I am sitting in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi writing this column en route to our second ICAfrica event — this time in Entebbe, Uganda — to participate in our first ever research and publication workshop. Our mission is to mentor over 100 mentees from across the African continent to enhance their research and writing skills, moving their work toward publication.
Many people have made this possible— there are over 21 volunteer organizers from the original ICAfrica team plus new members from our local organizing team at Ugandan Martyr’s U. In addition, senior colleagues from across ICA (including the African continent), are donating their time as mentors, with many having self-funded their trips. These volunteers are all about to board planes and spend upwards of 25 hours traveling, forfeiting a week from their own work, family, and responsibilities. Our ICA office staff has gone above and beyond in supporting this workshop. This level of effort displays ICA's commitment to expand our membership in countries with historically low representation, and to augment our communication literature with the richness of African communication studies.
It is a deep pleasure to engage in this work. Part of the pleasure comes from the generosity of our African colleagues whose unrelenting enthusiasm and unflinching work ethic reminds us of the urgent need foster and support African scholarship.
Another deep pleasure comes from reading the work of these scholars, most recently, the abstracts junior scholars have submitted to the workshop. Their proposals reflect the distinct interests and concerns that we witnessed at the ICAfrica Regional Conference in Nairobi last year; the research adds a crucial regional dimension to our international communication scholarship.
There is much work in health and risk communication addressing issues ranging from underserviced populations and untreated illnesses, particularly—its determinants, treatments, and evaluations of HIV health literacy programs. Many papers query health promotion campaigns addressing teen pregnancy, non-communicable diseases, maternal health, and service delivery. We see a range of work on development addressing innovations in agricultural technologies and practices, and relatedly, a stream of papers analyzing elements contributing to climate change and its impact on local economies, agriculture, and health.
Political communication topics range from studies addressing efforts to enhance democratic practices, tactics for reconciling political power with traditional authorities, and efficiency evaluations of public sector services. Authors query practices of organizational communication across corporations, universities, and non-profits, addressing the effectiveness of internal structures, public relation strategies, and consumer, student and employee satisfaction.
Nearly a third of our submissions deal with media issues — critiques of corporate media practices and media ownership, and a range of journalistic critiques of media framings of items ranging from terrorist attacks, to women politicians and women athletes. Another collection of papers queries the role of new media technologies in practices ranging from agricultural development to youth political participation and news creation and transformative education.
This brief scan provides a snapshot of current issues that most concern communication scholars living, researching, writing, and teaching in Africa. This research clearly impacts the health, development, and future possibilities of African countries. We foreground this collection of probing research so that we as communication scholars can self-educate, enrich our classroom teaching, and disseminate in order to increase the presence of African scholarship internationally and in ICA.
We look forward to making available documentation of our workshop materials and hope to point you toward freshly published work from new African scholars in the near future.