African reunion held in Ghana (7-9 December 2018)

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From 7 to 9 December 2018, the Kyoto University African Alumni Association (KUAAA) held a reunion at a hotel in Accra, Ghana. KUAAA was established in 2016 with the aim of promoting research collaboration and academic exchange between the University and African institutions. It had since organized two reunions, one in Nairobi, Kenya in 2016 and the other in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2017.

This third gathering brought together 11 graduates, most of whom are African researchers, for a chance to interact and network with each other. Joining them were eight KyotoU faculty, including two professors from the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies (ASAFAS): Drs Itaru Ohta and Masayoshi Shigeta, the latter of whom is director of the University's Center for African Area Studies (CAAS). The faculty and their former students spent their three days in Accra catching up with each other and discussing possible KyotoU-KUAAA collaborations.

On the first day, the African researchers in attendance shared news from their personal and professional lives, which helped foster a cross-national and -generational understanding of common issues and collaboration opportunities. Many also recounted experiences where their fieldwork benefited from techniques learned at Kyoto, with some going on to express a wish that more of their local peers could know about the career advantages of studying in Japan.

The following day featured a tour of the University of Ghana's Department of Animal Science, guided by alumnus Dr Boniface B Kayang, a senior lecturer at the department. The tour showcased an example of a KyotoU graduate actively working to develop the field and pass the knowledge on to future generations.

On the final day, Dr Kayang led another tour, this time to Osu Castle. Touring the fort, which from the 17th century onwards served as a base for slave trading, participants developed a greater awareness of some of the key topics in African area studies.

Reunion attendees from Africa represented nine different countries — Ghana, Gabon, Guinea, Malawi, and Tanzania, among them — reflecting the extended reach of the alumni network that has grown over the years on the continent. Kyoto University intends to further expand this network, through efforts that incorporate the results of the discussions held in Ghana 7-9 December.

CAAS Director/ASAFAS Professor Shigeta speaking

Some of the African alumni in attendance at the reunion

Reunion attendees

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