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Report on the African Research Interest Group launch conference

On 24 June 2023, the African Research Interest Group (AFRIG) had its launch conference at the Chelmsford campus of Anglia Ruskin University and you'll find a summary of conference presentations and discussions below.

Who we are

AFRIG was set up with the aim to work towards raising awareness of the potential and capacity of academic and research staff of African origin in contributing to various university strategies and influencing policy. AFRIG also intends to collaborate, support, and produce quality research through competitive and commissioned funding. A key focus of the group is to conduct quality and rigorous research practice, contribute meaningful and targeted research to quality publications, and have a substantive research impact through utilising the indigenous knowledge and expertise within group members.

The conference

Our inaugural conference was held under the theme of Preserving African Culture and Knowledge, and we were fortunate enough to be graced by two keynote speakers: Debbie Ariyo, OBE, from AFRUCA and Chengeto Mayowe, a renowned writer and cultural heritage ambassador from Zimbabwe.

Debbie Ariyo works to safeguard and counter child trafficking, with a particular focus around safeguarding black and racially minoritised children and families in the UK. Debbie raised a number of pertinent research questions that need to be explored to promote the voices of marginalised communities that the agency AFRUCA support, through using research as an empowerment tool. Applying research as a tool for co-production and knowledge transfer links succinctly to AFRIG’s aim to have an impact on policy and practice changes/shifts, enhance, strengthen, and sustain community engagement through bespoke and culturally appropriate processes that build trust and mutual respect around research processes and social change in the UK.

Chengeto Mayowe, in line with the theme, discussed the importance of preserving one's culture in a powerful talk that looked at the importance of tradition and culture, giving powerful Zimbabwean-based examples that resonated with most of the audience members. Chengeto spoke about how tradition and culture was shared and preserved through practices like storytelling and proverbs. She also emphasised the need for African people to value and preserve their language as a crucial part of preserving one’s heritage.

Also presenting on the day was our own Samson Tsegay, who delivered a presentation on the topic of Teacher Education Policies and Practices in Africa. Samson discussed how teacher education programmes in many African countries had their roots in pre-colonial days. 

It was clear from conference discussions throughout the day that there is value in the preservation of African culture and knowledge, and also that research which is grounded in community alliances and other research groupings benefits the communities we work with and produces specialist and diversified approaches to addressing community needs.

2024 conference

Our next conference promises to be bigger and better. We'll publish details of the 2024 conference soon.