The Department of History and Archeology hosted a virtual panel presentation on Sept. 23, on Rethinking African Historical, Social & Cultural Scholarship during & After Covid-19: Challenges & Opportunities” ".
The exciting webinar kicked off with a statement from the Vice Chancellor Prof. Kiama Gitahi who reiterated his support for the theme of the event noting that it was timely given the serious impacts of Covid-19 on humanity and its implications for the future. “The objective of this workshop is to generate important conversations on the current covid-19 situation that will shape Africa’s social and cultural scholarship.” Said the Vice Chancellor.
Faculty of Arts Dean, Prof. Ephraim Wahome in his remarks observed that pandemics had affected humans for a long time before in specific areas but Covid-19 had moved beyond borders to the whole world. “Covid-19 therefore is a live lab for historians.” He said.
Next a panel of Keynote speakers made presentations on various sub topics under the main theme of the webinar. The keynote speakers included:
- Prof John Lonslade, an Emeritus Prof. of Modern History, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, UK.
- Prof. Lovemore Togarasei, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Botswana.
- Prof. Siphamandla Zondi of the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
- Prof. Emma Hunter, Professor of Global and African History, University of Edinburg, UK
In his presentation, Prof. Lonslade noted that, “Africa has always had something to offer the world and there is therefore need for more collaborative engagements with the rest of the world.” “Cultural differences and diversity is what makes the world better.” He remarked.
Speaking about the interface between the history of religion and pandemics in Africa, Prof. Togarasei observed that although he appreciated the huge role of religion in the society, he was aware that sometimes religion was negatively used to create stigma around certain diseases. “We have seen previous cases where Christians for example would say people affected by HIV/AIDS were being punished by God or that God was punishing the world with Coronavirus because HE was angered by sinners”
Prof Zondi in his remarks lamented the fact that Africa had failed to learn from it’s past. “There is a sense of stative dynamism regarding change in that there where there are advances, there are drawbacks.” Said Prof. Zondi.
“Covid-19 might be the impact we need to revisit our history and form a basis for frank conversations with the rest of the world.” He added.
Prof. Hunter observed that Covid-19 provided an opportunity for scholars to reflect back and find better ways of working together going forward.
The Webinar was highly attended with over 150 participants from across the world including, Asia, Europe and Africa.
Derek R Peterson, a historian from the University of Michigan Tweeted, “Congratulations to @DrOmbongi and the Dept. of History @uonbi for convening 'Rethinking African Historical, Social & Cultural Scholarship during & After Covid-19: Challenges & Opportunities'--a hugely international Zoom-based seminar with consequential questions at stake.”
The Webinar was moderated by Department of History and Archeology Chairman, Dr. Ken Ombongi and Dr. Alex Wanjala from Literature department. Dr. George Gona from the Department of History and Archeology was a discussant.