ALA Constitution and Bylaws

The Constitution of the African Literature Association

 I. The name of the organization shall be The African Literature Association.

II.  “The ALA is an independent professional society open to scholars, teachers and writers from every country. It exists primarily to facilitate the attempts of a world-wide audience to appreciate the creative efforts of African writers and artists. The organization welcomes the participation of all who produce the subject of our study and hope for a constructive interaction between scholars and artists. The ALA as an organization affirms the primacy of African peoples in shaping the future of African literature and actively supports the African peoples in their struggle for liberation.”

III. The specific aims of the African Literature Association are the following:

A.  Bring together African literature scholars and teachers from all levels of instruction - primary, secondary, junior college, college, and university - from all parts of the world.

B.  Promote the teaching of African literatures at all levels of instruction.

C.  Encourage and foster scholarship about African literatures.

D.  Disseminate information about African literatures.

E.  Affirm the organization's belief in freedom of expression, freedom to pursue truth in research, and the freedom and dignity of all people in Africa. The ALA membership, either directly or through its Executive Council when time factors render a referendum impractical, will decide whether to take a stand and determine the nature of the stand to be taken on all issues affecting this principle.

IV. Organization of the African Literature Association.

A.  Officers

1.  President to serve for one year.

2.  Past-President to serve for one year after being President.

3.  Vice-President to be elected for one year, with automatic succession to Presidency.

4.  Deputy Vice President: “The candidate who receives the second highest number of votes in the election for Vice President becomes Deputy Vice President. The Deputy Vice President is a voting member of the Executive Council. The Deputy Vice President assists the President and Vice President in their duties. In the event of a vacancy in the office of Vice President, the Deputy Vice President becomes the interim Vice President for the remainder of the term of the Vice President. S/he may run in the next ALA elections.” (Constitutional Amendment, 2002)

5.  Secretary to be elected for two years.

6.  Treasurer to be elected for two years.

7. JALA  Editor to be elected for three years, with an annual review by Executive Council and occasional Executive Council appointment of an Associate Editor.

8.  Conference Organizer [“Convener”]: will be selected by the institution hosting the annual conference; will be separate from the position of President, and will be an ex- officio  member of the Executive Council.

B.  Executive Council

1.  Officers of the ALA.

2.  Nine members elected for staggered three year terms.

a.  A member failing to attend two consecutive semi-annual meetings or failing to provide an alternate for those meetings shall be deemed to have resigned.

b.  vacancies shall be filled by Executive Council appointment, with an elected replacement to fill the remainder of the term on the next annual ballot

C.  Committees

1.  The ALA shall have 8 permanent committees:

a.  “Research and Teaching” (to be concerned with articles III.A-D., above);

b.  “Issues” (to be concerned with Article III.E., above);

c.  “Constitutional Reform” (to be presided over by the Vice-President).

d.  Finance;

e.  Awards

f.  Travel Grants

g.  Publications

h.  Publicity and Media Relations

2.  Other standing and ad hoc  committees shall be established by the Executive Council from time to time as may be deemed necessary.

D.  Membership. The dues are for the Calendar year. They are proposed by the Executive Council subject to ratification by the membership at the Annual Business Meeting. There are four categories of membership: Individual (regular and special: e.g. student, unemployed, and retired); Institutional; Sponsor; and Life.

E  Annual Meeting.

1.  Quorum at the Annual Business Meeting.

a.  10% of the members in good standing.

b.  A simple majority of those present will suffice for decisions on all matters except those specifically excluded.

c.  Constitutional changes: 2/3 majority of those present at the Annual Business Meeting.

d.  On written request of 5 members, a mail ballot shall be called on any issue.

e.  In matters of dispute, Robert's Rules of Order  will be the guide.

2. Panels

a  Participants (other than invited guests) shall be members of the Association.

b. Programs will be conducted in accordance with The guidelines adopted by the Executive Council.

F .Finances. During its Fall meeting, the Executive Council shall appoint two auditors who are not members of the Executive Council. The Treasurer shall send copies of the accounts to the auditors by January 31 of the following year. ALA account books are open for inspection by the annual ALA meetings. Notwithstanding any other provisions of these articles, the Association is organized exclusively for one (or more) purpose(s) as specified in section 501(c) (3) pf the United States Revenue Code of 1986, and shall not carry on any activities not permitted to be carried on by an organization exempt From Federal income tax under IRC 501©(3) pr corresponding provisions Federal tax laws.

1. No part of the net earnings of the Association shall inure to the benefit of any member, trustee, director, or officer of the Association or any private individual (except that reasonable compensation may be paid for services rendered to or for the Association), and no member, trustee, or officer of the Association or any private individual shall be entitled to share in the distribution of any of the Association’s assets on dissolution of the Association.

2. No substantial part of the activities of the Association shall be carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, except as otherwise provided by IRC 501 (h), and the Association shall not participate in or, intervene in (excluding the publication or distribution of statements), any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.

3. In the event of dissolution, all of the remaining Assets and property of the Association shall, after payment of necessary expenses thereof, be disbursed to such organizations as shall qualify under section 501 ©(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 198

4. In any taxable year in which the Association is a private foundation as described in IRC 509(a), it shall distribute its income for said period at such time and manner as not to subject it to tax under IRC 4942, and it shall not engage in any act of self –dealing as defined in IRC 4941(d), retain any excess business holdings as defined in IRC 4943(c), make any investments in such a manner as to subject the Association to tax under IRC 4944, or make any taxable expenditures as defined in IRC 4945(d) or corresponding provisions of any subsequent Federal tax laws.

(N.B. an ALA Executive Handbook and Calendar  which elaborates upon Constitutional responsibilities and other related matters is distributed to all officers and Executive Councillors upon election, and is available to all ALA members for a modest fee from the ALA Headquarters. The booklet also contains Guidelines for ALA Conference Conveners and instructions on how to bid for an ALA Conference.)


ALA Governance has never included “bylaws.” However, from time to time the Executive in its own meetings, and the membership present at the Annual Business Meetings have voted on important issues which have supplemented the Constitution , without amending it. Two examples are:

1) At the 1981 ALA conference in Claremont, California, the Executive unanimously passed a motion by Dennis Brutus, which prevents a matter of a constitutional or other major importance to the Association from being voted on at the Annual Business Meeting without prior publication of the text to be voted on in the ALA Bulletin’s  Autumn issue (it will now be the Newsletter’s  Autumn issue) prior to a Conference where a vote will be taken. The text must invite comments from members at large for publication in the Winter Bulletin (now Newsletter ), which will allow them to influence the vote, regardless of whether they attend the Conference and vote on the matter at the Annual Business Meeting.

2. At the 1992 Annual Business meeting in St. Catherine’s Ontario, a unanimous vote allowed the Executive Council to accept bids for the future ALA Conference, thus eliminating costly delays for Conveners and institutions which have offered to host a Conference at a late date when no others have put in a bid.