Every year in March (this year April for some reason), the University of Ghana gives all its students a lavish gift: The Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lecture Series. A world known scholar will give a lecture, many times on development or similar, and the community comes together and celebrates the best academia has to offer. This year Professor Thandika Mkandawire from the London School of Economics is the speaker.
Earlier speakers have been Dr. Ernesto Zedillo, former president of Mexico (2012), Prof. Wole Soyinka (2007) , but I can’t find a proper list of them all…Anyway, Mkandawire is originally from Malawi, but has lived and worked all over the world, notably for the UN (for its Research Institute on Social Development), CODESRIA (organization for African Universities), and at universities in UK, Zimbabwe and even Sweden! I have come across his work on the past and future of universities in Africa, as it is a topic that interests me. So I am looking forward to this lecture series! As this was not enough, I have gotten interesting reactions to that he is lecturing in Ghana: “he is fun/wild/crazy” is often said, so now my hopes are even higher!
The lectures take place in the Great Hall at the very top of the Legon campus this week and are open to the public:
Wed 17th April, 2013 5 PM ‘From “Recovery” to Development”
Thu 18th April, 2013 5 PM “Bringing Social Equality Back in”
Fri 19th, 2013 2.30 PM “The University and “Catching up”
I believe the last leg will be very interesting for my research and think Prof is referring to a World Bank document “Accelerating Catch-Up: Tertiary Education for Growth in Africa” (2009) where Africa’s universities (should) catch up. I am guessing he thinks “catching up” is not the best image for the process that is ongoing on the continent, maybe it suggests Africa should “follow” the West, maybe he thinks the World Bank should not be trusted when it comes to higher education, maybe he thinks Africa’s leaders should aim higher than just catching up…In addition, I hope he says something about “knowledge societies”, the newest buzz word on the block, but the one who listens will find out!
A funny detail is that Mkandawire was also chosen to be the Distinguished Nyerere Lecturer 2013 in Tanzania and seem to combine the two lectures in one trip!
Photo borrowed from LSU.