The African Humanities Program (AHP) is conducted by The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The program which currently supports five countries in Africa namely; Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa is aimed at encouraging and enabling research and writing of the highest quality by African scholars. AHP supports awards on the two fronts of Dissertation-Completion Fellowships and Early Career Postdoctoral Fellowships.
On Friday 15th August 2014, the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs (DVCAA) organized an application preparation workshop for prospective fellows who had expressed interest in the call for applications. Welcoming participants to the workshop, Dr. Susan Kiguli; herself a 2010 AHP Postdoctoral Fellow and Head, Literature Department, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), thanked Dr. Ernest Okello Ogwang for organizing the workshop as part of Makerere’s AHP coordination activities. She then commended all applicants for seeking to take advantage of one of the best Humanities Fellowships.
“The AHP fellowship promotes inter-scholarly interaction and communication and presents us all with the perfect platform to see how we can forge a way forward in research and promotion of humanities on the African continent,” said Dr. Kiguli.
The AHP applications preparation workshop targeted doctoral candidates in the final year of writing their dissertation as well as postdoctoral applicants who had obtained their PhD within the last eight years. The workshop coordinator Dr. Florence Ebila, School of Women and Gender Studies, CHUSS, announced that a total of 18 abstracts had been received and the two-day meeting would work with applicants to secure as many fellowship awards for Uganda as possible. “This is the most wonderful fellowship to help you come up with a book or journal. As a fresh fellow of the AHP, I personally look forward to completing my manuscript soon,” added Dr. Ebila.
In order to make the most of such opportunities, the Makerere University coordination office regularly invites AHP assessors to guide participants through the application process. Welcoming the facilitators, the DVCAA Dr. Ernest Okello Ogwang thanked Dr. Muhammed Umar-Burutai and Dr. Sani Aliyu from Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria and Prof. Edward Wamala from the Philosophy Department, CHUSS, for accepting to facilitate the workshop. He noted that the highest number of participants Uganda had ever sent was eight although this total has varied over the years. He also urged participants take advantage of sabbatical teaching opportunities at Ahmadu Bello University, the largest university in Nigeria and second largest in Africa after Cairo University, Egypt.
“This workshop is a unique opportunity for Uganda to better package her applications. Although colleagues from all around the world are lamenting over the state of affairs in the Humanities, we should not be complicit but move beyond lamentations,” persuaded Dr. Okello Ogwang. “Listen closely as the facilitators as they discuss your abstracts and carefully follow all instructions and this will help you understand the specific nature of the fellowship,” he added.
In his remarks as he officially opened the workshop, the Principal, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Prof. Edward Kirumira welcomed the various shifts in National and Global strategies as an indicator that the Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines were starting to make an impact.
“Nationally, we are witnessing the shift from Poverty Eradication to National Development Programmes, and from science and technology for excellence to science and technology for prosperity,” Prof. Kirumira noted. “This shift is based on the recognition that development programmes ought to be holistic and will move much slower if the Humanities and Social Sciences component is excluded” added the Principal.
He however urged colleagues in the Humanities and Social Sciences not to remain in their academic silos but to step out and apply their various disciplines to the development agenda. “I urge all participants to have the National Development Agenda in sight as you write abstracts. Humanities and Social Sciences may not be explicitly emphasized on the research agenda and so it is our responsibility to reach out to them. This exclusion opens up opportunities for us to go to them,” counseled Prof. Kirumira.
He also noted that as Public institutions continued to tighten their expenditure patterns, staff development initiatives were likely to be affected and opportunities such as those presented by AHP ought to be welcomed and wholly embraced.
“We look forward to having the next generation of academic leaders emerging from AHP especially as you continue to create networks. The money is not in the pockets but in the networks so make the most of them,” Prof. Kirumira concluded.
Commenting on the workshop one of the facilitators Dr. Sani Aliyu noted that the AHP fellowship is a mentorship platform for the academia to help each other advance their careers, “As such, you interaction should not stop at workshops such as this two-day event but continue through the networks you establish,” he said.
Dr. Muhammed Umar-Burutai who took participants through the application procedures emphasized that the fellowship was only meant to fund basic research. “This fellowship will only support those whose research is aimed at providing a greater understanding of the subject and so if your research is applied in nature, it may not be considered,” advised Dr. Aliyu.
The AHP Application Preparation Workshop 2014 coordinators Dr. Florence Ebila and Dr. Peace Musiimenta assured participants of success if they stuck to the application instructions. The humanities disciplines that qualify for support include; anthropology, archaeology, studies of fine and performing arts, history, linguistics, literature studies, studies of religion, and philosophy. Projects in social sciences such as economics, sociology, or political science, as well as in law or international relations, are not eligible unless they are clearly humanistic in content and focus. More information on the program may be obtained at htto://www.acls.org/programs/ahp.