Thursday, October 27, 2011

News from Nairobi

This article was written by Joseph Muiruri and edited by Father Michael Kirwen, director, of the Maryknoll Institute for African Studies in Nairobi.

The Maryknoll Institute of African Studies (MIASMU) has so far recommended the conferring of a Master of Arts in African Studies degree to three of its students this academic year.

The first student, Apollinaire Munyampundu from Rwanda, dwelt on job creation through small-scale informal sector called (jua kali) ‘hot sun’. He highlights problems that hinder the sector from creating more employment opportunities such as inadequate capital, lack of experts, innovation shortcomings, advertising, dumping of imports, and lack of government support.

The second student, Solomon Ameh Eche from Nigeria, wrote a thesis that explores the understanding and promotion of socio-economic development through cultural values among the Maasai of Kajiado North in Kenya. It looks at what the Maasai understand by socio-economic development and the extent to which the government and the development partners have integrated socio-economic development with the Maasai cultural values. The study showed that this integrated socio-economic development among the Maasai is often hindered by the individualistic attitudes of the youth, educated and business people.

The third student, Jiodio Tsafack Marius from Cameroon, had a captivating thesis on the Abalogoli of Western Kenya and their concept of immortality. For one to be immortal, i.e., live on after death, one must have been morally upright while living. People living with HIV/AIDS are seen as immoral and therefore are denied immortality. The researcher explores whether the Abalogoli will eventually change this belief in view of new understandings about HIV/AIDS and how it is contracted.

What is unique about these theses, a specialty of the MIAS program, is that they are based on the data obtained by professional-quality field research entailing at least 150 field interviews.