Eleven Carnegie Africa Diaspora Fellowship Program (CADFP) Fellows and alumni currently hosted by various universities in Kenya, pose for a group photo with the Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza (Front row - second right) at the close of a meeting, held on Friday, July 27 in the Vice Chancellor’s Boardroom. Accompanying some of the fellows were their hosts from Chuka University, Kenyatta University and St. Paul’s University. In attendance was the CADPF Program Coordinator Ms. Everlyn Anyal Musa (Back row - second left). PHOTO: DAN MUCHAI
By Everlyn Musa
On Friday, July 27, Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza, who is the Chair of Carnegie Africa Diaspora Fellowship Program (CADFP) Advisory Council and Program Coordinator Ms. Everlyn Anyal Musa, hosted eleven CADFP fellows and alumni currently hosted by various universities in Kenya. Accompanying some of the fellows were their hosts from Chuka University, Kenyatta University and St. Paul’s University.
This was the first opportunity for fellows, alumni and hosts to meet outside of the United States . The idea conceived by a few fellows as a “Meet and Greet” event turned out to be a great opportunity for the group to know one another, share information and experiences, network and initiate collaborations. Apart from knowing one another, the group desired to hear the vision of the program from Prof. Zeleza, whose research on “Engagements between African Diaspora Academics in the U.S. and Canada and African Institutions of Higher Education: Perspectives from North America and Africa” resulted in the CADFP that has, since its inception in 2013, awarded 355 fellowships to diaspora scholars hosted by universities in six African countries namely, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa.
Prof. Zeleza also shared CADFP’s current focus of launching the 10/10 program that will mobilize 1000 diaspora scholars of African descent per year from all over the world to serve universities and colleges in the whole continent for the next 10 years.
The fellows and alumni concurred that they were having a great experience at their host Universities and felt valued. They acknowledged the dire, deprived situation in most universities including inadequate number of faculty especially at graduate level of study, and for research, equipment, curriculum, teaching and training materials to mention but a few.
The scholars therefore announced their intent to expand their fellowship engagements beyond their host institutions in order to maximize on their visits to benefit wider populations. This, they believe, could be achieved through workshops, short courses and trainings especially in neighboring universities.
Alumni fellows underscored the Alumni fellowship opportunities that provide a good chance for strengthening the activities started during the first visit. They also expressed their desire to collaborate more closely among themselves, and hope to see more synergy between CADFP and other diaspora linkages programs in Africa; University of Ghana Legon, CODESRIA and Wits.
The team noted their appreciation for opportunities for alumni of these 4 programs, to work together towards a common goal of diaspora scholars’ participation in higher education in Africa. In their view, such an initiative will create more impact for the programs and reduce duplication of efforts.
Kenya Scholars and Studies Association (KESSA), represented by one of their members during the meeting, stated their willingness to support higher education institutions and recommended that a certain percentage of diaspora remittances should be channeled towards higher education. The Assocation, it was said, had put some effort into presenting this proposal to the Government of Kenya, and invited CADFP to assist them in advancing the proposal through the right government offices.
The team recommend the allocation of more discretional funds to further strengthen the impact of the program. These funds would then enable the scholars to host their hosts at their home institutions for deeper collaboration which they miss when they come to the continent due to heavy workloads.
Such funds would also support field work and research activities, purchase of specialized equipment for example for film editing, conference attendance and networking.
Although CADFP has allocated additional funds beginning this current fellowship period, it was pointed out that these are not adequate for example for research materials that are usually expensive. It was however noted though, that some fellows have managed to bridge the gap through support from their home institutions and other sources.
The hosts expressed great appreciation to CADFP for supporting their institutions in areas of great need including curriculum co-development, supervision and mentoring of doctoral students and collaborative research. They acknowledged the fellows’ role in strengthening their collaboration activities with both local and international institutions and for injecting new strength to their institutions, and boosting confidence in students especially through conference participation.
In conclusion, both fellows, alumni and hosts appreciated the initiative to invite them to the collaborative session, since it enabled them to learn a lot from each other and will go a long way in enriching their networks.