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Attending the international symposium at Kyoto University

Sun., January 27, 2019

On January 27, 2019, Samuel attended "International Symposium on "African Potentials and the Future of Humanity"" held at Kyoto University. He seems to learn so much from the symposium. It is 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 Samuel's report.


The 3rd Kyoto Symposium: African Potentials, came off on Sunday, January 27, 2019 at the Inamori Foundation Memorial Hall, Kyoto University. The conference was held under the theme, "International Symposium on African Potentials and the Future of Humanity". The symposium was facilitated by Gen Yamakoshi of Kyoto University. The overall theme was further broken down into three sessions, with four speakers each. The first session was under the theme; Governmentality and African Potentials. The session was chaired by Shinichi Takeuchi of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and the discussant for the session was Mamoka Maki of Sophia University. The second session was also under the theme; Culturality and African Potentials. This session was also chaired by Misa Hirano-Nomoto of Kyoto University and the discussant for the session was Nobuko Nishizaki of Fukushima University. The third and final session was held under the theme; Conviviality and African Potentials. This session was also chaired by Itaru Ohta of Kyoto University and the discussant was Akira Takada, also of Kyoto University.

The first speaker of the day was Daniel Agbiboa of George Mason University. He spoke under the topic: "Eyes on the Streets: The Civilian Joint Task Force and the Surveillance of Boko Haram in Northeastern Nigeria". In his presentation he outlined the role of the Cicilian Joint Task Force, a local vigilante group played in dealing with the Boko Haram menace when it was heightened. He therefore called for a reconfiguration in the margins of counterinsurgency in Africa by moving beyond the existing epistemological paradigm.
The second speaker in the first session, Tamara Enomoto, from Meiji University, also spoke on the topic: "Africa and the West: Norms and Measures regarding arms transfers to non-state actors (NSAs). In a similar tangent as the earlier speaker, she argued that the stereotypical static imagery of the West needs to be broken, and the over-emphasis on dichotomy between the West and Africa, needs to be carefully examined.

The third speaker for the day, Atsuko Munemura of Kansai University, also spoke on the topic: "Remuneration for 'Her' Skill under Job Color Bar: Wage Structure during the 1942 Strike in Rural Western Cape". In her presentation, she outlined the wage differences that exist based on the gender of a person. Using the South African case, she unveiled how women are cheated on the jobs they do. Her presentation, shed light on the unique aspect of female workers under the structure called job color bar.

The final speaker for the first session, Teshome Emana of Addis Ababa University, spoke on the topic: "Using Traditional Cultural Framework of An African Society to Conceptualize Modern Governance". In his submission, he outlined that African societies had their own established traditions that guided their actions. This inception of modern governance have come to dilute the authenticity of these traditions. As a result of this, his presentation calls for reintegration of the traditional systems into modern governance. He used Ethiopia as a case study.
Participants were given a hour's brake to freshen up, take lunch and get ready for the next two sessions.

The second session which began a little after 1pm, commenced with a presentation from Antoine Socpa, from the University of Yaounde. He spoke on the topic, "Patterns of Coexistence and Conflict Resolution between Fishermen Communities from Cameroon, Benin and Nigeria". He establishes that artisanal fishing contributes to the promotion of food self-sufficiency in animal protein and the improvement of the social well-being of the population. He further outlined that their activities are met with several challenges. As a result, his paper identifies these challenges and tries to proffer solutions to dealing with them.

The next speaker, Toshio Meguro from Hiroshima City University, spoke on the topic: "Misrepresentation and appropriation of cultural innovation by neoliberal conservation alliance: the case of the Maasai Olympics". In his presentation, Toshio, having observed almost all the Olympics that have been held by the Maasai people, acknowledges that some changes have been made to the process. However, the misrepresentation syndrome is still present.
Still on the Culturality and African Potentials session, the third speaker, in the person of Frank Matose, from the University of Cape Town, took the stage. Speaking on the topic, "the Militarisation of Conservation in Africa: Emerging Insights", he unveiled the militarisation approach that has been taken to guide African conservations. He laments on how people have illegally been making money out of the natural conservations by selling some part of some animals such as rhinos and elephants. In order to protect these natural conservations, the author indicates that, the local people who live around these conservations, have resorted to the using of a militarised approach in guiding these natural treasures.
The final presentation for the second session was done by Wakana Shiino from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. She spoke on the topic, "The House Girl by Choice or the circumstances in Kenya and Uganda". Drawing from the cases of Kenya and Uganda, her work investigated the conditions of the women who become house girls or housemaids, and their relationship with elite women. She establishes factors that cause people to be engaged in being house girls.

After exhausting the presentations for the second session, participants were allowed to have a few minutes break and returned for the final session of the day.

The final session for the day commenced with a presentation from Shose Kessi, from the University of Cape Town. She spoke under the topic, "Towards a Pan-African University: Defining and Confining Symbols of the Past". She discussed the emancipatory process of African universities from cognitive colonization. Using cases of protests by African universities such as the University of Ghana, and the University of Cape Town, she explained how these students sought to totally clear out traces of colonization.

The next speaker, Shuichiro Nakao from Osaka University, spoke on the topic, "African Plurilingual Tradition and Conviviality: Lessons from Non-Arab Arabic-Speaking Communities in Eastern Africa". He aimed at conceptualizing the African ethics which backgrounds the convivial plurilingual practices in Africa, drawing from some cases to explain his point.

The third speaker for the final session, Kyoko Nakamura from Toyo University, presented on the topic, "Local Recognition Alienated from Global Discourse: Changes in Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in a Kenyan Pastoral Community". She established how FGM/C is a major issue in Africa. She admitted that despite the global attempts to abolish it, some groups have still maintained the practice. She described the dynamic process underlying the changes in FGM/C and clarified the gap between global discourse and local recognition by focusing on the newly created cutting styles ('kati-kati', previously 'suna'), which involve less mutilation than the traditional style.

The final presentation for the day was done by Kazuro Shibuya from Hiroshima University. He spoke on the topic, "Households and Collectives in Participatory School Management in Ghana: Focusing on the Analytical Framework of Conviviality". He established in his presentation how public schools in Ghana, have dual supervision from both the state and the community. He did his study using the Akatsi South District in the Volta Region as a case. He identified some challenges with the existing system such as lack of accountability, and lack of good teachers. After all presenters had completed with their presentations, there was a wrapping up session led by Eisei Kurimoto of Osaka University. Participants were made to ask a few questions during some of the sessions.

On the whole, the symposium was very educative and informing. The presenters were well informed in their subject area. My only lamentation of the entire program was the small amount of time that was given to participants to ask questions. All in all, the entire process was an excellent one.

I would like to appreciate the support from the African Studies Center for your financial assistance that was given, to aid me attend this symposium.