“We need your research!” is what ICA President Paula Gardner told mentees during the opening ceremony of the first ever ICAfrica Research and Publication Training Workshop in Entebbe, Uganda October 24-26.
“Your issues are unique and your research is essential to international communication,” Gardner added in her opening remarks, during the workshop that brought together participants from 41 universities from seven African countries including Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, South Africa, Rwanda, Nigeria, and Kenya.
The uniqueness of African Research was echoed by a number of mentors such as Dina Borzekowski (U of Maryland) who emphasized that African Scholars should capitalize on their cultural competencies and regional expertise to grow research beyond the region. Herman Wasserman (U of Cape Town) noted that scholars can use this unique expertise to build their research brand and identity.
Overall, the themes of collaborative research and integration as well as the internationalization of African scholarship were emphasized by the 18 mentors who facilitated the workshops and breakaway sessions.
Speaking about her mentorship experience, Monica Chibita (Uganda Christian U) said, “The level of enthusiasm amongst the mentees was so energizing. The training workshop provided communal learning time as well as small group learning to reinforce lessons. The workshop aims at creating a research community which can answer relevant questions about media and society from an understanding of the African context.”
Training on literature review writing, Faith Nguru (Riara University) , likened the huge task of analytical organization of literature review development to slow deliberate cooking of matoke – a staple Ugandan food of steamed bananas that is served with a ground nut sauce and just as one continuously checks the state of the matoke being cooked, the effective academic writer must continuously develop and refine both theoretical framework and conceptual framework.
Nguru was delighted by the mentorship opportunity as it fulfilled her personal mission to influence the next generation of scholars. “The training demystified research and publication process and made it look possible to increase journal publishing from African scholars which will contribute to an African inclusivity and involvement which adds to the African voice in answering of global issues
This Research and Publication Training Workshop is a by-product of the historic ICAfrica Regional Conference held at Daystar U last year. Then, it emerged that ICA needed to do more with regards to mentorship as a way of rectifying the unusually low publishing rates for many African scholars within the ICA journal circles and beyond.
Whilst majority of the mentees were either MA Students or PhD candidates, one mentee stood out as the youngest mentee. Sussy Gitari a third year student pursuing B.A Communications in electronic media at Daystar U in Kenya applied for the workshop after she saw the ICAfrica Training Workshop poster at her campus. “ICA training has greatly boosted my knowledge in research and skills in writing journals. I look forward to publishing and would like to encourage my fellow undergraduate students to participate more in research and academic writing.
As a mentee participant, Wangeci Kanyeki (Co-author of this article) says, “the workshop gave perspective on the bigger goal and purpose of academic scholarship. It’s not just about acquiring your respective degree. It is about researching on global issues to provide solutions that improve humanity. Publishing gets your degree off the shelf and expands your study to global benefit.”
The other great advantage of attending conference workshops is the opportunity to network with academic book authors and scholars as observed by Daystar U M.A Communication student John Nyamu. “Your network is your net worth and attending the ICAfrica conference provided a great opportunity to increase my academic worth,” he said.
ICA Africa Visionary and Coordinator Sr. Agnes Lucy Lando echoed the value and significance of this workshop. “If each of the mentees went away with the spirit to support and mentor others, Africa will become a huge academic and research giant to reckon with,” she observed.
During the closing ceremonies, two Daystar U graduate students and also Local Organizing Committee Members, Miriam Kwena(MA Student) and Joy Kibarabara (PhD Student & Co-Author of this article) presented short speeches about their ICA journey and experience from a student perspective.
Both noted how their research profile had expanded since their first ICA experience in Fukuoka, Japan, and encouraged the mentees to join the growing community of online African student and early career scholars at the African Communication Researcher’s Network active on Facebook since last year.
More than 100 mentees participated in the three day workshop held at the Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel in Entebbe.