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ICA Africa Regional Conference

Posted By Paula Gardner, ICA President-Elect, McMaster U, Monday, November 21, 2016
Paula Gardner, ICA President-Elect,
McMaster U

Greetings from Nairobi, where I am writing this newsletter column from the first ever ICA regional conference in Africa! Like any revolutionary moment, it is made possible by the efforts of a few highly committed people--Professor Sister Anges Lando of Daystar University, her hard-working local organizing team, and efforts begun by Peter Vorderer (U of Mannheim) and finished by Amy Jordan (U of Pennsylvania). In a prescient moment, these individuals realized it was time to rectify the paltry participation of African scholars in ICA's conferences, journals, and networks.

The view from ICA Nairobi is enlightening to Western eyes. Our African colleagues have gracefully schooled us in their struggles to access international audiences for their work and to participate in ICA. The scholarship we witness here is sorely needed by communication scholars. Today alone, we have heard papers critiquing global media reporting on terrorism in Kenya, analysing campaigns promoting alcohol and tobacco to Kenyan children and promotions to enhance breast cancer diagnosis, and numerous reports on innovative uses of mobile technologies to support agriculture, ICT innovation, educational initiatives and more. I find myself engrossed in these presentations that, with precision and vigor, bring deeply needed insights to key social and political problems across Africa. I am invigorated by the energy brought by each delegate and humbled by their perseverance to attain their intellectual and sociopolitical goals. They are teaching us with generosity and showering us with welcomes.

Our African colleagues have requested mentorship from us, in turn. Many editors of ICA journals are here and held a standing room only event on our publishing processes. They reported unusually low publishing rates for African scholars in our journals; African scholars are often rejected due to the use of English and the need for further training in the ICA culture of publishing--for example, the need to cite existing literature, to use citation styles precisely, etc. As part of our contribution, many ICA members have served as mentors in "research escalation" sessions here in Nairobi, where we have provided close editorial readings to junior African scholars seeking to publish their work. These sessions have been deeply gratifying, enabling us to access their unique insights, and giving us a glimpse of the profound work that will come from Africa's future scholarly leaders.

As we continue to develop ICA as a truly international organization, I hope we can be propelled by our learning here, particularly the benefits of dual mentorship practices. Look forward to forthcoming invitations to participate, yourself, as a mentor for interested scholars from Africa and other regions lesser represented in ICA, to assist in the development and dissemination of this scholarship and to obtain broad learning for yourself. Through this work, we can make individual, long-term, sustainable commitments to meet the generosity we have been shown by our African colleagues. Asante, African colleagues, for a remarkable experience in Nairobi!

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