Reflections on March & April 2014…and why I’ve not been blogging…plus the importance of May Day!

 Key words: #ISA2014, #Prof.RobertKeohone, #Prof.AmyStambach, #UniversityOfOxford,  #BritishLibrary #ConfuciusInstitute #Mining&PoliticalTransformation

So, I landed home last night after gone sleepless for 36 hours including 12hours flight. Luckily, I realized that today is May Day. Well, I could easily forgot about it because I never celebrate public holidays apart from the religious ones. This is one of the negative effect of ‘not being formally employed”…you never have public holidays. Well, today’s May Day made a lot of sense. I rested. My body could not take it anymore. I had to sit back. I didn’t feel guilt partly because I knew no one is going to work today…so I had an excuse to rest and do some personal stuff such as cleaning my tiny apartment and laundry.  I then thought of my blog and many pending issues to blog…plus, uuugh!! Book Reviews…

So, I will briefly enter my adventures in March and April 2014. These two months have been extremely busy but with lots of lessons learnt, experience, and exposure.

In March, I spent time working on my writings. I had good working time in England especially at the British Library where I managed to put some significant work. I must say, I was happy to see my PhD thesis in the reference list while looking for archival references…how nice although obvious! I also attended and presented a paper at the ISA 2014 in Toronto. My paper was on interfaith advocacy initiatives against poor mining policies in Tanzania. The paper was received very well plus constructive feedback from participants. This paper is informed by critical approaches of political economy, which critically expose the unfairness of neoliberalism. At ISA, we are now developing a working section on religion and globalization from critical approaches. We have had panels on that in two consecutive years and we are expanding the section.

In addition to those, I attended many other panels in ISA and listened to round table discussions led by top IR scholars including Joseph Nye and Robert Keohane. I very much enjoyed a round table/reception held in honour of Keohane’s work and his significant contribution to Political Science and IR scholarship. I should have blogged about it…but since I didn’t, let me say something short about him. I was stroke by his humbleness. Most impressively, however, was the emphasis he put on teaching. His speech focused on teaching (as opposed to research), he talked about how he values his students and he remembers them. This was a shock for me because in academia there is so much focus on research that no one gets promoted through teaching…this needs to change- (actually, I’ve a feeling, it is…may be…I will touch on it in my next blog entry).

In early April, my research supervisor and mentor at the University of Oxford, Prof. Amy Stambach, visited Dar-es-Salaam for our ‘Translating Cultures’ research project (a project on Chinese language teaching and learning). We did a pilot study at the University of Dar-es-Salaam, whereby the management and the Confucius Institute were extremely supportive to us. We managed to have meetings with management of both the University and the Confucius Institute, conducted structured conversations with Chinese teachers, and observed Chinese language classes.  We also did interviews to potential research assistants in the future.

Impressively, we had rich discussions with Dr. Kitila Mkumbo, who is an expert on Education. We spoke about methodology and other things that were full of insight with regards to education related research. Bless him.

In addition, we had conversations with Chinese language teachers outside the University. There are Chinese language teaching centres in Dar-es-Salaam that informally teach Chinese language to business people. We also had insightful conversations with Chinese shop owners and their Tanzanian staffs in Kariokoo Market. Moreover, we spoke to a number of business people in Dar who partners with Chinese business people. All these were eye opening and full of insight for our project.  This project is in its initial stages. Upon completion a number of publications will come out… so I will stop talking about it now…till then!

Things that I never cease to learn are ‘work ethics’, ‘effectiveness’, and ‘efficiency’. Working with Prof. Stambach has been an invaluable experience for me. I always count myself blessed and I learn so much from her in particular in those three areas, which are very crucial in research.  For me, being in Oxford is excellent, but it makes more meaning working under her. She is my hero! And as my logo goes…it’s only BYGRACE!

So after a whole month away, I had to be in my office in Moshi to catch up with consultancy and rural development. I only had few days for that. I managed to get feedback from my team and plan way forward. A group of rural based women will soon get their loans from NSSF… we have to follow up with the District Cooperative Officer to hand in the clearance certificate. In short, rural development requires patience, as it’s a gradual process!

So after Easter I went back to UK, this time to the University of Edinburgh to present a paper.  Another paper on mining, but this one was on Mining and Political Transformation in Tanzania. It’s a co-authored paper with Zitto Kabwe, Tanzanian MP for Kigoma North. We were keynote speakers. The paper was unique as it looked at the evolution of Mining Act (2010) using historical institutionalist approach and personal reflections of the events. We hope to publish the paper somewhere…fingers crossed!

Overall the conference was eye opening with various papers on mining, oil and gas, in Tanzania, DRC, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and other countries. Leading scholars on mining in Tanzania were there including Dr. Deborah Bryceson of the University of Oxford, who has recently (2014) edited a book on Mineralization published by Routledge. She will be launching this book at the University of Dar-es-Salaam on June 12th. There was also a special event where we watched a film ‘Miners Shoot’ on Mariakana Massacre. The movie director, Rehad Desai, was there and so we had a discussion on that after.

Following Edinburgh, I went to the University Oxford. The most interesting part was attending Prof. Arjun Appadurai’s talk. His talk, as Prof. Stambach commented at the end of the session, was “unsettling”. My next blog entry is about this challenging talk to us all…who in one way or another are in University business…

 Thank you!

One thought on “Reflections on March & April 2014…and why I’ve not been blogging…plus the importance of May Day!

  1. Felix Kyalo

    Excellent article..As always a pleasure to read your blog and the insightful pieces you post this one being no exception – excellent article as usual…I am keen on your study on the extractive industry in Tanzania particularly on the paper Co – authored with Kabwe as I am working on a related study to inform current discourse in Kenya on the Mining Bill 2014. Is there any way I can have access to your paper as well as the Tanzania Mining Act? I would immeasurably appreciate! Shukrani sana


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