The Sixth KESSA-AISA-MMU annual interdisciplinary international conference was a huge success. The conference was attended by over 400 delegates from 14 countries and 35 universities. There were 376 papers presented. The conference was presided over by the Vice Chancellor of Multimedia University of Kenya Ambassador Prof. Festus Kaberia who opened the conference officially. He was the Chief Guest. The Vice Chancellor of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) Prof. Justus G. Mbae gave the keynote address at the conference. The President of the Kenya Scholars and Studies Association (KESSA) Prof. Kefa Otiso gave welcoming remarks on behalf of KESSA. The President of African Interdisciplinary Studies Association (AISA) Prof. Maurice N Amutabi gave welcoming remarks on behalf of AISA. The MMU Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Prof. Paul Mbatia welcomed the VC to open the conference. He pointed out that the University was friendly and guests were welcome to walk around and enjoy the great environment. Prof. Peter Neema-Abooki from Makerere University and Prof. Winston Akala Jumba gave keynote addresses on the second day.
Amb. Prof. Festus Kaberia welcomed delegates to MMU. He said that MMU was a public university in Kenya chartered three years ago and offers many competitive programmes. He revealed that the University had popular programmes which had been oversubscribed and the university filled all its available places in first intake by KUCCPS. He pointed out the need for universities to develop programmes that are relevant to Kenya’s development. The VC was happy that MMU and KESSA were hosting the conference together. He said that MMU will be willing to sign an MoU with MESSA to promote such collaboration in future.
Conference registration started at 2pm on 22nd June 2016 with many international delegates receiving their name tags, conference bags, conference programme and stationary. The conference was opened on time. The co-chair of the conference organising committee Prof. Maurice Amutabi welcomed delegates to the conference. He praised peer reviewers of abstracts and conference papers for doing a good job in making the quality of the conference high. He praised the conference organizing committee for doing a good job led by head of secretariat and chief organiser Dr. Linnet Hamasi. He thanked other members of the secretariat Sr. Lucy Achieng’, Eliud Opwoche, Alex Jackan, Alma Sikanga, Mercy Olimba, Abigael Kutwa, Berryl Ogutu, Donald N. Amugune, Dominic Chungo Oyaro, Maurice Simala, Magdalene Ndeto, Augustine Osinde, Myron Akala, Betty Amutabi, Caleb Oyaro, Livingston Jonanga and Lydia Kivuva. There were delegates who were coming to the conference for the 3rd, 4th and 5th time. He acknowledged that Kenya had presented the highest number of delegates followed by Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia, USA, Czech Republic, Botswana, Zimbabwe, United Kingdom, etc Prof. Maurice Amutabi recognised Fulbright scholar George A. Genyi Nigeria, Veronica Onjoro from Kenya and Bibiana Okoli from Nigeria, among others. There were many participants who were attending and presenting a paper at a conference for the first time. There were also many experienced scholars of full professor standing who were presenting in various sessions. There were many papers that we peer reviewed and published in the conference proceedings. The co-convenor of the conference Prof. (Eng) Abel Mayaka spoke eloquently about the advantage of studying at Multimedia University. He urged more participation at 2017 conference. Prof. Mayaka paid tribute to Mulimedia University for agreeing to host the conference.
During the conference, three books were launched by KESSA-AISA-MMU as part of the promotion of scholarship:
1.Democracy, Civil Society and Development in Africa edited by Prof. Maurice N. Amutabi and dedicated to Prof. Toyin Falola
2. Rethinking Development Paradigms in Africa edited by Prof. Maurice N Amutabi and Dr. Linnet Hamasi and dedicated to Prof. Justus G. Mbae
3. Africa and Competing Discourses on Development edited by Prof. Maurice N Amutabi and Dr. Linnet Hamasi and dedicated to Prof. Winston Jumba Akala
There were many speakers at the conference. Besides keynote speakers Prof. Mbae, Prof. Akala and Prof. Neema-Abooki, there were other speakers as well. Prof. Diane Ciekawy (Ohio University, Athens, USA) presented a paper on interface between religion and politics. During the closing session, she spoke about her many years of research in Kenya, including her time in Kenya in 1980a conducting research. She recounted how she was in Kenya collecting data for her PhD during the 1982 attempted coup d’état. She agreed to be among keynote speakers at the 2017 conference. Samson R. Akinola, (Osun State University, Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria), presented a paper on strategic management and how to turn African around. In closing session, he said that in twenty minutes presenters make great points and one learns a lot witin that short time than one can learn in a month because people put the best points forward. H pointed out the need for networking among scholars, saying that conferences should be the beginning of collaborations and exchanges between scholars and lamented that universities are increasingly reducing funding to research and academic activities preferring to send donations to weddings of daughters and sons of University Council members. Bibiana Okoli from the University of Ibadan and who is visually impaired lamented the fact that she does not get to meet ‘special’ people in conferences in Kenya. She wondered where special people in Kenya were, knowing that there are at least 1 per cent special people in all societies. She requested that in future, she would like to meet more special people at KESSA-AISA conferences.
Former Fulbright scholar, Prof. Bongani Bantwini (North West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa), and alumni of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said that we need to take an active role in researching to influence policy. He urged that African universities should allocate more funds for research if they hope to be part of the global contributions to trademarks and patents. For Prof. Amutabi and Prof. Akala, the coming of Prof. Bantwini was a kind of reunion after studying together as Fulbright scholars at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign many years ago. We made jokes that Prof. Bantwini was still in love with his backpack, which he loved to carry at the University of Illinois during our doctoral days in Graduate School.
Prof. John Musalia paid glowing tribute to the organizers of the conference. He said that such conferences allowed for crosspollination of ideas between scholars. This was the second conference that he was attending in the series and also agreed to come next year as one of the keynote speakers. The conference provided opportunity for any reunions. Prof. John Musalia and Prof, Mayaka attended the same high school and Prof. Musalia, Prof. Amutabi and Dr. Patrick Dikirr were year-mates at the University of Nairobi and Prof. Musalia were at Indiana University, Bloomington with Prof. Paul Mbatia the DVC Academics of Multimedia University. Prof. Nolutho Diko, (Mafeking Campus, North-West University-South Africa) gave words of encouragement during the closing session, calling for more focus on research and reciprocity in attending conferences. Other speakers included Dr. Laban Mgendi from Zimbabwe, Theresia Mdhongwa from Zimbabwe, Sr. Elizabeth Pilyesi from Malawi.
Uganda impressed in the mentoring category. Rev. Medard Rugyendo, the Principal of Bishop Barham University College (a constituent college of Uganda Christian University), Kabale, Uganda arrived with 9 staff members from his university. It was the single-biggest contingent from one university, but could not beat the record held by Benue State University which brought 25 participants to our 2013 conference. Prof. Neema-Abooki arrived at the conference with six graduate students pursuing PhD under him at Makerere University, Uganda.
Many delegates were impressed by the 2016 conference. A delegate from Zambia Coperbelt University said the following about the conference:
“….thumbs up for the work you are doing to advance African scholars through the AISA initiative. I must say I had a productive time at the conference. As a young scholar I learnt a lot from all the presentations and the interactions I had during the conference. Thank you for according me the opportunity to share my research findings with a wide research community at the AISA esteemed conference.”
There was a field excursion to various places around Nairobi on Saturday that took participants to Bomas of Kenya, Safari walk, Bomas of Kenya and other interesting attractions. The conference was officially closed by Prof. Maurice N. Amutabi, the President of African Interdisciplinary Studies Association and Vice President of Kenya Scholars and Studies Association (KESSA).
We welcome you to submit abstracts for the 2017 conference.