When Bagele Chilisa, a Botswanan post-colonial scholar and research methodologies academic wrote about epistemological diversity- plurality of ways of knowing outside the models of the White men-, little did we know that a day is coming when a need would arise for us to reflect on what Bagele had called for in her book: “Indigenous Research Methodologies”! Little did we know that a team of inter-disciplinary researchers in Nigeria would go the line of what Chilisa called for- epistemological diversity- so soon. This team chooses to hear from the horses’ mouths of young Nigerian men and women, and represent their aspirations in these youth’s voices, as the youth become both actors and co-producers of knowledge while their voices echo farther and deeper. Without the collaborative efforts of PASGR, Mastercard Foundation and a team of researchers from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, this epistemological innovation is a mirage.
Inception Convening and Policy Research Uptake: The Storyline
Inception convening also known as inception workshop elsewhere is an avenue whereby people across different walks of life gather together to discuss a project, and suggest possible ways of executing the project. These people, also known as stakeholders from different disciplines, come together because they have a common goal to achieve- speaking in one voice. Thus, research has shown that organisations that factor in a gathering like this prior to the implementation of their projects, most times, hit the nail on the head by producing contents that drive policies, and keep policy actors talking.
This is the belief of the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR) and MasterCard Foundation. They believe that evidence-based discussions can be achieved through the inception workshop of every policy-targeted project they execute. Like the organisations had been doing through their partners at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, the latest of the organisations’ project focuses on young women and men’s aspirations and resilience: prospects for livelihoods, employment and accountability before, during and beyond COVID–19 not only in Nigeria, but also in six other African countries— Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda.
When we talk about projects that drive policies, influence policy actors and youth in Africa, these organisations are always at the forefront. No wonder the PASGR’s Executive Director, Dr Anthony Mveyange, remarked:
“African demographic dividend is both a blessing and a curse- a blessing in the sense that it offers African youth productive youthful call that can be used to change the continent. You have the productive workforce that can be applied, but it requires a lot of things. It requires policies; it requires investments; it requires systems. In the absence of these three elements, the risk is: the demographic dividend Africa enjoys can be a curse, and in fact an intergenerational curse in the sense that if people don’t find meaningful engagement, meaningful jobs, they are likely to resort to things that we all know.”
The Bigger Picture?
“What comes after this project?” is a likely question Nigerians may ask. Aside that the project is part of the big projects/series funded by Mastercard Foundation with a view to providing jobs for 30 million African young men and women before 2030 as revealed by the Foundation’s representative in Nigeria, Professor Ayobami Ojebode, it is also an opportunity to listen to the youth on their aspirations for better future through evidence.
“We strongly believe that everyday experiences of people, be the youth, be the elderly, be the other parts of the society, make an important part of evidence that we use in engaging our policy makers. Importantly, we are keen to put together what we call a community practice around youth aspiration and resilience in Nigeria, and work with them in that journey”, PASGR’s Head of Research and Policy, Dr Martin Atela, reiterates.