African Universities unite to strengthen research capabilities to benefit African communities
The great Nelson Mandela once dreamt of a united Africa, whereby its leaders combine their efforts to solve the problems of this continent.
Here at the University of Fort Hare, his dream is realized through a pact made with the University of Gondar (Ethiopia), Makerere University Business School (Uganda) and the University of Kigali (Rwanda) to work together to strengthen teaching, learning and research capabilities to mutually benefit staff, students and their surrounding communities.
The four African Universities sealed this agreement with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) during a virtual ceremony held in June.
The signing ceremony was directed by Prof Willie Chinyamurindi (HOD of UFH Business Management), who alongside Prof Munacinga Simatele (UFH Economics Prof) and Dr Annet Nabatanzi-Myimba (Makerere University) initiated and played a pivotal role in the realization of this commitment.
According to Prof Chinyamurindi, at the core of this partnership is the desire to strive for collaboration in research, collaborative teaching, new curriculum development, short course attendance, and the training of undergraduate and postgraduate students.
“Such Africa to Africa partnerships attest to the continued history of working together espoused by intellectuals and social activists like the late Kenyan-born thinker, Ali Mazrui. Despite the adamant challenges on the African continent, the clarion call here, Africans can re-script their destiny. Partnerships merely embolden and make haste our steps towards the liberation of the Africans,” said Prof Chinyamurindi.
Guests and participants who shared messages of solidarity for this joint venture during the MOU signing ceremony include:
- Dr Nthabi Taole- Mjimba – UFH DVC for Research, Partnerships and Innovation
- Dr Hlulani Mabasa - Office of International Affairs Director, UFH
- Dr Asrat Atsedeweyn Andargie - President of the University of Gondar
- Prof Robert Rugimbana - Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kigali
- Prof Waswa Balunywa – Principal of Makerere University Business School
- Prof Sarah Mosoetsa - CEO of the National Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences
Prof Liezel Cilliers who is the Acting Dean for UFH Faculty of Management and Commerce said the African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” was fitting of the research journey undertaken by the universities and the researchers.
“Alone, I can accomplish only so much with my own resources and knowledge but when I start to tap into the network of colleagues with various skills and knowledge, I can go further and accomplish so much more. The beauty of this arrangement is that it puts us in a position to give back,” said Prof Cilliers.
Highlighting some of the expectations of this joint venture, Prof Simatele said the aim is to generate Afrocentric research that is impactful and to produce collaborative research that influences policies to benefit surrounding communities.
Echoing the sentiments of the previous speakers, Dr Nabatanzi-Myimba said the collaboration will unlock opportunities to find African solutions for African problems.
Dr Mabasa declared the University’s support and affirmed the importance of South-to-South collaborations. “The University is currently at the start of a Decade of Renewal and one of our strategic plans is to expand partnerships across the African continent. We need to move away from relying on the West to tell us what is acceptable and what knowledge is best. It is time to go back to our indigenous knowledge and this partnership presents us an opportunity to do so.”
“We want this partnership to be successful and to be a flagship for other universities that South-to-South partnerships can work and produce research that is relevant to the current century. We are excited and look forward to the activities from this partnership."
Dr Taole-Mjimba pointed out the fact that this collaboration speaks directly to two strategic goals outlined in UFH’s 2022-2027 Strategic Plan which are to strengthen the University’s research and innovation profile and to enhance the University’s regional, national and international standing and impact.
“This project will hopefully give expression to the desire of the partnering Universities which is to uphold excellence in the work produced. It will certainly propel us to have the impact we aspire to have on the African continent,” said Dr Taole-Mjimba.