Joint call with the Africa Research Excellence Fund
There is a need to provide aspiring African researchers the necessary tools for development in the form of structured mentorship support and stimulating research challenges. Such support can best be provided to early postdoctoral researchers by well-resourced and established institutions. Africa accounts for 15-20% of the world’s population and a disproportionately large share of disease burden, yet scientific publications by African researchers account for less than 2% of the total academic journal output*. As a result, it is imperative to enable African researchers to enhance their competitiveness for international funding opportunities early in their careers while retaining them in Africa, working on Africa’s health challenges and priorities.
October has shone a light on illegal wildlife trade.
Last week the UK government hosted an international conference about the illegal wildlife trade, the conference brought together global leaders to discuss solutions to eradicate illegal wildlife trade and better protect the world’s most iconic species from the threat of extinction.
We at Oxford also got involved with the discussion this week at the Oxford Martin School with our AfOx travel grant recipients. Our travelling academics shared their research:
1. Edson Gandiwa (Chinhoyi University of Technology – Zimbabwe). Professor of Wildlife Conservation and Ecology. Protected area management.
We are delighted to announce the second cohort of Africa Oxford Initiative (AfOx) Visiting Fellows at the University of Oxford. The number of fellows this year is 13, building up on the 3 fellowships we offered in our inaugural call in 2017, and to meet the overwhelming demand and high quality of applications.
The 2018 AfOx Visiting Fellows are: Dr. Augustina Adusah-Karikari (Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration), Dr. Abdelrazek Bedir Abdelrazzak Ahmed (National Research Centre, Egypt), Prof Abi Alabo Derefaka (University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria), Dr Seifu Kebede (Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia), Dr. Benta A. Abuya (African Population and Health Research Center, Kenya), Dr Tongai Maponga (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa), Dr Itai Magodoro (University of Cape Town, South Africa), Dr Nicola de Jager (Stellenbosch University, South Africa), Dr Caesar Atuire (University of Ghana), Dr. Amos Olalekan Abolaji (University of Ibadan, Nigeria), Prof Abdulkader Tayob (University of Cape Town, South Africa), Dr Amina Abubakar (KEMRI-WTRP, Kenya) and Dr. Christine Nalwadda Kayemba (Makerere University, Uganda).
The AfOx Visiting Fellowship Program was set up to foster research and teaching excellence, as well as to facilitate sustainable collaborations between academics at The University of Oxford and in African Institutions. Academics working in any African institute are eligible, and the calls for fellows have drawn over 450 applications from across Africa. We are grateful to St Edmund Hall, Christ Church College and St. Peter’s College – who are with us for the second year running, and to All Souls College, Brasenose College, Hertford College, Jesus College, Oriel College, Mansfield College, Pembroke College, St. Antony’s College and Somerville College for partnering with us to host the fellows this year.
ABOUT THE 2018 AFOX VISITING FELLOWS
Dr Augustina Adusah-Karikari
Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, Ghana
Dr Adusah-Karikari is a Senior Lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration where she teaches Public Administration, Public Sector Management, Qualitative Research Methods, Philosophy of Research, Ethics and Social Responsibility, and Gender and Development. She is Head of Liberal Arts Department. She was a Newton International Fellow at the University of Birmingham, UK from 2013 to 2015. Her research interests are in gender and public administration in developing world contexts, gender and extractive industries and ethics, and management in public sector. Her work has appeared in journals such as the International Journal of Public Administration and the Journal of Public Administration and Development. She has facilitated various training programs in management development in Ghana’s public sector organisations and is Lead Facilitator of the Gender and Diversity Module on the Young African Leaders Initiative West Africa. She holds a PhD in Educational Studies, Master of Public Administration (MPA) and Master of Arts in International Affairs from Ohio University, USA and a BA Hons (Secretaryship) from the University of Cape-Coast, Ghana.
Dr Tongai Maponga
University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
Dr Tongai Maponga is currently a post-doctoral research fellow in the Division of Medical Virology at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. He trained as a medical laboratory scientist at the University of Zimbabwe and completed his Masters and PhD studies in Medical Virology at Stellenbosch University. His research interests include viral hepatitis and its associated sequelae.
Dr Christine Nalwadda Kayemba
Makerere University, Uganda
Dr. Christine Nalwadda Kayemba is a PhD graduate in Public Health of Makerere University and Karolinska Institutet. She is a Lecturer at the Department of Community Health and Behavioural Sciences, School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, involved in research, teaching and supervision of graduate students. Her research areas of interest include maternal and newborn health, and health systems.
Dr Caesar Atuire
University of Ghana
Dr Caesar Atuire joined the University of Ghana in January 2014 as a Lecturer at the Department of Philosophy and Classics. He began his university education in Civil Engineering at the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (London). He branched off to Philosophy and obtained a BA (summa cum laude) in 1992. He earned a Licentia Philosophiae from the Gregorian University (Rome) in 1994. In 2005, he obtained a PhD in Philosophy with ‘An Enquiry into Suicide’ at the Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum (Rome). Dr Atuire also holds a Master’s degree in Theology and Diplomas in Bioethics and Pedagogical Sciences.
Dr Atuire is currently leading the project to establish the West African Multi-Disciplinary Bioethics Centre at the University of Ghana. During the AfOx Fellowship he will be working with the Oxford team of the NeuroGenE project, the Oxford Global Initiative on the Ethics of Psychiatric Genomics, to research into the empirical, theoretical and normative frameworks of Ghanaian attitudes towards mental health, personhood, and psychospiritual cures.
Dr Abdelrazek Bedir Abdelrazzak Ahmed
National Research Centre, Egypt
Dr Abdelrazek Bedir Abdelrazzak Ahmed is a researcher at the National Research Centre, Egypt. He has earned his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Biophysics from Mansoura University, Egypt and D.Phil. in Radiobiology from University of Oxford, UK. His research Interest is in studying the effects of low-dose ionizing radiation and the associated phenomena of Bystander effect and Adaptive response. He is also interested in studying the modulation intercellular communication by ionizing radiation.
D. Benta A. Abuya
African Population and Health Research Center, Kenya
Dr Benta A. Abuya is a Research Scientist at the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC). Benta is the Principal Investigator and Project Manager of the project, Advancing learning outcomes for transformational change in the urban informal settlements (January 2016-2018). Between January 2013-March, 2016, Benta was the PI and Project Manager for the project, Improving learning outcomes and transition to secondary school through community participation and afterschool support. Benta is also a co-PI on the Adolescent girls initiative-Kenya, a DFID funded project. In 2010, she graduated with a Dual Title PhD in Education Theory and Policy and Comparative and International Education, with a minor in Demography from the College of Education at the Pennsylvania State University. She also holds a Master of Arts in Populations Studies from Nairobi University and a Bachelor of Education (Hons) Upper Division from Moi University, Eldoret. Benta is a Ford Foundation International Fellow, a Policy Communication fellow, with Population Reference Bureau (PRB), and a Compton Foundation and PRB Reproductive Health Fellow. Currently Benta is a PI of the Regional Education Learning Initiative (RELI), a learning initiative that brings together about 50 education grantees in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and DRC.
Dr Itai Magodoro
University of Cape Town, South Africa
Dr Magodoro is an early career investigator in global health with an interest in the interplay between cardiovascular diseases and HIV. Specifically, his research aims to better understand the early development of HIV-related heart failure in young people in sub-Saharan Africa. A native of Zimbabwe, his work is presently based in South Africa and Uganda. He received his medical training in Malawi, and he holds masters` degrees from Harvard Medical School, USA, and Stellenbosch University, South Africa. He has also undertaken advanced epidemiology training in The Netherlands and France. Itai presently holds a Fogarty Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA, by which he is furthering his global health research. He is jointly a research fellow/scientist in the Division of Cardiology, University of Cape Town, South Africa, and the Center for Global Health, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA. Dr. Magodoro is also a visiting scholar in the Department of Global Health and Population in the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Through this visiting fellowship at Oxford, Itai will be joining Prof. Leeson`s Preventive Cardiology Research Group in the Radcliffe Department of Medicine, where he hopes, in addition to building long-term collaborations between the Leeson group and his University of Cape Town group, to learn novel methods and techniques to identify and prevent heart disease in young people.
Prof Abi Alabo Derefaka
University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Professor Abi Alabo Derefaka, who attended King’s College Lagos, is an Archaeologist with a B.A. Second Class Upper Degree in History from the University of Lagos(John F. Kennedy Scholar); an M.A. from Indiana University (on an ITT through IIE Fellowship); and a PhD from the University of Port Harcourt, has taught in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Ibadan and is currently teaching in the Department of History and Diplomatic Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Choba, Port Harcourt. He has been Director of the University of Port Harcourt Museum. He is also currently the Director, Institute of Niger Delta Studies, University of Port Harcourt and has been a Member, Governing Board, National Commission for Museums and Monuments and a Member, Board of West African Museums Programme. He is a Fellow of the Archaeological Association of Nigeria, Member Nigerian Academy of Letters, Member World Archaeological Congress, and Member Historical Society of Nigeria. He has published widely in learned Journals and has several chapters in books. He has also written and edited a number of books. Professor Derefaka is married to Mrs Ibiwari Derefaka and they have three children. He hails from Ogu in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria.
Dr Seifu Kebede
Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
Dr Seifu Kebede is a hydrogeologist and Associate Professor of Hydrogeology based in Addis Ababa University and authors more than 35 peer reviewed scientific articles and a book entitled ‘Groundwater in Ethiopia: features, numbers and opportunities’. He is involved in research related to the multifaceted dimensions of groundwater (rural water supply, groundwater irrigation, groundwater and health, isotope and geochemistry application for water resources mapping, household water economy and groundwater role in economic growth and development). Currently and recently he is involved in the following groundwater projects: Climate Risk Screening for Rural Water Supply in Rural Ethiopia (ODI-DFID project); A technical assistant study on Groundwater Development and Management for Ethiopia (World Bank); Capacity building for drought mitigation (UNESCO-Addis Ababa); UPGro’s Hidden Crisis research consortium; Developing Adaptive Water Resources Management Strategy for Ethiopia (SCIP-DFID funded); REACH: Improving water security for the poor (DFID funded Oxford University led project). He has been involved in international expert missions (eg Kenya, Sierra Leone, Morocco, Tunisa, Lesotho, Malawi, Uganda), such as for the International Atomic Energy Agency mainly related to isotope hydrology and project management in groundwater sector.
Dr Nicola de Jager
Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Dr Nicola de Jager (PhD Political Science) is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Political Science at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. She is also a Research Associate of the Transformation Research Unit (TRU) and heads its Southern African research team. TRU is an international research unit investigating and comparing democratic processes across the globe. She is editor of South African Politics: An Introduction (2015) published by Oxford University Press and co-editor with Pierre du Toit of Friend or Foe? Dominant party systems in southern Africa (2013) published by the University of Cape Town Press. Research interests and article publications include topics on religion and politics, democratisation and Southern African politics.
Dr Amos Olalekan Abolaji
University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Dr Amos Olalekan Abolaji is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He obtained B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Biochemistry from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, University of Lagos, Lagos and University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria respectively. He is currently researching the mechanisms by which environmental toxins contribute to the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases and female reproductive dysfunctions using mammalian and D. melanogaster models. He is the secretary of African Society of Drosophilists and a collaborator of DrosAfrica Trust. Dr Abolaji is a recipient of several awards including TWAS-CNPq Postdoctoral Fellowship. He is a member of Society of Toxicology, Society For Redox Biology and Medicine and European Teratology Society.
Prof Abdulkader Tayob
University of Cape Town, South Africa
Professor Abdulkader Tayob is Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Cape Town. He obtained his doctoral degree in 1989 from Temple University in the United States. He has worked and published on Islam in South Africa, Africa and on the discourse of contemporary Islam. His recent books on Education (2011), Modern Islam (2009) and a collaborate translation of an early historical text (2011), add to his earlier books on Islam in South Africa. In addition, he has to his name numerous articles and book chapters. His current projects focus on the life trajectories of Religion Education teachers in South Africa, and on aesthetics and ethics in the Qur’an.
Dr Amina Abubakar
Pwani University and the Kenya Medical Research Institute/Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya
Dr Amina Abubakar is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Public Health at Pwani University, Kenya and a Senior Research Fellow at the Kenya Medical Research Institute/Wellcome Trust Research Programme. Her substantive work has focused on the adverse impacts of a range of health conditions on young people’s neurocognition and mental health. She is interested in developing culturally appropriate and contextually relevant approaches for identifying, monitoring and rehabilitating at risk children.
The 2018 CSAE Conference featured more than 300 presentations in 106 sessions over 3 days. Held at St Catherine’s College, Oxford various researchers converged from Europe, Africa and other places to present new research on issues relating to African economies.
The Chief Economist of DFID, Rachel Glennerster gave the Keynote Speech titled ‘Using evidence to inform policy’ in which she exhorted economists to draw on a rich variety of multiple studies and data sources to inform theory-driven policy recommendations.
The CSAE Visiting Fellowship 2019 was also launched during the conference. It is open to citizens of all countries in Africa, and supports a two month residency in Oxford, including flights, accommodation, and a small stipend. It will be held during January to March 2019, and successful applicants will work on a specific piece of work during the Oxford University term, attend seminars and the CSAE conference.
The Africa Oxford Initiative (AfOx), seeks to appoint visiting fellows from universities and research institutions in Africa at partner colleges in The University of Oxford.
The fellowship aims to facilitate collaboration, as well as to foster research and teaching excellence in African institutions and in The University of Oxford. The fellowship is for a duration of 4-6 weeks, to be taken up from July to September, 2018.
Fellows will be provided with accommodation, meals and temporary membership of Senior Common Rooms at their host colleges for the period of residency. The fellowship will also include airfare, visa fees and a maintenance allowance.
Applicants should be legal residents of an African country, holding an appointment in an academic or research institution in an African country. They may already have established links with an Oxford collaborator or, alternatively, can search the AfOx database for potential collaborators and contact them before making the application.
The Africa Oxford Initiative (AfOx), in association with St Edmund Hall, Christ Church College and St. Peter’s College has appointed three visiting Fellows from African universities under its first AfOx Visiting Scholars Programme (AVSP). The inaugural AfOx visiting scholars are Dr Elima Jedy-Agba from Nigeria, Prof Gerald Mazarire from Zimbabwe, and Dr David Ssevviiri from Uganda.
The AVSP was set up to facilitate collaborations between academics at The University of Oxford and selected fellows, as well as to foster research and teaching excellence in research and academic institutions. Academics working in any African institute are eligible for the programme, and the first call drew over 350 applications.
Dr Anne Makena, the Program Coordinator of AfOx, said the Initiative is very excited to welcome the 2017 AfOx Visiting Scholars and believes that their experience will be both intellectually engaging and impactful – for Oxford and their home institutions.
“We had an overwhelming and fantastic response, meaning the demand for such a program is very high. Most of the applications were great, and about a third of them were quite exceptional. It was disheartening to have to turn away some of these excellent applicants and we have therefore been working towards finding other ways to support these brilliant academics.”
“In addition, we have secured more positions for the next cohort of the AVSP, in the hope that we meet more of the demand.”
THE AFOX VISITING SCHOLARS
Dr. Elima Jedy-Agba MBBCH, MSc. PhD. is a research fellow and coordinator of the International Research Centre of Excellence (IRCE) at the Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria. She has a first degree in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Calabar, Nigeria, a Master’s degree in Public Health and a PhD in Epidemiology and Population Health, both from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom.
She is a World Cancer Research Fund International Fellow and a 50 for 50 fellow of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Her research interests include cancer registration and epidemiology with specific focus on breast cancer and HIV associated cancers in sub-Saharan Africa. At the University of Oxford, her research fellowship will focus on trends in cervical cancer incidence and prevalence and projecting the future burden of cervical cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr. Jedy-Agba will be based at Christ Church College and aims to use her time in Oxford under the AVSP to foster collaborations between the IRCE IHVN and the University of Oxford’s Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit (CTSU) of the Nuffield department of Population Health. Her research proposal will focus on ‘Trends and Projections in Cervical Cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa’ and this will be done in collaboration with Prof. Donald Maxwell Parkin and Prof. Dame Valerie Beral of CTSU- Nuffield Department of population Health in Oxford. She hopes this research project could yield potentially important contributions to the literature in cancer research in developing countries and set the foundation for more future research collaborations.
Prof. Gerald Chikozho Mazarire is an Associate Professor in the History Department of the Midlands State University in Gweru, Zimbabwe. He holds a DPhil in History from the University of Zimbabwe. His research interests are on Zimbabwe, pre-colonial communities, liberation movements and the state. He was admitted as a Fellow of the American Council for Learned Societies in the African Humanities Programme in October 2013. He has various research and academic responsibilities which include being Editor of the journal Critical African Studies; Editorial Board Member of the Kronos: Journal of Southern African History, and the Oxford Research Encyclopedia on African History: Oxford University Press amongst others.
While in Oxford at St Peter’s College on the AVSP, Prof. Mazarire looks to strengthen collaborative efforts with various Oxford University researchers and academics which include Prof. Jocelyn Alexander – with whom he is organizing a Journal of Southern African Studies sponsored conference on the ‘International Connections of African Liberation Movements’ to be held in 2018. Also Prof. Gerald Mazarire hopes to continue close collaborations with Dr. Miles Tendi. He also hopes to gain access to various literature on Zimbabwe’s political history found at Rhodes House, the Bodleian Library and portal systems of various Oxford Libraries.
Dr. David Ssevviiri is a Departmental Head of Mathematics at Makerere University in Uganda, and overall coordinator of the Eastern Africa Universities Mathematics Programme. He is a Senior Lecturer and an active researcher in the area of algebra. However, he also has research interests in algebraic geometry and representation theory of finite dimensional algebras. He holds a PhD in Mathematics from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Univeristy (NMMU) in South Africa. He also holds a BSc Ed in Mathematics and Chemistry, an MSc in Mathematics from Makerere University; and an MSc in Mathematics Cum-Laude from NMMU.
In Oxford Dr. Ssevviiri will be based at St Peter’s College and will conduct research on Local cohomology and cousin complexes, and advance research relations between the Oxford School of Mathematics and Makerere University’s Department of Mathematics. He will be hosted by Prof. Yakov Kremnitzer at the Oxford Mathematical Institute.
The Department of International Relations, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria and the Department of International Development, University of Oxford are pleased to invite applications from early career academics and advanced graduate students in the social sciences and humanities for a two-day research and training workshop on ‘New Research in Nigeria’. This workshop is aimed at those who are either affiliated to a university in Nigeria or doing research on Nigeria.
The New Research in Nigeria Day (NRD) has been held annually in the UK since 2009. Its goal has been to bring together scholars conducting exciting new work on the various aspects of Nigeria’s political, economic and social life. At the 2016 edition held at the University of Oxford and co-sponsored by St Antony’s College and the Department of International Development, it was suggested that the event be taken to Nigeria as a way of establishing links with Nigerian colleagues and expanding the range of voices that can contribute to our collaborations. At heart therefore, the agenda of this workshop is to establish a collaborative social science network between UK based Academics working on Nigeria, and Nigeria based early career researchers.
The workshop will feature research presentations that creatively bring together thematic issues pertinent to Nigerian affairs as well as provide training on publishing in high impact journals, applying for research grants, and tracking research impact. Participants from all of the social sciences and humanities disciplines are welcome and we expect to select up to 40 people.
How to apply
Interested participants are requested to send a 2-page summary of their current research which should include information about key arguments, methodology, theoretical approach
and location in the literature, by midnight of 19 August, 2017. This should be sent to email@example.com
If you have questions, please contact Dr. Akin Iwilade through firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to a generous grant from the Africa Oxford Initiative, we are pleased to note that participation costs (accommodation, meals and a small local travel stipend) will be covered by the organizers. Please note that no per-diem will be paid and that the travel stipend will be pre-calculated by organizers.
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.
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