Partnerships spawned in West Africa

28 November 2011

While in Nigeria, the UCT group paused for a picture with colleagues and friendsTravels abroad: While in Nigeria, the UCT group paused for a picture with colleagues and friends. In picture (from left) are Dr Aubrey Mainza (UCT); Assoc Prof Harry Garuba (UCT); Mwenya Kabwe (UCT); Dr Jemima Asabea Anderson and Assoc Prof Nana Aba Appiah Amfo of the University of Ibadan; DVC Prof Thandabantu Nhlapo; and an unknown guest of the Ibadan hosts.

UCT's Afropolitan aspirations took a fresh, young, new turn over a recent trip to Ghana and Nigeria.

Deputy vice-chancellor Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo, Associate Professor Harry Garuba of the Centre for African Studies, Mwenya Kabwe of the Department of Drama and Dr Aubrey Mainza of the Department of Chemical Engineering made up the delegation to the Universities of Ghana and Ibadan, respectively. The aim of the trip, explained Nhlapo, was to start up and, in a couple of cases, cement existing collaborations.

The inclusion of relatively younger academic staff - lecturers and senior lecturers - was deliberate, he added.

"It stems from a wish to begin the implementation of an important component of the Afropolitan vision - namely, supporting new collaborative relationships across the continent and deepening existing ones, while assisting younger scholars to acquire the capital that comes with academic networking across borders."

The travellers had a packed itinerary. Garuba discussed shared curricula offerings, and joint conferences and other meetings. (His conference on Thinking Africa and the African Diaspora Differently, planned for December, piqued interest.) Kabwe conferred on similar collaborations with counterparts from the School of Performing Arts at the University of Ghana to build on an already existing relationship. Mainza talked geological data and minerals processing models with delegates from the Ghana and Ibadan universities, a collaboration that could soon include even more institutions and disciplines. And Nhlapo explored opportunities for joint research on malaria and other diseases of poverty.

The trip has spurred countless new partnerships and networks, reports Nhlapo.

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