Happy Africa Day!


Since 1963, Africa Day is celebrated both in Africa and around the world, mostly on May 25th. This year the theme is “The year of Nelson Mandela: Civil Society Dialogue with African Migrants”.

The Organisation of African Unity (OAU), (which became the African Union (AU) in 2001) was formed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where over thirty African nations came together with the aim to influence the decolonization of African countries including Angola, South Africa, Mozambique, and Southern Rhodesia. The organisation covenanted to support freedom fighters and remove military access to colonial nations, and a charter was established to improve the livelihood of member states across Africa. South Africa only became part of the Organisation of the African Union (OAU) in 1994 following the end of Apartheid rule.

In recognition of all things African on this special day, a round up of news from around the countinent.

Diaspora fellows head back to Africa for joint research

The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program (CADFP) has selected 43 African universities in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda to host 55 African-born scholars to build partnerships between home and host universities and address priority needs in host universities and countries.

The visiting fellows will work with their hosts for up to three months on a wide range of selected projects. Many of them have paired up with scholars from their home countries to apply for the fellowships funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and managed jointly by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa) in Nairobi.

In addition to working on the collaborative projects proposed by their host universities, the fellowship visits will include conference participation to present impacts of past joint research projects funded under previous calls.

The project has at the same time issued a call to universities and prospective fellows for applications for the next round of grants which opened on 1 May 2018, with a 6 July deadline. For the upcoming grant cycle, priority themes include science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM), and sustainable cities and communities. Read more on this story on the University World News site

Nigerian universities’ vexing sex-for-marks phenomenon

In the latest sex-for-marks scandal a senior academic has been suspended from his post pending the conclusion of a disciplinary hearing against him.The case has highlighted not only the prevalence of the problem, but the difficulty in addressing it in Nigerian universities. The National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, described the ‘sex-for-marks’ phenomenon as unethical, immoral and against the rules and regulations of the union. While there is a need for action, things are not always clear cut and easy to deal with.

Dr Ibrahim Awele from the University of Benin has stated that  the scandals reflected a “general cultural decay” in Nigerian society where women were “articles and merchandise for exchange”. “Some female students hardly attend lectures and at the end of the day they want to obtain good marks via sexual intercourse with some weak lecturers,” he said.

While on the other hand, Ngozi Illoh, also at the University of Benin, said as a lecturer she had frequently intervened on behalf of female students claiming to have been sexually harassed by male lecturers. “Often, female students are blamed for sexually harassing the male lecturers through their dress but many male lecturers simply want to ‘conquer’ and ‘boast’ about how many girls they have succeeded in ‘tasting’. – Read the full story on the University World News site

ARUA launches first centre of excellence

The African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) has launched the first of 13 ‘centres of excellence’ – with this centre focused on inequality – at an event held at the University of Cape Town’s School of Economics. The African Centre of Excellence for Inequalities Research (ACEIR) aims to understand the drivers and consequences of inequality in Africa.

According to an ARUA statement, Africa’s inequality dynamics are a key global issue, particularly given the fact that over the next 30 years the continent’s population will make up a rapidly rising share of the world’s population. The centre will enhance the quality of relevant data on inequalities across and within African nations. ARUA is a network of 16 of Africa’s leading universities with a common vision to expand and enhance the quality of research done in Africa by African researchers. – Read the article on the University World News Site

How Mandarin is conquering Africa

Since it began in 2004, China’s Confucius Institute programme has opened of hundreds of centres worldwide to promote and teach Chinese language and culture and to facilitate exchange programmes.

More than 50 such centres have opened across Africa, including many South African universities. The Confucius Institute in Dakar was funded by the Chinese government at a cost of $2.5 million and now hosts 500 students. Beijing also pays for the running costs and all classes are subsidised. The institute’s director, Asian history professor Mamadou Fallm, complains that Senegalese students nowadays find it impossible to get visas to study in Europe or the US. The Chinese government, on the other hand, has eased visa requirements, and each year it funds scholarships for 50 of the best students from the Confucius Institute to study Mandarin at Chinese universities.

The popularity of Chinese language learning has increased in recent years across Africa. Evidence suggests ambitious young Africans are increasingly inclined to take up Mandarin as a way to land a dream a job in China or benefit from China’s growing influence on the continent.

Not everyone is pleased by the rapid spread of Confucius Institutes though. Concerns have been expressed in the United States that the institutes are being used to spread Chinese propaganda. This month, the state government of New South Wales in Australia said it was “reviewing” a Confucius Institute programme teaching Mandarin to schoolchildren amid concern it was espousing Chinese ideology. China has also been accused of cultivating quasi-colonial relations with African nations – including Senegal.

– Read the complete article on the South China Morning Post site.