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Attending the international symposium at Kyoto University

Sun., January 27, 2019

On January 27, 2019, Nancy attended "International Symposium on "African Potentials and the Future of Humanity"" held at Kyoto University. The symposium motivated her to go on studying. It was also a great pleasure for us that we could give Nancy and Samuel a chance to attend the international symposium about African studies in Japan during their short stay.

Here is her report.


On Sunday 27th January, 2019, the 3rd Kyoto Symposium: African Potentials 2019 took off on the first floor of Inamori Foundation Memorial Hall at Kyoto University, Kyoto Japan. The symposium was captured under the theme "International Symposium on African Potentials and the Future of Humanity". Facilitated by Gen Yamakoshi of Kyoto University, the meeting commenced at exactly 9: 30 am with opening remarks from Motoji Matsuda from Kyoto University. Broadly the presentations were categorized under 3 thematic areas and sessions. The first session was under the theme "Governability and African Potentials". This session was chaired by Shinichi Takeuchi of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and Momoka Maki from Sophia University led the discussions. The second session was on the topic "Culturality and African Potentials". This session was chaired by Misa Hirano-Nomoto ok Kyoto University and Nobuko Nishizaki from Fukushima University as the discussant. The third session was done under theme "Conviviality and African Potentials "and four presentations were made. The last session was chaired by Itaru Ohta of Kyoto University and Akira Takada of University led the discussions for this session.

The Daniel Agbiboa of George Mason University was the first presenter for the symposium and for the first session. His presentation was on the topic "Eyes on the Streets: The Civilian Joint Task Force and the Surveillance of Boko Haram in Northeastern Nigeria". Basically he criticized the Nigerian government's over-reliance on the west and its orthodox approach to counter insurgency in Nigerian. He points out that there exist different kinds of epistemology to fight insurgency in Africa. In sum, he advocates for an approach that goes beyond the hegemonic epistemological paradigm and proposed a hybrid security to resolve terrorism in Africa.

The next speaker for the conference was Tamara Enomoto from Meiji University. She spoke on the topic "Africa and the West: Norms and Measures Regarding Arms Transfers to Non-State Actors (NSAs)". Enomoto's presentation centered on arms transfer to African NSAs. She argues that in addressing this matter, both western and African concepts and systems have been juxtaposed to solve the problem. She believes that post-independence African actors have been instrumental in creating and promoting so called western problem-solving methods and thus there exist difficulties in identifying differences. Hence in her opinion, a more critical examination of the approach rather than the stereotypical perceptions of the differences should be the focus.

The following speaker was Atsuko Munmorah from Kansai University and he addressed the theme "Remuneration for 'Her' Skill under Job Color Bar: Wage Structure during the 1942 Strike in Rural Western Cape". Her work was aimed at exploring the wage structure of South Africa after 1942 from a gender-based perspective. She highlight how women's wages did not correspond with their outputs unlike their male counterparts. In brief, she throws light on the distinctive way female workers are treated under the job color bar.

The last presenter for the first session spoke on a topic dubbed "Using Traditional Cultural Framework of an African Society to Conceptualize Modern Governance". The speaker is in the person of Teshome Emana and affiliated to Addis Ababa University. According to Emana, African societies have their own established traditional institutions that can promote good governance in the continent. He illustrate his argument with a philosophical framework called "fafee" by the Oromo people in east Africa. He argues that fafee is used to assess and keep the government on its toes and also advance governance and development. In all he emphasizes the need to consider African cultural methods to address the continent's governance challenges.

The second session began after a lunch break. Antoine Socpa of the University of Yaounde I, presented on "Patterns of Coexistence and Conflict Resolution between Fishermen Communities from Cameroon, Benin and Nigeria". He provided a description of the relationship that exist among fishermen from Benin, Cameroon and Nigeria who live in Cameroon. And underscores some challenges bedevilled by the fishermen that results in conflict and looked out for possible ways of managing the crises.

Again on the second session, Toshio Meguro of Hiroshima City University, presented a paper on "Misrepresentation and appropriation of cultural innovation by neoliberal conservation alliance: the case of the Maasai Olympics". Using the Massai Olympics - a traditional athletic sport event in southern Kenya, Meguro points misrepresentations of the Maasai culture on the internet and the world by NGOs. As an eyewitness, the speaker asserts the dynamic nature of the culture the years.

The third speaker, Frank Matose, from the University of Cape Town, took the stage. Speaking on the topic, "the Militarisation of Conservation in Africa: Emerging Insights" Matose reveals the clashes between the state and capital over mega fauna in Africa that is in great demand in Asia market. He expresses concern over the militarised, securitized and violent nature of the battle among the two and it impact on communities living around those protected areas.

Finally the fourth presentation for this session was delivered by Wakana Shino from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies on the topic "The House Girl by Choice or the circumstances in Kenya and Uganda". Through interview and observations Shino interrogates the condition of service of 'house girls' in Kenya and Uganda. She described the routine activities and the relationship between house girls and the elite women. And how the house helps are exploited and cheated by their employers.
The last session was kicked off by Shose Kessi from University of Cape Town under the theme "Towards a Pan-African University: Defining and Confining Symbols of the Past". Her paper talked about the use of protests by South African students to reconstruct colonial educational legacies that affected African societies negatively. Further to that, she examined the mental effect of colonial symbols and representations in Africa.

Additionally, in the third session, Shuichiro Nakao from Osaka University, spoke on the topic, "African Plurilingual Tradition and Conviviality: Lessons from Non-Arab Arabic-Speaking Communities in Eastern Africa". Nakao sought to conceptualize the African ethics drawing on metalinguistic expressions on language ideology among three non-Arab speaking societies.

Subsequently, Kyoto Nakamura from Tokyo University presented on the topic "Local Recognition Alienated from Global Discourse: Changes in Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in a Kenyan Pastoral Community". She assert the predominance of FGM/C in Africa and the efforts by States and non-states actors to abolish the act. Also, Nakamura laments the transformed and covert manner in which the act is being committed in some communities.
Kazuro from Hiroshima University ended the presentations for the day. His topic was on "Household and Collectives in Participatory School Management in Ghana: Focusing on the Analytical Framework of Conviviality". The presenter using a quantitative case study of two public schools in the Akatsi South District of Ghana assessed how teachers discipline pupils after the government abolished corporal punishment.

After all presentations were made, facilitator Eisei Kurimoto from Osaka University wrapped up the symposium with brief comments from all the African scholars who presented at the conference. The conference ended around 6pm.
Generally the program was educative, informative and a great motivation for a young academic like me. I also am grateful to Prof. Takeuchi and African Studies Centre for the support and the opportunity given.