Over the next few weeks, the blog will feature updates from our principal investigators on all the projects under the HaB umbrella. These updates will reflect the discussions and activities that took place over the past year, the connections forged, the challenges faced, and outlines for the future.
Mobilities of Grassroots Pan-Africanism
After the constructions of the project infrastructures from June – December 2017, the process towards generating information for the production of a curriculum on Mobilities of Grassroots Pan Africanism took off. In the course of the last seven months, we carried out several field trips aimed at mobilizing support and sensitizing the field informants on the objectives, significance and the particularities of the methodology workshop i.e. Mobilities of Grassroots Pan-Africanism: Integrating Community-Generated Knowledge into a Pan-African Curriculum, which finally took place from 10-13 June, 2018 in the western regional twin-city, Sekondi-Takoradi. The preceding project site trips took us to the Kokrobitey Institute, Cape Coast, Takoradi, Ayanfuri, Dunkwa-on-Offin and Kumasi. We were unable to visit our sites in the Republic of Togo in view of the developing political crisis there at the time.
The Methodology Workshop
This event was a pioneering one, and of great significance to the Ghana project as it formed the foundation for the construction of a syllabus based on humanistic pedagogy. The Methodology Workshop, the first step towards the production of a syllabus on the Mobilities of Grassroots Pan-Africanism project, took place at Ahenfie Hotel in Takoradi in the Western region of Ghana, from June 10-13, 2018. The primary objective was to generate community knowledge in the production of curriculum. It was designed to develop community-generated knowledge to produce a more humanistic comprehension of Pan-Africanism, one that is sensitive to the daily practices of living in a globally directed world.
The workshop initiated a process of knowledge exchange through conversations to construct a new syllabus, based on humanistic knowledge of the mobilities across borders, for building a curricula in-situ on Mobilities of Grass Roots Pan-Africanism. The workshop was planned to demonstrate the value of, and potential in, co-creation of knowledge between academics affiliated to the Ghana project and the conventional informants of the field.
In the end, the workshop demonstrated how Grassroots Pan-African syllabus can be created not only within the high walls of the university but also by and through the voices, narratives, histories and other forms of knowledge practices of communities living across borders in neighboring countries to forge a grassroots pan-Africanism. We had a very worthwhile methodology workshop.
With no predetermined limit or boundary, our method was open-ended, allowing for open, exhaustive discussions/conversations by the field informants from Ghana, Gao (Mali), Niger and Benin Republic, who in their everyday lives resist national boundaries and challenge the nation state, xenophobia, genocidal attacks, and in some cases even construct political economies parallel to the state’s. These migrant community leaders have lived in Ghana for close to half a century, and have become something of griot-like figures, building their knowledge through their analyses of how the world is. They are regarded for their profound philosophical knowledge, as ‘walking libraries’ with up-to-date histories of their local communities. With wide-ranging historical knowledge they demonstrated illimitable possibilities for the formal educational establishment. They told their stories from memory extemporaneously elaborating the actions/events. Clearly, the formal classroom setting with its structural limitations and trappings of scripted literacy curriculum and test driven can benefit immeasurably from such wise, knowledgeable griot-like figures.
We employed round-table, focus group discussion, and individual narratives apropos everyday practices around trade, currency, food, music and neighborhood. Our emphasis upon community engagement was a bridge-building collaborative endeavor between all those producing, utilizing and creatively advancing knowledge in academic establishments such as University of Ghana, University of Ibadan and community activists based in various kinds of communities of practice and other spaces of life-long learning.
We encountered a few challenges during the period under review. The first related to our inability to visit the Togo/Benin border at Hilla Kondji due to the deteriorating political crisis in the Republic of Togo. The crisis seems to have subsided, and we can return to that site this year. The next challenge was compensation for participants in our project, a challenge that keeps recurring.
The Mobilities of Grassroots Pan-Africanism Syllabus
An important outcome of our activities culminating in the methodology workshop is that a first draft of a syllabus on Mobilities of Grassroots Pan-Africanism is now handy. We anticipate to share the final draft of the syllabus with the wider HaB community, and further to present to the University of Ghana’s Academic Board and the National Accreditation Board for acceptance and accreditation as a Level 200 Course at the Institute of African Studies, Legon.
Furthermore, we have produced one journal article based on our field studies, and two others are in progress:
1. Aidoo, K. O and Nubuor L. – Intra-Regional Mobilities, Seething Xenophobia and Grassroots pan Africanism – Implications for Ghano-Nigerian Relations
2. Aidoo, K. O – Togo/Benin Border: The People the Border Could Not Divide – Pan Africanism in Action (In progress)
3. Aidoo, K.O – Histories and Pedagogical Significance of West African Communities in Ghana Since Independence – The Case Study of Gao of Western Ghana (In progress)
First of all, we plan to have a Regional Platform Meeting to review project activities across the West African platform by the first quarter of 2019. Then, the Ghana Country Project plans to execute an Experimental School at the University of Ghana, Legon in collaboration with the Centre for Distant and Continuing Education at the University of Ghana, during which we hope to pre-test the Mobilities of Grassroots Pan Africanism syllabus.
Finally, this year we plan a small research grant of US$300 for thesis writing on grassroots pan-Africanism to a deserving student at the Institute of African Studies, Legon. An announcement has already been made at the ‘Pan-Africanism and African Unity’ PhD Class at the Institute of African Studies, Legon, and a decision will made by an independent body to be constituted in the course of the 2018/2019 academic year.
Kojo Opoku Aidoo