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Showcasing Cardiff University’s African research

14 December 2023

Seven researchers are photographed in Cardiff University's Main Building
(L-R) Dr Nicki Kindersley, Dr Mariam Kamunyu, Professor Ambreena Manji, Professor Derek Jones, Dr Joe Williams and Dr Romie Nghitevelekwa

Cardiff University researchers have presented on the social, economic, and environmental impact of their African research and their longstanding equitable relationships with collaborators on the continent.

The projects showcased the diversity of work underway across Africa from the commercialisation of agriculture to the histories of labour and education, and from women’s status in the law to water challenges, and the need for MRI for all.

The event aimed to profile and support Cardiff University’s ongoing African research by identifying mutual research interests and overlapping expertise between Cardiff University staff, government, and civil society.

A performance by the Lanyi West African Ensemble from Cardiff University’s School of Music got the event underway.

A performance by the Lanyi West African Ensemble from Cardiff University’s School of Music.
The Lanyi West African Ensemble led by Landing Mané

Led by Landing Mané and established in 2013, the ensemble gives Cardiff University BA and BMus students the opportunity to study a range of instrumental, vocal and dance traditions, approaching repertoire from a range of West African cultures.

Professor Ambreena Manji, Dean of International for Africa at Cardiff University, said: “The showcase brought together the tremendous range of African research being done by colleagues across the University.

“The technical virtuosity of the Lanyi Ensemble set the tone, reminding us of the unique soundscape of a multilingual, multicultural Wales.

“It was very good to see colleagues from across the University, government, and civil society finding much in common and expanding their networks.”

Dr Romie Nghitevelekwa presented her work on millet grain as an example of the integration of rural subsistence agriculture into the market economy in Namibia.

Dr Romie Nghitevelekwa.
Dr Romie Nghitevelekwa is a British Academy Visiting Fellow at Cardiff University who is being supervised by Professor Manji

A social anthropologist from the University of Namibia, Dr Nghitevelekwa showed how her project provides a historical and contemporary analysis of the extent and nature of the commercialisation of subsistence agriculture in rural communities across the region.

Dr Mariam Kamunyu spoke about her project on theorising African feminist judgments.

Dr Mariam Kamunyu
Dr Mariam Kamunyu, British Academy International Fellow at Cardiff University 2023-2026 under Professor Manji’s supervision

A feminist and human rights lawyer from Kenya, Dr Kamunyu described the history of feminist judgments and their utility in putting alternative perspectives before the judiciary and influencing the legal profession.

Dr Nicki Kindersley shared her work on the histories of labour and education in South Sudan.

Dr Nicki Kindersley.
Dr Nicki Kindersley is a Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of History Archaeology and Religion

Drawing on her research projects with colleagues at the University of Juba and Rift Valley Institute in South Sudan, including projects on ethical research standards and histories of education, Dr Kindersley reflected on post/colonial histories of care and work, which are at the heart of her 2024/25 International Social Research Foundation Early Career Fellowship.

Dr Joe Williams presented his work on global development and the contradictions of ‘new water'.

Dr Joe Williams.
Dr Joe Williams is a Lecturer in Cardiff University’s School of Geography and Planning.

Dr Williams’ research aims to understand the changing relationship between environment and society, with a particular focus on water challenges. Dr Williams has recently been awarded a European Research Council Starter Grant for a project on the transition to unconventional water resources which aims to understand how new water technologies will shape access to water in African contexts.

Professor Derek Jones outlined the Centre’s work with colleagues in Ghana and Uganda to develop low-cost MRI scanners.

Professor Derek Jones.
Professor Derek Jones is the Director of Cardiff University’s Brain Research Imaging Centre.

The scanners, which are powerful medical diagnostic tools for illnesses including cancer, neurological illness, and heart disease, are expensive and not readily available in low income and rural communities.

Professor Jones discussed the need to democratise MRI, bringing the technology to the patients who need it.

Professor Manji added: “I look forward to following the progress of these projects and to supporting more excellent African research in 2024 and beyond.”

Next year, Cardiff University’s new Africa Strategic Advisory Group – comprised of members from funding councils, government, and the cultural sectors – will convene for the first time.

The group will support Professor Manji in her role as Dean of International for Africa to deliver an action plan for research and engagement work across the region.

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