A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
March 9, 2006 Volume 36 / Number 6


Celebration of Miriam Ma'At-Ka-Re Monges' Life

Miriam Ma’At-Ka-Re Monges, 56, died in Philadelphia on Feb. 11, where she was recuperating from a long illness. She was born Feb. 1, 1950. Monges published her doctoral dissertation, Kush: The Jewel of Nubia, in 1999 and had numerous articles published in the Journal of Black Studies and in other scholarly journals. In 1999, Monges was the recipient of the Maggie Award given for outstanding service to women in Chico.

Professor Monges was hired as an assistant professor of Social Work in 1995. She held a joint appointment in the Multicultural and Gender Studies Program. She received a PhD in African American Studies from Temple University in 1995. She received a MSW from Temple in 1979. She received accelerated promotion to the rank of professor in 2002.

“Dr. Monges was a dedicated, sincere, and committed faculty member who loved teaching, who loved her social work background and training, and who loved working with Chico State students. She is well known on campus for her Candace Rites of Passage Program. Miriam was a warm, caring, and spiritual person. In her brief time as a faculty member at Chico State she (along with Professor Carol Burr) was instrumental in bringing the Multicultural and Gender Studies program back to life.”

– Byron Jackson, Dean of the College of Behaviorial and Social Sciences.

“Dr. Monges was academically talented, intellectually lively, collegially first rate, and deeply committed to mentoring African American students. It will be difficult if not impossible to replace her. May her soul rest in peace.”

– Dr. Hassan Sisay,
History Department

“From the day Dr. Monges arrived on campus, she has been an incredible source of inspiration to me, and always will be. We must count ourselves so very fortunate to have had her in our lives. I miss her dearly.”

– Dr. Jan O'Donnell, Chair,
School of Social Work

Last spring, I conducted a series of seminars for women that explored rites-of-passage customs inspired by African and African American traditions. They provided participants with tools to facilitate handling the challenges of life.

In traditional African cultures, progression from one stage to another is accompanied by special acts, such as apprenticeship in our trades. The individual and the society are believed to be interdependent, and mentors assist the individual to prepare for the next stage….

…The workshops were named after the Candaces, a series of queens who ruled a part of ancient Nubia called Kush. Workshop participants studied leadership characteristics of various ancient queens to determine aspects of their behavior with which they wanted to identify. Each participant also developed a journal of discovery, composed of written and visual self-reflections.

The culmination was a beautiful ceremony, during which the participants chose new names that corresponded with the attributes of themselves they wanted to emulate. The rites-of-passage seminars will be held again this year starting in Black History month and culminating in May.

– From Spring ’98 Chico Statements,
“Candaces: Female Rites of Passages.”
Written by Miriam

“Imagine it: you're a foot soldier in the Roman army that for several years has been occupying the border region between Egypt and Kush, a wealthy “king”-dom extending southward up the Nile where, it is reputed, the rulers are often queens. Back home across the Mediterranean, women have very little power, which is, you think, as it should be. After all, didn't Antony's dalliance with a certain Egyptian queen just a few years back lead to his ouster by Augustus? Suddenly, the call to arms.…

“…As you take up your position against the enemy, you are surprised to note that a formidable-looking woman is leading the charge against you....

She was fierce, she was black, and she prevailed.”

– Excerpt from Miriam’s book Kush: The Jewel of Nubia

“I see this probably being my life's work…. Today we don't have women with the power they had then.” …

Asked whether she was transformed personally by her research, Monges said, “I felt a connection to the culture and to the people there; I felt a connection to the tombs, the pyramids, the temples. I felt like I was in a state of grace, that I was meant to be there, that I could understand them. And I felt a duty to explain them. ”

– Excerpt from Spring ’98 Chico Statements
article (“Under the Wing of Aset: Chico
Scholar Documents Female Leadership
Patterns of Ancient Africa”) on Miriam’s
research and book, Kush

Writer James Baldwin sums up my feelings: “[T]hough it is sometimes difficult to imagine our nation free of racism and sexism, my intellect, my heart and my experience tell me that it is actually possible. For that day when neither exists we must all struggle.”

– Except from a letter by Miriam to the Orion March 29, 2000

Miriam Ma’At-Ka-Re Monges
1950 - 2006