forty-seven of the more than twenty-two thousand Africa-born immigrants in Kentucky. From a former ambassador from Gambia, a pharmacist from South Africa, a restaurant owner from Guinea, to a certified nursing assistant from the Democratic Republic of Congo—every immigrant has a unique and complex story of their life experiences and the decisions that led them to emigrate to the United States. The compelling narratives reveal why and how the immigrants came to the Bluegrass state—whether it was coming voluntarily as a student or forced because of war—and how they connect with and contribute to their home countries as well as to the US. The immigrants describe their challenges—language, loneliness, cultural differences, credentials for employment, ignorance towards Africa, and racism—and positive experiences such as education, job opportunities, and helpful people. One chapter focuses on family—including interviews with the second generations—and how the immigrants identify themselves.


This ground breaking, impressive, and comprehensive book captures, with vividness, the transnational life experiences of the New African immigrants in America who reside in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. - Imali J. Abala, Ohio Dominican University


Angene Wilson is professor emerita of Education at the University of Kentucky where she chaired the secondary social studies program for 29 years.

Francis Musoni is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Kentucky and a Research Associate at the African Center for Migration and Society, University of the Witwatersrand.

Iddah Otieno, born and raised in Kenya, is professor of English and African studies at Bluegrass Community and Technical College where she also directs the Kenya Exchange Program.

Jack Wilson spent more than thirty-five years in public service, first with the US Peace Corps in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Fiji, and then in Kentucky’s Natural Resources and Environmental Cabinet.