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2019 Quarter 1 in Retrospect

Looking back in retrospect in the first quarter of the year 2019, my highpoint will be my participation in the ten-day international masterclass co-organised by IFRA-Nigeria and ENS-Paris.

Looking back in retrospect in the first quarter of the year 2019, my highpoint will be my participation in the ten-day international masterclass co-organised by IFRA-Nigeria and ENS-Paris. The classes held across two University campuses in Nigeria’s cities of Lagos and Ibadan – The Universit(ies) of Lagos and Ibadan respectively. The theme of the Masterclass was “Researching Public Spaces in African Cities”. The Masterclass was organized to build the capacity of students (10 Nigerians and 5 French) working on different areas of urban study and public space.

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The classes were both theoretical and practical. The theoretical sessions at the University of Lagos featured various lectures from an array of respected intellectuals, artist and practitioners from varied disciplines and professions. They included Saheed Aderinto, a Professor of History and the convener of the Lagos Studies Association; Dr. Laitan Lawanson, an expert in urban studies; Dr Pauline Guinard a geographer; Professor Filip De Boeck, a respected Professor of Anthropology with over three decades of ethnographic experience in the city of Kinshasha and Dr Emilie Guitard, anthropologist and deputy director of IFRA-Nigeria. We also engaged with Dieudo Hamadi, a multiple award-winning filmmaker; Polly Alakija, a plastic artist and chairwoman of the Lagos Arts Council; Qudus Onikeku, a Choreographer and Founder of the QDanceCenter; Onye Ozuzu, a Choreographer and Dean of the School of Arts, University of Florida; and Papa Omotayo, an Architect and Founder of Whitespace Creative Agency. Also, Ismaël Maazaz (Edinburgh University, UK) and Chrystel Oloukoï (Harvard University, USA) shared insights from their various ethnographic filed works.

After such intensive theoretical discussions on various approaches, methods, and tools for researching public space in African cities, we proceeded on more intensive and practical field experience in Ibadan. Divided into four different groups with a supervisor each, we conducted ethnographic fieldwork in various research sites in Ibadan. This afforded the opportunity to not only to witness the practicality of the theoretical debates but also to test firsthand the feasibility and rigor of some ethnographic methods we had learned. For instance, being a student immersed in the tradition of quantitative study of political science, it was interesting to conduct ethnographic fieldwork for the first time, something I had hitherto considered the exclusive preserve of sociologist and anthropologist. Equally interesting was the opportunity to see firsthand how mapping can be used to study not just a physical location but also sound, smell, etc. Also, I have never thought before now, there could be some nexus between art, films and academic researches. Beyond just using pictures and videos as research justifications and pieces of evidence, I learned that there is so much insight we as researchers can draw from the works of photographers, filmmakers, documentarist, etc. The works of Professor De Boeck were living proofs of this important possibilities, haven worked at various times with photographers and Artists in what he calls “photo-writing”.

I should equally add that it was fun too. Apart from mixing the intensive lectures and fieldworks with the opportunity to attend the Afro Space-Time danceGATHERING Lagos Festival and the Screening of two of @Dieudo Hamadis documentary, we also visited historic sites in both Lagos and Ibadan. Not to mention the various night-outs that became an everyday occurrence, especially with the French delegates who were bent on enjoying the nightlife in Lagos and Ibadan. I must say it was both educating and fun-filled. I have learned so much that I can’t wait to start applying them to my researches.

A big thank you to IFRA-Nigeria and ENS-Paris. To say that IFRA-Nigeria and ENS-Paris did a wonderful job with the Masterclass is an understatement. They are filling an important human capacity gap in the academia with their annual Masterclass, something for which the academia and the higher education sector should acknowledge and encourage.

2018 Year End Testimonial

The year 2018 was indeed an eventful one on all side, if you ask me. It was a year with mixed feelings; good and bad with many shades of pleasant and unpleasant experiences, and all the in-betweens. Like every hopeful and ambitious young man, I had two major targets for the year; secure a scholarship for my PhD abroad or/and secure Lecturing appointment in the country. You would agree with me that those were lofty targets to set, so I was determined to give it my all from the word “go”. But it is often said, that “Man proposes but God disposes” whatever that means. From the very first day of the year to this last day of the year, there was no way anyone would have predicted how, and with what speed things would happen to me, touching on my family, career and spiritual life. However, I can look back today being the last day and say God is faithful.

Who starts the year with the death of a loved one? At about 11am on Monday January 1, I entered into my grandmother’s room to confirm the news of her ‘passing’. Earlier on the said day, immediately after the Morning Prayer, we had gone into her room to clean her up and play with her the little we could, not knowing it was the last conversion we would be having with her. She opened her eyes (something she hadn’t done since she went into comma), looked into my younger brother’s eyes, calling out his name in full, “Olorunfemi, Jesufemi” and she closed them eyes back again. We felt some relief; mama is talking and recognizing faces now. We couldn’t understand the deeper meaning of what she said; she wasn’t just calling Femi’s name she was telling us that God loves her more than we do, and that she will be leaving us soon. Somehow, I couldn’t describe how I felt. Some part of me felt grief, some other part felt satisfied. Grief because I was not going to be seeing her around anymore; she was of age no doubt but who feels happy to lose a love one, old or not? But in my grief I could not but be grateful that my grandmother eventually acknowledged God and Jesus before dying knowing the battle we had convincing her to renounce idol worshipping and embrace Jesus Christ. I remember as a young boy, I once had a conversation with her over praying in the name of Jesus, she told me: “Would you renounce Jesus, if you were asked to, with all He done for you. Ifa rescued me from Abiku Spirit; of sixteen deliveries, only your father and uncle Taiye survived. So, I can’t renounce the worship of Ifa”. You can imagine my joy when she joins us in home devotions; frequent church services; step out to the altars to pray in Jesus’ name; and eventually mentioning Jesus as her last word before death. So my rejoicing superseded my grieving. This defined the most of my first quarter of the year.

The second quarter was a good one; some of my applications to conference were accepted and I got sponsorships to make my research presentations. A memorable one was my participation in the African Consortium for Law and Religion Studies Conference. Like is usual with most conferences of that standard, one gets to network with respected intellectuals in the field of endeavor; I had that opportunity as well. I look forward to engaging some of the friendships further in the New Year.

Similar to my second quarter experiences, in the third quarter, I also had opportunity to present papers in some international conferences. However, the period was not without its fair share of bitter pills. I was hit with the passing a beloved elder sister. The grief pushed me into some deep revelation experiences which I won’t forget in a hurry. It was in my hotel room in faraway Johannesburg, it was the morning of my paper presentation. I needed to put finishing touches to my presentation slides but I needed to put myself together. I woke early to study my Sunday school lesson for the week and that was where I got my divine encounter. Who says the Holy Spirit doesn’t comfort? I make bold to say He does. He comforted me and gave me a word for the bereaved family. Immediately, I wrote a short article to document my encounter, shared it on Facebook tagging my bereaved brothers and sisters. My joy knew no bounds when they each contacted to say they felt some comfort as a result of my little note.

Just when I thought the year was ending and none of my major targets for the year was going to be accomplished, God surprised me. You remember one of my targets was to secure a lecturing job. Through some strings of miraculous experiences, God answered the prayer in the final quarter of the year. While this may not sound spectacular to someone else, in this little breakthrough, I have experienced God in bigger ways. God wouldn’t allow me end the year on a sad note, just as I prepare for the festive season, I joined my classmates to participate in the convocation ceremony signaling the ceremonious end of a journey I had started as far back as 2015. Though long overdue, it left me in a joyous and appreciative mood.

Oh what a year, 2018 has been for me. It is indeed my year of little beginnings. I am grateful to God for all the experiences; good, bad and ugly. Thanks to all friends and families who have remained at my side through the year. I look forward to a GREAT year together with you all in 2019, because God is involved. I am particularly persuaded that the 2019 is going to be my year of GREAT EXPLOITS, especially coming from the prophetic experiences of the just concluded 2018 International Youth Camp of my Church.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

I have created this journal to pen down and share my thoughts/ideas on a variety of issues, ranging from research and travel adventures to my religious and political view points while I hope that I can get feedbacks.

This is borne out my conviction that experiences of life are better shared than left unshared. When we share we learn more. Whether it is in the form of a writing or reading a book or keep a blog, the essence is to share experiences and learn from the experiences of other people, because like Izaak Walton said “Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter”.

Thus, I will be starting out more consistently in the 2019 with a monthly update at first and hopefully with time, I can graduate into a weekly update and possibly before the year winds down I can do a daily update on a variety of topics. So, I invite you to join me in this adventure.

Comments are welcomed on how to maintain a consistent blog update lifestyle even when it’s not major preoccupation. I will appreciate hints from people who have successfully maintained a consistent blog journal like this while still preoccupied with main livelihood activities.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton