Universities in Africa to gain from 59 African-born scholars based in the USA and Canada

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A total of 59 African-born scholars based in the United States and Canada have been selected to join universities in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda to work on academic projects with their peers as part of the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program or CADFP.

According to Dr Paul Zeleza, CADFP chair and vice-chancellor of the United States International University-Africa, or USIU-Africa, in Nairobi, Kenya, the programme’s advisory board has also selected 41 African universities to host the fellows based on collaborative project proposals submitted by the universities.

“The visiting fellows will work with their hosts on a range of projects across disciplines that include, but are not limited to, research methods, agroforestry, development of e-learning modules, special education, nursing, curriculum development, music and academic writing,” said Zeleza.

Now in its third year, CADFP is designed to alleviate Africa’s academic brain drain, build capacity at host institutions and develop long-term, mutually beneficial collaborations between universities in Africa and the United States and Canada.

The programme is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and managed by the Institute of International Education in collaboration with USIU-Africa, which houses the secretariat. Visiting fellows remain at the host institution for 14 to 90 days.

Some of the fellows

This year Telex Ngatched Nkouatchah, a Cameroonian professor of electrical engineering at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, will be hosted at Kabale University in Uganda where he will collaborate with lecturer Paul Wanjoli to develop a curriculum for a new bachelor of science degree in electronics and telecommunications engineering.

At the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, Dr Gnanambal Charmaine Naidoo, an assistant professor of biology at Langston University in Oklahoma, USA, will work in partnership with Mark Laing, a professor of biology and director of the African Centre for Crop Improvement, to develop a curriculum in plant pathology and an international agricultural experiential programme.

Diaspora scholar Dr Paddington Hodza, a remote sensing scientist at the Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center at Wyoming University in the US, will team up with Professor Serena Coetzee of the Centre for Geoinformation Science at the University of Pretoria in South Africa to embark on a project seeking a sustainable application for geographical information science.

According to Sharon Witherell, Institute of International Education director of public affairs, a group of livestock scientists will travel to the University of Nairobi in Kenya to focus on building capacity in animal genetics and genomics and will be hosted by Dr William Ogara of the department of veterinary medicine.

They include Dr Wondwossen Abebe Gebreyes, an Ethiopian national currently teaching at Ohio State University, Dr Romdhane Rekaya, a Tunisian specialist in animal science teaching at the University of Georgia, and his colleague Dr Samuel Aggrey, a Ghanaian poultry specialist.

“Specifically, the group will concentrate on developing certificate and masters programmes and expanding joint research, as well as teaching a regional postgraduate course for scientists from East and Central Africa,” said Witherell in a press statement.

Reached for comment, Ogara said the three scholars will also help in developing integrated computer software for laboratory use. “We shall also develop strategies for improving the use of mobile livestock health technology,” Ogara told University World News.

Diversity of projects

Projects identified by diaspora scholars and their hosts include research methods, mentoring of postgraduate students and curriculum development.

Two private universities in Nairobi – KCA University and Africa Nazarene University – will jointly host academic Wakiuru Wamwara – originally from Kenya and now a professor of marketing based at Wright State University in Ohio.

Wamwara will hold seminars on research methodology and develop modules to train early career faculty on how to mentor graduate students. Her hosts will be Dr Rose Karima of Africa Nazarene University and Dr Renson Mwangi of KCA University.

Professor Samuel Zalanga, an anthropologist at Bethel University in Minnesota, will return to his alma mater, the University of Jos in Nigeria, to collaborate with Ezekiel Olumodeji, a professor of sociology, to train and mentor postgraduate students on how to produce quality masters and PhD dissertations.

“The two professors will also hold a postgraduate seminar on linkages in systems theory and knowledge of the social sciences,” said CADFP coordinator Everlyn Anyal Musa in an interview in Nairobi.

There is great diversity in the projects to be conducted by the diaspora scholars.

For example Adeniyi Coker, a Nigerian professor of theatre arts at the University of Missouri in St Louis, will spend three months at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa to complete the staging of an original musical he is producing based on the life of Miriam Makeba.

The musical “Zenzi” is scheduled to premiere at the Cape Town university soon and in the United States in September in honour of Makeba, the South African singer and civil rights activist popularly known as Mama Africa across the continent.

Dr Wandia Njoya, a lecturer at Daystar University in Nairobi, will host Jean Kidula, a returning Kenyan scholar who is an associate professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Georgia. The two academics will collaborate on a project hinged on strengthening the music curriculum and mentoring students at Daystar University.

More opportunities available

CADFP is urging universities in eligible host countries – Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda – to submit project requests for African diaspora fellows from 1 May to 5 July.

“Successful universities will be able to receive diaspora fellows from December this year, and African-born academics residing in the United States or Canada are requested to apply any time and they will be systematically matched with accepted projects on a rolling basis,” said Witherell.