Three African academics will be joining African Studies Centre, University of Oxford in different capacities this year. They are Katharina Oke (Nigeria) – Departmental Lecturer in African History, Miles Tendi (Zimbabwe) – Associate Professor in the Politics of Africa and Wale Adebanwi (Nigeria) – Rhodes Professor of Race Relations and Director of The African Studies Centre.
Katharina Oke is currently a DPhil Student in History. She holds a Beit Research Scholarship from the History Faculty and her thesis is titled: ‘Budding Forth in its Nascent Growth’: English-Language and Yoruba-Language Newspapers in the Lagos Printing Sphere. Her publications include ‘The Colonial Public Sphere in Nigeria, 1920‐1943’, and she is a 2013/14 Gerda Henkel Stiftung Fellow at Queen’s College, Oxford.
Blessing-Miles Tendi is also a writer and has taught African Politics in Department of International Development since 2011. Prior to joining the Department of International Development, Tendi worked as a risk consultant for Control Risks (London). His research interests include society and the state; the political role of African militaries; Southern African politics (especially Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Madagascar, Swaziland); and the role of regional organisations in crisis resolution in Africa.
His publications include ‘Politics, Patronage and Violence in Zimbabwe’ (book) co-authored with J Alexander, J McGregor) (2014), ‘Making History in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe: Politics, Intellectuals and the Media’ (book) and ‘Transnationalism, Contingency and Loyalty in African Liberation Armies: The Case of ZANU ’s 1974 –1975 Nhari Mutiny’
Wale Adebanwi is the first black Rhodes Professor of Race Relations since the chair was created over 60 years ago. He is moving on from his previous position as Associate Professor of African American and African Studies at University of California, Davis. He is the co-editor of The Journal of Contemporary African Studies. Wale has a BSc in Mass Communications from the University of Lagos, an M.Sc and a Ph. D. in Political Science from the University of Ibadan, and an MPhil and a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge.
He has also worked as a reporter, writer and columnist for various publications in Nigeria including Nigerian Tribune and The NEWS. His publications include ‘Yoruba Elite and Ethnic Politics in Nigeria: Obafemi Awolowo and Corporate Agency’ (book), ‘Authority Stealing: Anti-Corruption War and Democratic Politics in Post-Military Nigeria’ (book), ‘Nigeria: The Predators Prepare to Pounce’, and ‘The Clergy, Culture and Political Conflicts in Nigeria’.
Wale’s research interests include Democracy; State-Civil Society Relations; Elites; Political Communication; Political Economy of Social & Cultural formations in Africa; Nationalism, Ethnicity & Identity Politics; Territoriality, Spatial Politics & Cities; Transnationalism & Migration; Religion & Cultural Politics; Citizenship & Civic service and Historical Anthropology.
By Tsi Njim, MSc International Health and Tropical Medicine (2017) Kellogg College
This is a story based on Tsi’s fieldwork experiences. He is a Physician from Cameroon whose interests include Maternal Health and Outbreak Epidemiology. His thesis is titled “A prognostic model for development of sepsis in patients admitted for severe falciparum malaria in Southeast Asia.”
06:55: International TropMed Residence, Room 507
It wasn’t a particularly humid morning. It was humid enough to make me miss cold days though. I woke up with the same thought that had kept me wide awake into the early hours of the morning. For some reason, my model had crashed. And as if only to annoy me, the alarm on my phone reminded me that I had a deadline to submit said model by the end of the day.
I put my earphones on and buried my eyes in the whiteness of my laptop screen. I had to work.
09:00: International TropMed Residence, Lift 1
I still had my earphones on. I can’t remember what was playing. Probably because I was still combing through my mind to find solutions to my model’s sudden illness. I had spent the whole morning going diligently through each patient’s records. Over a thousand of them. Each coded such that they couldn’t possibly be identified. Some of them had gone through significant distress. Others had lost their lives. Most survived. They all had become numbers. Nonetheless, the ethics of it all had us hide the suffering behind codes and numbers. It was easier on the mind.
09:05: The Sandwich Hut, Opposite 7/11
Indeed. It wasn’t a humid morning. The lady at the Sandwich Hut greeted me with a smile. Everyone always did here. It was one of the reasons I visited the Hut every morning. The sandwiches weren’t particularly good. But the smiles more than made up for any mediocrity. Nothing like a bright smile to start an unpromising day. She wrapped my sandwich in a bag. Another smile. I was grateful.
09:10: The Lobby, Building 4
I had to wait for the guard to sign me into the building. He was nowhere to be found. As I waited, I watched the wave of people hurrying to their jobs in couples and threes. A few in quartets. I noticed a woman in her fifties approaching the building. Or me. Alone. Slowly. Steadily. Assuredly. At that moment, I could feel in the depths of my belly that I was about to have an interesting encounter. Or at least, she would let me into the building. Of course. She had the key card in her hand. “Good morning” she greeted as she opened the door. I think I replied. I hope I did.
09:12: The Lift, Building 4
“Where are you from?” she asked. “Cameroon” I replied almost abruptly. It may have given the impression that I wasn’t ready for a chat. She was relentless. “So, what brings you to Bangkok?” she continued. “Research. I’m working on a dissertation. I’m trying to see why some people die of severe malaria.” I tried to be as explicit as possible hoping she will give up on the impromptu trial I was facing. She the prosecutor, I the defendant. “But we don’t have any malaria in Bangkok!” she looked surprised.
09:15: The Bridge, Third floor
“Erm, no you don’t” I said as we exited the lift.
“Then why Bangkok?” she asked.
“I’m doing a secondary data analysis and the data is kept here.”
09:18: The Lift, Building 5
“Ah! The data. It’s always the data. People keep flogging the data even after the patients are gone. I wonder what those patients will think if they know those hanging on to their data were not even there to at least hold their hands in their time of suffering.” She said smiling as she exited the lift.
09:20: Clinical Trials Unit
I’d have imagined she felt triumphant. I would have if I were her. She went in the opposite direction. Without even glancing back at me. Alone. Slowly. Steadily. Assuredly. The mystery data lady – I chose to call her. Her words kept resonating in my ears. She was right. Of course, she was. We had indeed hidden the patients’ sufferings behind codes. Patients, people had become numbers. It was ethical to do so. But then again after doing that, we kept using their data without any added benefit to them. Some of us weren’t even there to contribute in their healthcare at the time of their illness. To hold their hands. But somehow, we hoped that our work will help benefit people on a larger scale. Not the patients actually.
No. They were long gone. The greater good. In truth, most of the time, it didn’t. It was a dilemma. It was my dilemma. My ethical dilemma. And it was something that kept me troubled with the idea of my secondary data analysis.
With that on my mind, the idea of my model crashing hit me like a wave. It was like my brain was trying to shock me into concentrating on what it thought was more important.
My model’s illness versus my ethical dilemma. Really, which was more important at the moment?
09:22: The Offices
I entered the offices. It wasn’t a particularly humid day. But the air conditioning unit had been set to subroom temperatures as it always was by my colleagues. It was freezing. It always was freezing inside the offices. “Good morning Claire” I greeted “It is quite cold” I complained as usual. “Yes, it is” she smiled back knowing fully well that nothing will be done about my complaint. As usual. She had a jacket on.
Surprisingly, it was cold in Bangkok. And it was so cold that it made me miss the sun.
Video: Dr Shadreck Chirikure is an archaeologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology of the University of Cape Town.
As a researcher, he believes in producing Africa-centred knowledge that can make a difference to societies, particularly the many marginalised villages and communities in rural Africa.
His Archaeological Materials Laboratory is Africa’s only facility dedicated to the study of pyrotechnology practiced by farming communities of the last 2000 years in sub-Saharan Africa.
In this interview, he speaks about his research which revolves around understanding the past of peoples in Africa, using archaeology as one of the methods of studying this past, and his time in Oxford as an Association of Commonwealth Universities Fellow.
AfOx Steering Committee member and University of Oxford Alum Dr. Robtel Neajai Pailey has been awarded a prestigious Mo Ibrahim Leadership Fellowship.
Dr. Robtel Pailey, who is from Liberia, will be heading to the African Development bank for her fellowship. The fellowship which receives over 2000 applications and selects three future African Leaders and posts them to multinational organisations where they benefit from direct mentorship of the current leaders of these organisations.
Her core areas of research expertise include migration, citizenship, diasporas, transnationalism, conflict, post-war recovery, governance, and the political economy of aid, trade and remittances, all with respect to Africa. She has conducted multi-sited fieldwork in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Denmark, Ghana, Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, the UK and US. With over a decade of combined professional experiences in Africa, Europe and North America, she has worked across a broad range of fields supporting governments, universities, NGOs, media institutions, regional and multilateral organisations. She is also an activist and author of a children’s anti-corruption book titled Gbagba.
Robtel will be leaving her current post at the International Migration Institute (IMI) at the University of Oxford as senior researcher on the project ‘Migrants in Countries in Crisis’ which examines the migration implications of crises in six places – Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Lebanon, Libya, South Africa and Thailand.
Before joining IMI, SHE was a researcher at the Centre for Development Policy and Research, SOAS, as well as a graduate teaching assistant on the Migration & Development core course. Prior to that, she worked at the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, Republic of Liberia, first as a communications advisor and speechwriter to the President of Liberia and then as a migration and bilateral scholarships policymaker. During this time, she also served as an adjunct faculty member of the University of Liberia and Stella Maris Polytechnic.
The other 2017 Ibrahim Fellows are Ndapiwa Segole (Botswana) who will join UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and Oulimata Fall (Senegal) who will join International Trade Centre (ITC).
Kena Mphonda, Malawi High Commissioner to the United Kingdom met with the Africa Oxford Initiative team to discuss academic and research collaborations between academics in Malawi and their counterparts in the University of Oxford.
The meeting was a follow up to President Mutharika’s visit a month ago to the University during which discussions were held about strengthening research partnerships with Malawi.
Mr. Mphonda met with AfOx Director Prof Kevin Marsh, Program Coordinator Dr Anne Makena, and Communications Manager Kuukuwa Manful. Also present at the meeting was Norbert Nthala, a DPhil candidate in Computer Science, who researches security and holds a BSc. in Information Technology from the University of Malawi.
Apart from increasing and strengthening research partnerships, the meeting also discussed the allocation of Postgraduate scholarships from the government for Malawians to study in Oxford, the establishment of expert and advisory groups consisting of Malawians abroad as well as friends of Malawi.
Malawians in Oxford
There are currently 4 Malawian students studying in the university and there are 31 alumni in Malawi. There are also 2 Malawian academic staff who work with the University.
Oxford Research in Malawi
There is are strong Oxford research connections in Malawi especially in the area of health research with partnerships in various research areas including orthopaedic surgery, digital health, and health systems strengthening among others.
Dr Alison Ward, Assoc. Professor at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences was part of the international team of consultants for the FP7 Supporting Life programme – a €3M programme on child care in rural Malawi using diagnostic and mobile phone technology carried out in partnership with Mzuzu University and others.
Prof. Chris Lavy, Professor of Orthopaedic and Tropical Medicine at the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS) served as professor at the University Of Malawi College Of Medicine where he oversaw the setting up of The Beit CURE International Hospital, an orthopaedic teaching hospital and research centre in Malawi with a regional and international training scheme in orthopaedic surgery with the College of Surgeons of East Central and Southern Africa. He remains on the Council of the College and is Chairman of the Orthopaedic Fellowship exam.
Dr Anant Jani’s areas of research include value-based healthcare, and TB diagnostics, and has research partners in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Dr Richard Idro, Senior Clinical Research Paediatrician with the Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, is a consultant paediatrician and paediatric neurologist in Mulago hospital and an Honorary Lecturer in Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Uganda. He has research collaborations with the University of Malawi. Prof Andrew Farmer studies long-term chronic health conditions, and using digital health to deliver interventions and has collaborations with the Karonga Prevention Study and the Malawi Ministry of Health. Dr Richard Idro is a researcher in Clinical Neuroscience and Tropical Medicine and has collaborations at the University of Malawi.
Other University of Oxford academics with research projects in Malawi are Dr Sarah Rowland-Jones, Dr Sassy Molyneux, Prof Martin Maiden, Dr Vicki Marsh, Dr Susan Bull, Dr Patricia Kingori, Dr James Meiring, Prof. Calman MacLennan, Prof. Andrew Pollard, Dr Gail Carson and Dr Jenny MacLennan
Ndjodi M.L Ndeunyema, a Namibian MPhil Law candidate at Linacre College has been elected president of the Oxford University Africa Society for the 2017/18 academic year.
The Oxford University Africa Society (Afrisoc) is an official student club of the University of Oxford (registered through the Proctor‘s Office on an annual basis) with Prof. Dr. Raufu Mustapha, Associate Professor at the Department for International Development (Queen Elizabeth House) as its patron. It has focused on African affairs at the University of Oxford for over 50 years.
Past presidents include Rutendo Chigora, Melvyn Lubega and Dr Sebabatso Manoeli.
Ndjodi will proceed with a DPhil in Law at Oxford this winter – Michaelmas term. As president of Afrisoc, Ndjodi aims to realise the FOUR E pillars as reflected in his election manifesto for the Society.
Entrench: this is to ensure that the Society has a coherent legal framework that can be carried down to future Committees. Entrance: to increase opportunities for Africans to enter and access an Oxford education through by working together with key University stakeholders. Experience: to ensure that the Society’s membership has a positive intellectual and social experience as well as working towards any concerns of mental illness that may arise. Engage: The Society will build upon efforts to engage with Africa and African issues whilst in Oxford.
Ndjodi is grateful to previous Africa Society Committees which have worked tirelessly in cementing the Society and looks forward to the building upon this legacy.
Zeinab Badawi delves into the history of Africa for a brand new, nine-part series on BBC World News. The continent of Africa has a long, complex history, and its people built civilizations which rivalled those that existed anywhere else in the world. However, much of the continent’s history is not widely known, and what we are presented with often projects a distorted and partial picture. Sudan-born Zeinab travels to all four corners of Africa, interviewing African historians, archaeologists, and citizens whose accounts and stories paint a vivid picture of their continent’s past and how it informs their present lives. It is a series that will inform, educate and entertain – Africa’s history told by Africans themselves.
Episode 1: Mother Africa.
In the first episode Zeinab Badawi travels across the continent, examining the origins of humankind and how and why we evolved in Africa. During her journey Zeinab is granted rare access to the genuine bones of one of the most iconic discoveries in the field of palaeontology: Lucy in Ethiopia, or as she is known in Amharic ‘Dinkenesh’ – which means ‘you are marvellous’! Zeinab also spends time with a unique tribe in Tanzania, who provide insight into how we have lived, for most of our history, as hunter-gatherers. She also looks at what distinguishes us from the animal world and makes us human. Transmission Times: Sat 1st July 02:10 (Except North and Latin America), 15:10. Sun 2nd July 09:10, 21:10
Episode 2: Cattle, crops and Iron.
Zeinab Badawi continues her journey through the history of human development, travelling to meet the Masai of East Africa where she explains how humans began to domesticate animals and become pastoralists; in Zimbabwe, Zeinab visits one lively farming family and examines how we became settled and began to live from farming. She also looks at how the Iron Age transformed life in Africa and paved the way for the development of rich urban civilisations. Transmission Times: Sat 8th July 02:10 (Except North and Latin America), 15:10. Sun 9th July 09:10, 21:10
Episode 3: Gift of the Nile.
Zeinab Badawi’s quest to uncover the history of Africa takes her to Egypt, where she explores the most famous civilisation on the continent – the ancient Egyptians. Zeinab takes you beyond the usual coverage of the pharaohs and asks first who the ancient Egyptians actually were? What was their ethnicity? What made such a great civilisation possible? How did they order their society, and what were their values? Transmission Times: Sat 15th July 02:10 (Except North and Latin America), 15:10. Sun 16th July 09:10, 21:10
Episode 4: The Kingdom of Kush.
In the fourth episode, Zeinab Badawi travels to the country of her birth and the very region of her forefathers: northern Sudan, where she sheds light on a little know aspect of ancient African history: the Kingdom of Kush. Its kings ruled for many hundreds of years and indeed in the eighth century BC, they conquered and governed Egypt for the best part of 100 years. Furthermore Kush was an African superpower, its influence extended to the modern day Middle East. Zeinab shows you some of the best preserved of Sudan’s s 1,000 pyramids and explains how some of the customs of Kush have endured to this day. Transmission Times: Sat 22nd July 02:10 (Except North and Latin America), 15:10. Sun 23rd July 09:10, 21:10
Episode 5: The Rise of Aksum.
Zeinab Badawi travels to the little visited country of Eritrea and neighbouring Ethiopia, to chart the rise of the Kingdom of Aksum. Described as one of the four greatest civilisations of the ancient world, Zeinab examines archaeological remains in both countries dating from many hundreds of years before Christ. She explains how the Kings of Aksum grew rich and powerful from their control of the Red Sea trade and how they were one of the first civilisations that officially embraced Christianity in the 4th century. Also find out why the Queen of Sheba and the Sacred Ark of the Covenant are so critical to the story of Aksum. Transmission Times: Sat 29th July 02:10 (Except North and Latin America), 15:10. Sun 30th July 09:10, 21:10
Episode 6: Kings and Emirs.
In the sixth episode, Zeinab Badawi focuses on the fall of the kingdom of Aksum, and how the Christian kings that followed in Aksum’s wake left powerful legacies, especially that of King Lalibela. He is credited with building a complex of rock-hewn churches, which represent amazing feats of engineering. She also charts the arrival of Islam in this part of Africa and how the Christian kings and Muslim emirs co-existed. In the most Muslim of Ethiopia’s cities Harar: she observes the bizarre, long standing tradition of the Hyena Men of Harar. Transmission Times: Sat 5th Aug 02:10 (Except North and Latin America), 15:10. Sun 6th Aug 09:10, 21:10
Episode 7: North Africa.
In this episode, Zeinab Badawi’s exploration of Africa’s rich history focuses on North Africa. She goes to Morocco to find out about the original inhabitants of the region – in particular the Berbers or Amazigh – the best known of the people of North Africa. Zeinab visits Carthage in Tunisia and explains who the Carthaginians were. She looks at the great Berber kings and how they managed to retain their influence when North Africa came under Roman rule. Zeinab shows you some of the most extensive and least visited Roman sites in Algeria. Transmission Times: Sat 12th Aug 02:10 (Except North and Latin America), 15:10. Sun 13th Aug 09:10, 21:10
Episode 8: Ancestors, Spirits and religion.
In this episode, Zeinab Badawi examines religion in Africa. First the enduring presence of Africa’s indigenous ancestral religions, which millions of people on the continent still adhere to. She travels to Zimbabwe to find out more about a remote community that follows traditional African religion. In Senegal she meets a Muslim man who blends Islamic beliefs with his ancestral ones. She also charts the impact of Judaism and early Christianity in Africa and how Africans in particular made significant contributions to Christian thinking and practice. Transmission Times: Sat 19th Aug 02:10 (Except North and Latin America), 15:10. Sun 20th Aug 09:10, 21:10
Episode 9: Islam in Africa.
In the final episode Zeinab Badawi travels to several countries and looks at the early spread of Islam in Africa and how many Africans practise to this day a mystic, Sufi form of the religion. She shows how Arab culture came to influence a large part of the continent – particularly in the north. And she charts the rise of the powerful Islamic dynasties of North Africa, that built magnificent monuments, mosques and empires – including a part of southern Europe. Transmission Times: Sat 26th Aug 02:10 (Except North and Latin America), 15:10. Sun 27th Aug 09:10, 21:10
By Duncan Money, University of the Free State, International Studies Group
The day after Georg’s memorial seminar, I had lunch with a friend who had studied history at Oxford. Although this friend had never studied African history, when I told him the reason for my trip, he immediately recalled that Georg had spoken at his school well over a decade ago as part of a scheme to encourage and prepare state school students to apply to Oxford. The reason I mention this is that during the seminar, Georg’s many activities at the university, the History Faculty, St Cross College and in West Oxford (where he lived) were detailed, yet this still did not encompass the full range of things he was involved in as none of the speakers mentioned his outreach work.
The Transnational and Global History Seminar, who organised the event, sensibly limited the speakers to around ten minutes, allowing for members of the 50-strong audience to make their own contributions. The seminar was an informal one, as befitting Georg’s dislike of stuffiness and hierarchy, and an opportunity to reminiscence, to share memories, stories and talk about the influence on Georg had on our lives. All five speakers, of whom I was one, were former students of Georg: Festo Mkenda, Cassandra Thiesen-Mark, Casper Andersen, Amalia Ribi Forclaz and myself.
Each of us spoke of Georg’s unfailing generosity, his unselfish devotion to teaching, and how he encouraged, empowered and imparted a sense of purpose to his undergraduate and doctoral students. Cassandra Thiesen-Mark related how Georg had convinced her to stay in academia. Casper Andersen recounted that Georg was the first professor who took his work seriously. Stories of Georg’s goodwill abounded at the seminar and over drinks afterwards. Someone told me afterwards that Georg gave them the single best piece of advice they had ever received in their career, someone else that he was the person who made them feel most welcome and at home in the university.
Colleagues from the History Faculty, and other departments, offered similar tributes about Georg’s generosity, scholarship, the astonishing breadth of his knowledge and continual willingness to take on students. Georg was an outsized presence in the History Faculty, promoting the study of African history virtually single-handed and encouraging oral history. He taught papers and supervised dissertations covering two centuries of history for an entire continent. African history should have been marginal at Oxford, Georg ensured it was not.
This is Georg’s legacy at the university and a memorial fund has been established to provide support for students of African history through scholarships and hardship assistance. This legacy is also assured in another way. Georg amassed a vast collection of books, far too large for his modest office where the shelving practically groaned under the weight of the accumulated material. This library is now on its way to Nairobi to its new home at the Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa, which is headed by Festo Mkenda, where it will be accessible to current and future generations of scholars in East Africa. A fitting tribute.
Guest post on The Global Anticorruption Blog by Dr. Elizabeth Dávid-Barrett, featuring a project with Balázs Szendrői
The analysis of big datasets to find evidence of corruption – for example, the method developed by Mihály Fazekas to identify “red flags” of corruption risks in procurement contract data—requires statistical skills and software, both of which are in short supply in many parts of the developing world, such as sub-Saharan Africa.
Yet some ambitious recent initiatives are trying to address this problem. Lately I’ve had the privilege to be involved in one such initiative, led by Oxford mathematician Balázs Szendrői, that helps empower a group of young African mathematicians to analyse “big data” on public corruption.
The first step in this project was to develop software; this may seem trivial, but many cash-strapped African universities simply don’t have the resources to purchase the latest statistical software packages. The African Maths Initiative (AMI), a Kenyan NGO that works to create a stronger mathematical community and culture of mathematics across Africa, has helped to solve this problem by developing a new open-source program, R-Instat (which builds on the popular but difficult-to-learn statistics package R), funded through crowd-sourcing. Still in development, it is on track for launch in July this year. AMI has also helped develop a menu on R-Instat that can be used specifically for analysing procurement data and identifying corruption risk indicators.
Together with Dr Georgina Humphreys, her collaborator at the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network, based at the University of Oxford, Dr Sumari is working on a project to map molecular markers of antimalarial drug resistance in Tanzania.
Deborah Sumari is a molecular biologist and Research Scientist in the Intervention and Clinical Trials department, IHI. Her research has included studies on drug resistant genotypes of P.falciparum parasites that contributed to the withdrawal of SP as a first line therapy in Tanzania.
Antimalarial drug resistance is one of the biggest threats to the treatment and control of malaria, with resistance now confirmed to all currently available antimalarials although critically resistance to the most pivotal artemisinins has not yet reached Africa but is currently confined to the Greater Mekong Subregion. New approaches, knowledge and skills-sharing are urgently needed to advance malaria control in Tanzania.