African Science & Education Ministers Want More PhD Holders
By Dipo Olowookere
The Next Einstein Forum (NEF) and the Government of Rwanda yesterday hosted the second NEF Ministerial Meeting to leverage research networks and funding mechanisms to drive Africa’s long term progress.
Under the theme, ‘Collaborative Global Research Networks: Implementing Essential Actions’, the meeting reviewed three important themes arising from the first ministerial meeting held in Dakar, Senegal in March 2016.
The issues deliberated upon were increasing the number of PhDs, creating and structuring the Africa Research Chair Initiative (ARCI) and developing mechanisms to harness research mobility within Africa.
The NEF Ministerial Meeting is held every six months to review progress from recommendations arising at each meeting and propose concrete initiatives developed from global best practices and local contextual experiences and challenges.
The team thanked the delegations from Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and hosts Rwanda for participating in the important discussions.
“The NEF will review recommendations arising from this meeting and propose a concrete road map. We believe innovation led transformation in Africa cannot be sustainable outside of research, and we’re working with African governments, learning institutions and the private sector to accelerate research collaboration and funding in critical scientific and technological fields,” said Mr Thierry Zomahoun, NEF Chair and President and CEO of AIMS.
According to Rwanda’s Minister of Education, Dr Papias Musafiri, “Rwanda is happy to have hosted this important meeting that seeks to concretize Rwanda’s and Africa’s ambitions to leverage research and development to improve people’s lives.
“Some of the initiatives proposed will increase research collaboration & improve funding mechanisms making it possible to improve the pipeline of researchers and globally competitive innovations coming from Africa. We look forward to seeing concrete outcomes implemented.”
During the meeting, participants agreed to increase the annual rate of PhD holders, stressing that each African country must roll out a comprehensive evaluation and analysis of the number of PhDs in every field – identifying strengths and weaknesses of national PhD systems including design and mobility.
Participants also called for the establishment of a pan-African pool of researchers and delegates insisted that while increasing the number of STEM doctorates is critical for innovation, social sciences and humanities must not be overlooked.
Also on the establishment of an African Research Chair Initiative, the forum noted that the process establishing research chair initiatives must be managed country by country, cognizant of each country’s capabilities and progress.
In addition, it said research chair initiatives must build a pipeline of young researchers benefiting from such initiatives. The next meeting will review this further, identifying collaboration mechanisms for existing initiatives, as well as filling gaps with new national and regional initiatives.
On increasing continental research mobility, participants agreed that there is a need to form a consortium that includes various African and global institutions, especially the private sector that would design and fund mechanisms to increase mobility among African researchers living in Africa and the diaspora.
This consortium would also work to highlight opportunities in each country, as well as foster international research collaborations. Delegates also asked the NEF to further investigate the creation of industry led research initiatives that foster mobility and collaboration.
The Okeho Exodus: A Review
By Akeem Akinniyi
Playwright: Olutayo Irantiola
Publisher: Peo Davies Communications
Year of Publication: 2022
Reviewer: Akeem Akinniyi
Olutayo Irantiola’s The Okeho Exodus is a historical play set in 1916 but written in a modern-day language and filled with elements that will not alienate a reader in these present times. The play revisits the past of the descendants of Okeho, who resettled among the hills along with ten villages to stem the tide of invasion by the Dahomey and Fulanis. What follows are intrigues of betrayal and bastardisation of culture by colonialists, which eventually leads to the tragic end of not only the king but the loss of the town’s sovereignty to the colonial masters.
The theme of betrayal dominates the play, and the only character who survives it is Oba Arilesire, who built a harmonious home of settlers which sets the tone for successive kings before the turn of Onjo Olukitibi.
The emergence of Captain Ross and his fellow conquerors in Okeho with their laws and subjugation of the people leads to distrust among the chiefs and sets the plot to oust the king, Onjo Olukitibi.
A wave of betrayal rises among the chiefs who think Onjo Olukintibi has sold them out to the colonialists referred to as ‘Ajele’ (a Yoruba word for usurpers). The internecine fighting grows beyond the borders of Okeho and extends to other towns as Balogun Olele seeks allies from far and within against the king.
In the end, the king is captured and annihilated along with his family. Captain Ross avenges the death of the king, and attacks and arrests the unerring chiefs to bring law and order to Okeho, thereby establishing the sovereignty of the colonial masters.
The play deploys antithesis effectively to strike a balance in the events as well as the lives of the characters and the passing of the years. Oba Arilesire’s reign is filled with harmonious living and unity among the people. He would go on to die peacefully in his sleep. This is contrasting to the reign of Onjo Olukintibi whose reign ends in disarray with mistrust in the air and would later die agonizingly in the hands of his own people.
Another is the replacement of invaders; at first, it is the Fulanis and Dahomeys whose aggression make the people of Okeho flee to the new place. Little had they settled down when the colonialists invaded their space, and sadly, it will result in their return to the place they left earlier.
The challenges of colonialism to traditional laws and customs are symbolized by the emergence of Captain Ross whose influence and power conflicted with Onjo Olukintibi, thereby reducing his relevance before the people. His authority is challenged, and as Captain Ross’ influence grows, Olukitibi’s stature shrinks.
The people of Okeho begin to see him as the puppet of the white man. An example is the statement of Oladunni (41) “The reign of Olukitibi is already disheartening. We have never experienced this in Okeho Ahoro, I have been watching with keen interest, and I am getting to lose hope in his leadership abilities. People have been saying that Olukitibi was not the right person to be crowned, he was imposed on us by the colonial masters. But will the kingmakers and the oracle lie?”
The theme of betrayal echoes throughout the book, and it is expressed in many ways. Jinjin represents the modern, inquisitive, and courageous woman who believes in equality. She also represents the Biblical Eve, whose inquisitiveness led to the fall of man through her desire to partake in the Oro traditions. A Yoruba cult tradition that forbids the participation of women. She never hides her intent to break all patriarchal foundations (25):
Jinjin: My right to social equality, freedom of association and speech. I want to know more about Oro. If it was an entirely sacred thing, men should also stay out of the rituals.
To achieve her husband, Olojomo’s commitment to making her participate, she weaponises sex, and the poor man submits to her guiles: “Yes, my mind is at rest now. I am sure that I would soon partake of the ritual, and we would break all the limitations that have been set by many generations” ” (63). Olojomo would go on to get her involved in the ritual, a flaw that ridicules his legacy in the Oro cult leading to his disgrace from the group by fellow initiates who considered his actions a betrayal of trust.
Another female character of note is Oladunni, who challenges the status quo of the submissive housewife who must accept everything that her husband dishes out to her. She broke patriarchal norms by talking back at her husband Oga Akooda (37) who in a state of excitement and drunkenness about the Oro festival insults her father which she replied accordingly and disrespectfully. The husband chases her with the intent to beat her and, instead of being apologetic, tries to give reasons for his uncouth behaviour. (38)
Oga Akioda: She has to swallow those words if not, there won’t be peace any longer in this house. She thought I was tipsy and could not reason well.
Oladunni: I will go to the court of Ross. You will learn lessons. I cannot tolerate you any longer. You are a violent man. (He wants to chase her again, but Akoda holds him).
The court of Ross is the court of the white man which allows room for divorce. This can be seen as a breakaway from the cultural norm of family and community elders settling marital conflicts. It reflects a subjugation of traditional authority. Some of the little cracks that, bit by bit collapse the wall of traditions and customs.
The playwright makes use of songs to communicate and express the mood. The language, though direct, is sometimes riddled with too much Yoruba aided by code-mixing and translations that somehow belabour the point. Some scenes appear intrusive, as we have during the choice of kingship. Above all, the playwright achieves his aim of telling an ancient story to a modern audience by reflecting on the effects of colonialism and its attendant evils of erosion of cultures and abuse of power.
Akinniyi Akeem is an advertising copywriter with one of the leading PR agencies in Nigeria. He enjoys the art of writing, and in his spare time, he loves to delight the blank page with poetry and short stories.
FBNQuest Trustees, Law Firm Launch MetWaqf Islamic Endowment Fund
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
An Islamic endowment fund called MetWaqf, designed to support the education of underprivileged persons in Nigeria, irrespective of their religion, has been launched by The Metropolitan Law Firm with the support of FBNQuest Trustees.
The charity initiative is part of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) of the two organisations and was unveiled at the 5th Islamic Estate Planning Clinic in Abuja.
The Managing Partner at The Metropolitan Law Firm, Mr Ummahani A. Amin, stated that the MetWaqf was established for the betterment of education in Nigeria.
According to him, MetWaqf is an Islamic endowment fund dedicated to promoting and providing education, most especially to underprivileged persons in Nigeria, saying he looks forward to the impact the initiative will have in society.
Also, the Managing Director of FBNQuest Trustees, Mr Adekunle Awojobi, said, as the first and leading providers of trust services in Nigeria, FBNQuest Trustees was particularly elated about the partnership and support on the MetWaqf initiative, expressing optimism that this charity initiative in its entirety will get the interest of everyone regardless of religion.
Speaking on the estate planning clinic, Mr Awojobi stated that the basic principle of estate planning was ensuring the preservation of legacies.
The event had some renowned Islamic financial scholars educating participants on the Islamic law of inheritance (Farā’id), the importance of estate planning in Islam and the various Shari’ah compliant estate planning tools like Waqf, Zakat, Hibah etc., and how they can be used to ensure that the affairs of all heirs and beneficiaries are adequately addressed in modern times.
These topics were dissected by Dr Nuruddeen Lemu, Director of Research and Training at the Da’wah Institute of Nigeria; Professor Ahmad Dogarawa, a professor at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; and Dr Warshu Tijjani, Rabi’u a Shariah Board member of Noor Takaful Nigeria, who is currently the Deputy Director, Research and Publication of International Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance, Bayero University, Kano, Kano State.
Others were Ummahani Amin, the Managing Partner at The Metropolitan Law Firm; Mohammed Yunusa of The Metropolitan Law Firm; Mutiat Olatunji, a Private Trust Specialist at FBNQuest Trustees; and Aminu Dabo Musa, the Relationship Manager at FBNQuest Trustees.
Geodrill Female Employees Empower Ofoase Kokoben SHS Girls
As part of activities marking International Women’s Day (IWD), female workers of a mining and drilling services company, Geodrill Limited, charged girls at Ofoase Kokoben Senior High School (SHS) in the Ashanti Region of Ghaha to take up courses in male-dominated fields, such as mining to contribute to the development of the country.
The employees of the mining firm, during the visit, interacted with the students, sharing their experiences in the field and explaining why they should consider technically-related courses.
Antoinette Ankutse of Geodrill told News Ghana in an interview that the motivation behind the visit was to “empower the girls regarding courses to be pursued at the universities. We are into mining, and we wanted to use ourselves as a case study for the girls to realize that it is possible.”
She expressed optimism that the engagement would encourage the Ofoase Kokoben SHS girls and others across the country to take a cue from the female workers of Geodrill.
“In general, females should not be pushed into secretarial and clerical work but rather directed towards the technical fields,” added Ankutse.
The students thanked the female employees of Geodrill for taking time out of their busy schedules to empower them about their future careers.
Earlier, Geodrill ran a staff consultation as part of the IWD to discuss greater community engagement to encourage women in mining, including Bernice Gbadam, Doris Danso, and Becky Elithia, the first woman to work in Geodrill, the first woman to obtain a Geodrill driving permit, and the first woman to pursue an accounting program, respectively.
International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8 around the world to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
Geodrill has long set out to be a leader in championing strong economic, social and governance principals that drive the company’s activity.
Increasing the percentage of women employed in the company is clear target measured in the company’s annual ESG Impact report.
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