“Let’s Tell it Better” – Stakeholders Urge Participants at UNILAG-ACC Graduate Conference

Participants at the Second (2nd) University of Lagos African Cluster Centre (UNILAG-ACC) Graduate Conference in African Studies have been encouraged to adopt critical thinking in the evaluation of issue(s), and Africa’s narratives.

With the theme: Developing Theories within the African Studies Research Space, the three-day Conference commenced with an Opening Session on Wednesday, September 20, 2023, at the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS), UNILAG.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development Services), Professor Ayodele V. Atsenuwa, who represented the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Folasade T. Ogunsola, OON, FAS at the event’s opening session, stressed the importance of ensuring that Africa’s rich history and stories are properly documented for the preservation of its culture.

The astute Professor of Law explained that the ongoing evolution of Afrobeats music is a typical example of how the story of the music industry has been captured over time.

According to her, Afrobeat music is collaborative, adaptable, and interconnected with other music genres within Africa and beyond; and its exposure to a much wider, international audience has changed its landscape, both commercially and sonically.

Her words “… any one of you can also change our narrative if we apply critical thinking in solving our issues despite our peculiarities.  This is because critical thinking is entirely unemotional, which means that it focuses only on factual, measurable evidence in the real world ’’. 

In his presentation on Rethinking African Studies; the Importance of Autochthonous Theories, the Keynote Speaker, Professor Chielozona Eze examined the African narrative through his lens. He hinged his position on: who we are as Africans, what we are to one another, and what do we want to become to one another.

The Professor who teaches at Carleton College, Northfield Minnesota, USA explained that the multi-cultural complexities of Africa which should serve as platform for telling the continent’s stories better have over time become Africa’s greatest challenge.

His words, “ There is a tendency towards undifferentiated views on Africa, which usually concentrate on negative aspects, overlooking progress in many areas. Researchers must find the appropriate way to make better theories of the African people. As Black people, our shared cultural codes provide us, as one people with stable, unchanging, and continuous frames of reference and meaning, beneath the shifting divisions and vicissitudes of our actual histories.

Delivering a paper on Research ethics, Data gathering, and Analysis, Dr. Olaoluwa Senayon a Principal Investigator from Institute of African Studies – University of Ibadan, posited that the new generation of African scholars should endeavour to conduct research that takes stock of the state of African Studies. He urged them to intensify efforts to change Africa’s wrong perceptions as a lot of innuendoes and concocted stories have been established about the continent. 

Earlier, the Director of the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS), UNILAG, Professor ‘Muyiwa Falaiye elucidated the importance of using African theories rather than foreign theories in explaining African issues and phenomenon.

He explained that the conference would boost the cross-fertilization of ideas and capacity development of participants.

At least twenty (20) Ph.D. Students drawn from various Universities in Nigeria are participating in the 2nd UNILAG-ACC Graduate Conference in African Studies. The objectives of the Conference which will end on Friday, September 22, 2023, include, to:

  • create opportunities for early career scholars to share ongoing research with their peers;
  • provide support on how to develop theories in African Studies;
  • grant networking opportunities to early-career researchers with senior academics from the University of Lagos and beyond and
  • give expert support to early-career researchers on thesis writing.
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