Testimony of an alumnusNumber of visits: 317
Keeping the Spirit of the Nairobi 2015 Alive
By Essien D. Essien, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Uyo, Uyo, Nigeria
It is amazing how much we could learn in just five days. From 26th-30th January 2015, CODESRIA in her patriotic and magnanimous spirit for young scholars and the continent engaged a group of Early Career Researchers in Africa in a truly scintillating and re-energizing training and development workshops on methodology. It was a great privilege for me to be part of the cream of participants, which were drawn not only from various disciplines in the Social Sciences and Humanities but also from different countries such as Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon, the Gambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Botswana, and Tanzania . The workshop was truly reassuring to me that there is still hope for scholarship in my generation and the next, thanks to the resource persons who shared their knowledge and experiences with laureates.
The organization of the workshop was simply amazing. The participants were fully sponsored for their travel and stay. The organizers did a wonderful job of making our stay a comfortable one. The venues, AICAD facilities, were ideal. The Methodological Workshop for Early Career Researchers in Africa was organized by CODESRIA as part of the practical steps taken to build capacity for young scholars in African Universities and institutions and also advance collaboration between African scholars in the areas of social sciences and humanities.
The five days training and development workshop on qualitative research methodology was one of serious academic and intellectual drilling aimed principally at developing our skills to be able to a) carve our own research niche, b) undertake good quality research, c) understand methodology and seek its benefits, d) seek collaboration and stay connected with colleagues in other institutions, e) communicate our research findings, and, h) publish our researches in high quality international journals such the ones own by CODESRIA. These, in my opinion, are what every academic is (should be) looking for.
Now a number of points that were raised during discussions in the workshop, which I believe is worth sharing with my colleagues in Nigerian universities and research institutes. The first issue is the importance of research collaboration with others, whether from your discipline or not. Why is this important? This is important in the sense that through collaboration one may access funds or grants from areas where grants are available or adequate. Some researchers in many disciplines usually do not get funds, for instance when you compare the natural sciences with the social sciences. The natural scientists get more funding from different sources than the social scientists and those in the humanities. Hence, social scientists need to collaborate with the natural scientists and humanities to access funding and advance research in their area. Interdisciplinary research may be more likely to attract funding, depending on the funding agency. We are in a world where interdisciplinary research is sine qua non for overcoming some of our complex challenges. Sometimes I feel it is laziness for researchers to fold their hand and expect manna to fall from heaven. It is the duty of researchers to seek funds from various sources, such as collaborations and entering into competition for international research funds.
The second issue has to do with the importance of impact or value of research in the development of our society. The big question here is what is the value of our research to our society? What is its impact on specific issues, say on governance, on the economy, on employment reduction, on poverty eradication, peace, security, etc? How can we make our researches have practical meaning in our society? Again I ask: why is the government of many African countries uninterested in the research from our scholars? Why are there no industries interested in these researches?
When the politicians are overwhelmed with the problems of the country, it is the responsibility of the social scientists to point the way, to direct the course of the nation out of the conundrums. For instance, the security challenges facing Nigeria due to the insurgency by BOKO HARAM need to be reviewed by researchers in the universities. I am not sure if there is any position paper addressed to the President or State Governor emanating from any faculty in the over hundred Universities in Nigeria on how to deal with the current insecurity situation, it will be ignored. The impact of our research is necessary for people to believe in the education they receive from our higher institutions.
Lastly, I will like to once again congratulate CODESRIA, the Laureates, Resource persons, the Scientific Coordination, the local coordinating/organizing committee anchor person and the CODESRIA executive committee member that all made it possible for workshop to be a success.
Please keep the spirit alive. aluta continua victoria asata.
Essien D. Essien, Ph.D
Dept. of Religious and Cultural Studies,
Faculty of Arts & Humanities,
University of Uyo,