In a significant step towards preserving African historical facts and addressing sensitive topics, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, and the Office of the Ambassador to the African Diaspora Collective North and South America (ADC-NSA), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to foster collaboration and promote research initiatives. The MoU, signed on Wednesday, November, 30th, 2023, aims to establish a long-term partnership between Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, Nigeria, and the ADC-NSA, to advance knowledge and understanding of African history, culture, and its diaspora.
This partnership will enable both entities to pool their expertise, resources, and networks to undertake comprehensive research projects and initiatives including expertise from the Collaborative Research Group, consisting of multidisciplinary scholars of African and African descent, and the Center for Policy Research Africa (CPRA) for research-based, practical policy reform recommendations for global bodies and policymakers across the 15 African States that were prioritized.
Under the terms of the MoU, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike will provide access to its extensive library resources, research facilities, and academic expertise to support the ADC-NSA’s initiatives. This collaboration will facilitate the development of joint research projects, conferences, seminars, and workshops, fostering a vibrant exchange of ideas and knowledge.
Key Areas of Collaboration:
- Education, Training, and Research: The partnership will facilitate joint initiatives in education, training, and research, promoting knowledge exchange and academic growth.
- Bilateral Study Abroad Programs: MOUA and ADC-NSA will jointly conduct programs to encourage bilateral study abroad experiences, enriching the educational journey for students.
- Youth Entrepreneur Opportunities: Creating pathways for MOUA youth entrepreneurs in the USA, Canada, Mexico, and South American countries, fostering cross-cultural business development.
- Agriculture and Business Development Services: Offering a suite of services, including mentorship, advisory services, legal assistance, and business clinic counseling, preparing entrepreneurs for international business.
- ADC-NSA Research Centre: Establishing a dedicated center for research, focusing on historical facts and sensitive topics of Africa, women’s economic inclusion, and collaboration with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the USA.
Professor Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe, Vice-Chancellor, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, Nigeria, and his management team expressed their enthusiasm for this partnership, stating that: “We are delighted to join hands with the Collaborative Research Group and the African Diaspora Collective to embark on this important journey of preserving African historical facts and addressing sensitive topics.
By combining our academic strengths and resources, we can make significant contributions to the understanding and appreciation of Africa’s rich heritage. “The Collaborative Research Group, comprising scholars from various disciplines such as history, anthropology, sciences, agriculture, sociology, and literature, etc brings together a diverse range of perspectives and expertise. Their collective aim is to shed light on lesser-known aspects of African history, challenge existing narratives, and promote a more inclusive understanding of the continent’s past.”
In her own words, H. E. Ambassador Davisha L. Johnson of the ADC, North and South America reiterated that “The African Diaspora Collective, representing individuals and organizations from North and South America, through this MOU will play a pivotal role in connecting the dots to communities of African descent within the 6th Region of Africa to those of us on ground in Africa. ADC-NSA will be the driving force for inclusive research efforts through our partnership with the Center for Policy Research Africa (CPRA) so that we can have high-level policy recommendations on how to address some of the sensitive topics and Historical facts that keep us from developing the Africa we want to see.”
Their involvement will ensure that the research findings and discussions reach a broader audience, fostering awareness and understanding of the Historically Unique Group of the Africa Diaspora that are descendants of the Trans-Atlantic and Arab slave trade and their historical significance.
Dr. Ikechi Kelechi Agbugba, Director, Innovation/ Research & Development, ADC North and South America, and Dr. Eke Udochu, Head of the Programme, Historical Facts and Sensitive Topics of Africa of the Collaborative Research Group, respectively emphasized the significance of this partnership, stating, that: “This MoU marks a crucial milestone in our efforts to bridge the knowledge gap surrounding African historical facts and sensitive topics.
According to them, by collaborating with Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, we can amplify our research and engage in meaningful dialogue that will benefit scholars, students, and the wider public. ‘It is time to bridge the gap between research and industry and not to be held back by the forewalls of institutions; and with my diverse exposures in the academia and research arenas globally, I hope to work closely with the MOUA to fulfill ADC’s mission and vision which is already highlighted in the MoU document,’ Dr Ikechi Agbugba, asserts.
According to Dr Eke Udochu, the signing of the MoU signifies a commitment to the preservation of African historical facts and the exploration of sensitive topics, ultimately contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of Africa’s past and its impact on the present.
In addition, Mrs. Blessing C. Ohaeri-Chigozirim, ADC-NSA African Repatriation Assistance Officer-Nigeria and the first visiting research student of History & International Diplomacy under the Historical Facts and Sensitive Topics of Africa Programme speaks: ‘African nations, especially the giant of Africa (Nigeria) has a significant body of diasporic nationals who can contribute to the ongoing transformation in diverse ways, especially with my research study which focused on the Historic annual Ila – Oso Customary Festival and how it can unlock transformation in form of rural infrastructure in the study area and beyond.’’
From her research experience, Mrs Blessing Ohaeri-Chigozirim, who is also a Nigerian Immigration Officer retorted that the customary festival (Ila-Oso) attracts well-meaning individuals from the diaspora who can contribute to driving socio-economic advantages in the rural economy especially when approached from a vantage point of this potential. ’While studies abound on the economic and developmental roles of the diaspora, there is a paucity of evidence-based research on diverse specialties on how to drive mobilization with immigrants which also interfaces with diasporas of other countries of African origin, Dr Ikechi Agbugba added’’
Through collaborative research and engagement, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, the Collaborative Research Group, and the African Diaspora Collective aim to record significant strides in uncovering hidden narratives thereby promoting a more inclusive representation of Africa’s rich heritage.
As this partnership takes shape, the academic community and the public eagerly anticipate the outcomes of the joint research projects and initiatives that will emerge from this collaboration.