Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Lost Path: Sociology of Depression

By Biko Agozino

On December 23, 2016, a young Nigerian Engineer contacted me by email to say that his Uncle, a Professor of Chemistry at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria, recommended that he should interview me for a video documentary on ‘getting lost’ or depression from a Sociological perspective. Having written a book chapter on ‘Postcolonialism and Insanity’ in the past, I quickly accepted the invitation to contribute to his documentary. But I wanted to know more about the purpose of the video. He told me that he nearly lost a close friend to suicide and decided to do the documentary as a way to help others.

With Kwanzaa approaching, I had the seven principles of Umoja (Unity), Kujichugulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith or Wellness) in mind when I suggested that we could conduct the interview any day from 26 December, 2016. Kwanzaa is a celebration at the end of the year from December 26 to 31 by people of African descent based on African cultural principles developed by Dr. Maulana Karenga. It is celebrated more in the African Diaspora than in Africa itself today.

The young man asked if I could record a video of myself answering his questions and send to him. I suggested a live Skype interview for him to record but the picture quality may not be ideal for a documentary. In the end, I decided to do a Powerpoint presentation with narration and I mailed this to him on December 28. He downloaded the large file from Google Documents but could not hear the narration. I suggested that he should download the most up to date Powerpoint X program and he did. He later posted on his Facebook page that I gave him the most valuable gift of the year through my presentation and I thanked him for giving me the opportunity to engage the community.  He went on to edit the Powerpoint presentation into a video with soundtracks and posted the series of slides and commentaries on Youtube. Feel free to see the work and leave a comment by clicking the link.

You will notice that the powerpoint presentation does not cover all the relevant sociological texts but you are welcome to fill in the gaps by, for example, bringing in the genres of Black Psychology and Symbolic Interactionism which I left out of my present(ation).

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