The research programme PADIR, establish at IFRA-Nigeria in 2019, aims at analyzing the field of institutional inter-religious dialogue in Africa from a critical perspective, with Nigeria and Tanzania as case studies.
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Inter-religious organisations, forums and projects have flourished at the global level since the beginning of the 2000s, especially after the 9/11 attacks. They differ from the ecumenical dialogue initiated by the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council as they are based less on theological discussions than on the idea that religious leaders are key actors in the solving of economic, social and political problems, especially linked to poverty, extremism and terrorism. Mobilizing the language of « peace building », many initiatives have been launched by religious organisations, NGOs as well as States and regional bodies as part of their diplomatic action.
With their population roughly divided between Christians and Muslims, both Nigeria and Tanzania have been considered important « laboratories » for inter religious dialogue in Africa. Perceived as being marred with conflicts and in a perpetual state of « crisis », Nigeria is also identified at a frontline of the global fight against terrorism and religious extremism. On the other side of the spectrum, Tanzania is seen as a stable country, a « heaven of peace » and example of religious coexistence, though under multiple threat linked to international Islamist networks, sporadic ethnic violence or separatism.
In both these cases, international involvement in the national fields of inter-religious dialogue has met endogenous dynamics. In Nigeria, several initiatives had been launched since the mid 1990s, with a new vigor since the return to democracy in 1999. Both at the federal and at the States' level, inter-religious forums and organisations have been created, often supported by local « big men » and politicians competing for votes and influence. In Tanzania, the rhetoric of « peace and stability » and the development of local inter-religious dialogue forum has been parallel to the growing involvement of religious leaders in the political sphere, in the context of the perpetuation of a dominant party system and authoritarian politics despite the return to multipartism in 1992.
The objective of PADIR is to identify the actors, organisations and networks that have contributed to the emergence of the field of inter-religious dialogue and its functioning, both from a local, national and transnational perspective. Through the case studies of Nigeria and Tanzania, it intends to understand better inter-religious relations, the dynamics of both Christian and Islamic religious fields, as well as the complex relationships between religious and political actors.
This project will combine several qualitative methods including semi-structured interviews with national and international actors of the inter-religious dialogue field in Nigeria and Tanzania ; biographical interviews with key religious figures involved ; observation of projects and initiatives on inter-religious dialogue ; social network analysis.
The comparison between two contrasted cases will highlight the similarities and differences between the Nigerian and Tanzanian approaches to inter-religious dialogue as well as the factors explaining these variations.
Two workshops will be organized in Dar es Salaam and Ibadan in 2020 and publications are expected in 2021.
Dr Cyrielle Maingraud Martinaud
On March 22, 2019, The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) organised the announcement of the new entrepreneurs selected to join the Programme’s fifth cohort. Entrepreneurs and former beneficiaries but also representatives of foreign countries, agents of Development Financial Organizations and public figures such as the First Lady of Nigeria met at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
The afternoon began with two different meetings taking place. On the one hand, the presentation of the selection process, which is partly outsourced to a firm called Accenture Development Partners. Most officials attended this presentation while entrepreneurs and beneficiaries were listening to a panel of five former beneficiaries interviewed on the scene of the Congress Hall invited to tell their “success story”. Finally, later on in the afternoon, guests gathered around the main scene to follow the selection announcement. The originality of the announcement was undoubtedly the number of beneficiaries: 3,050 entrepreneurs around the continent. While the TEF supports 1,000 entrepreneurs, its partners (African Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, Red Cross, the Benin Republic among others) help 2,050 additional entrepreneurs.
The main objective for the two researchers was to make contacts with entrepreneurs and benefit from their contacts with other beneficiaries as to reach them more easily once on the field in Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire. The assumption was that using interpersonal networks would be complementary to the exhaustive database given by the TEF. It would thus help to have complementary information on beneficiaries (failure or success, migration…) and maybe target those reluctant to reply to formal contact through emails.
However, most of the entrepreneurs present this day were Nigerian. Even though this is not surprising as the event was taking place in Abuja, it underlines one macro characteristic of the Programme: the share of Nigerian beneficiaries, though variable depending on the cohort, is always preponderant. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, Nigerians represented respectively 49,7%, 59,1% and 57% of the beneficiaries.
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The French Institute for Research in Africa, Nigeria (IFRA-Nigeria) together with the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and the French Development Agency (AFD) have signed a partnership agreement on the programme “Supporting Entrepreneurship in Africa”. Beginning in 2015, the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) is a philanthropic initiative launched by the Tony Elumelu Foundation, which goal is to identify and empower young African entrepreneurs. The research aims at studying the impact of the programme in four targeted countries, namely Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroun and Côte d’Ivoire.
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The research program TREEBADAN/IGI’BADAN “Local Knowledges and Relations to Remarkable Trees in Ibadan (Oyo State, Nigeria)”, aims at establishing an assessment of the natural heritage of the city of Ibadan (Oyo State, Nigeria), from a botanical, but also a historical and an anthropological perspectives.
This will involve drawing up an inventory of the trees within the city seen as “remarkable” according to their botanical characteristics (Modelled on the inventory realised by the cities of Paris or New York for instance), but also as supports of the urban memory and identities, markers of specific historical events (rituals, judgments, political or festive gatherings, battles, markets, etc.), places and objects of sociability and urbanity (places of meeting, worship or trade, elements of the local pharmacopeia, objects of ornamentation and attachment, etc.) and tools for urban governance. One of the objectives of the project is also to evaluate the effective tree biodiversity of Ibadan and how it is perceived and used by Ibadan citizens, through an ethnoscientific approach.
More broadly, TREEBADAN aims at deciphering what the relationships of Ibadan’s city-dwellers and authorities to urban trees and nature tell us about:
- the urbanistic history of the city
- the construction of an urban memory and the definition of urban social and cultural identities, modes of sociability and of “living-together” in the public spaces of the city
- the governance of the city, captured through its management of natural elements over the years
To that end, the research is conducted by a multidisciplinary team of researchers, in social sciences, humanities, urban studies and natural sciences, from France and Nigeria. The scientific team partners also with artists to capture local relations to urban trees through a more aesthetic and poetic apprehension, and to disseminate the results of the program to a wider audience. Finally, TREEBADAN results could lead to a practical programme aiming at recognising the urban remarkable trees as part of the natural, but also cultural heritages of Ibadan, and from that at protecting them, so to as to fight against deforestation and to preserve urban biodiversity, starting from local knowledge and relations to urban nature.
A kola tree in front of a photo studio at night, Irefin, Ibadan, S. Chevalme
The program is directed by Dr Emilie Guitard, anthropologist and researcher at IFRA-Nigeria. Together with Adedeji Adebayo, PhD student from the University of Ibadan, they have started since 2017 to conduct ethnographic fieldwork by realising open interviews with citizens living close to the trees and/or interacting with them on a daily basis, along with the relevant municipal authorities, and by realising sessions of participant observation to understand the interactions between these different actors in social, economic, political or religious terms with and around the urban trees. Dr Guitard and A. Adebayo are also carrying ethnoscientific data collection to evaluate the local knowledge and uses regarding general and urban tree biodiversity.
As a second step, Dr Guitard will partner with Dr Saheed Aderinto, associate professor of History at Western Carolina University (USA), to redraw the history of the management of the urban natural elements, notably trees, by the successive authorities of Ibadan. A geographer or an urban-planner will also be associated to the program to study the spatial repartition of trees in the city, according to their species and uses, but also in line with the history of their public management. Within this frame, the trees identified as remarkable will be geo-located, to produce a digital map of urban trees in Ibadan, including not only botanical, but also anthropological and historical data. Finally, a botanist will be associated to TREEBADAN to assess the tree biodiversity of Ibadan and proceed to the botanical identification and dendrochronological dating of the urban trees said to be “remarkable” by the city-dwellers.
At last, to capture the local relations to urban nature through an aesthetic and poetic apprehension, and notably to describe the urban atmosphere under the urban trees and its variation depending on the neighbourhood, the time of the day or the type of activities going on there, the scientific team is collaborating with French and Nigerian visual artists, photographers and documentary film maker. In October 2017, the French graphic designers and visual artists Elodie and Delphine Chevalme (better known as Les Soeurs Chevalme) spent two weeks doing fieldwork with Dr Guitard and A. Adebayo to realise drawings and pictures around “remarkable” trees in the historical centre of Ibadan. These artistic productions will be presented to the general audience of Ibadan, Nigeria and abroad through various mediums, including a multimedia exhibition and a coffee table book, together with brief texts by the members of the scientific team. As a second step, the scientific team will also partner with the French and Congolese documentary film maker Alain Kassanda, to realise a poetic documentary on the relations of the inhabitants of Ibadan to urban trees.
A garage under an Almond tree, Ita Baale, Ibadan, E. Chevalme
Finally, the results of TREEBADAN could be used to nurture applied programs to fight locally against deforestation by preserving the urban biodiversity. The trees listed as remarkable will be presented to Ibadan and Oyo State authorities to be patrimonalized and protected, as part of the city heritage. The data produced within the frame of the program could also be mobilised to realize a botanical walk throughout the city, presenting by means of panels the main information concerning the most remarkable trees in the different registers studied (botany, history, anthropology). Commented tours of this walk could also be organised in collaboration with the researchers and the inhabitants interviewed for the city schools, together with the screening of the documentary and possibly the presentation of the multimedia exhibition. TREEBADAN/IGI’BADAN will in this context serve as a tool to raise awareness on the wealth of Ibadan’s trees as part of its natural and cultural heritages, and on the necessity to preserve them, starting from the local knowledge and relations to them.
A Fig tree in front of the Ogunmola compound, Bere, Ibadan, D. Chevalme
- Dr. Emilie Guitard, Scientific coordinator of the project (IFRA Nigeria, France/Nigeria)
- Dr. Saheed Aderinto, Historian (Western Carolina University, USA)
- Adedeji Adebayo, Research assistant (PhD student, University of Ibadan, Nigeria)
- Elodie and Delphine Chevalme aka « Les soeur Chevalmes » (visual artists and graphic designers, France)
- Alain Kassanda (documentary film maker, France/DRCongo)
NaijaSynCor Research Project
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NaijaSynCor (A Corpus-based Macro-Syntactic Study of Naija, aka Nigerian Pidgin) takes an exhaustive and in-depth look at the structure of Naija (Nigerian Pidgin) in Nigeria today. Spoken by educated Nigerians, it has been proved to develop in Lagos as a discrete language, separate from Nigerian English. This study proposes to assess whether this holds true for the rest of Nigeria where Naija is spoken by over 75 million speakers. It examines diachronic, diatopic, diaphasic, diastratic, and genre variation.
The project is a collaborative effort of two Nigerian leading experts on Naija (F. Egbokhare & C. Ofulue) and two research units that have proved their expertise in corpus annotation in previous programmes: Llacan, on lesser-described languages; Modyco, on the interaction of prosody and syntax in French and the development of large treebanks, and. The macrosyntactic framework developed in the ANR Rhapsodie project (Lacheret, Pietrandrea & Tchobanov 2014) has proved to be particularly efficient in dealing with the specificities of oral corpora, e.g. piles stacking, disfluencies, repetitions, discourse markers, overlaps, co-enunciation, false starts, self-repairs and truncations. This method is data-driven, inductive (the relevant units are identified through annotation) and modular.
The tools developed by the research team in these previous corpus study programs are robust and mature enough to focus on the linguistic problem posed by Naija: in its geographical and functional expansion, does Naija maintain its status as a discrete language, separate from Nigerian English, or does it undergo decreolization? While answering this question, the research programme aims at overcoming two remaining technological challenges, (i) automatic identification of illocutionary units based on intonation data as a parameter; (ii) building a parser integrating intonation data as a parameter.
Through the creation of a deeply annotated 500 Kw corpus, the project documents the emergence of Naija as a language at the national level, challenging existing theories of the development of creoles and languages in contact. Capitalizing on the latest developments in the area of corpus annotation, this innovative approach to the dynamics of contact and change in the areas of human behaviour and sociology of language will powerfully impact the methodology and technology of research on emerging languages.
Starting: February 1st, 2017
Duration: 42 months
Meet the team
Partner #1: LLACAN, UMR 8135, Langages, Langues et Cultures d’Afrique Noire (Inalco – CNRS) : http://llacan.vjf.cnrs.fr/
Partner #2: MODYCO, UMR 7114, Modèles, Dynamiques, Corpus (Université Paris -Ouest Nanterre La Défense – CNRS) : https://scanr.enseignementsup-recherche.gouv.fr/structure/200112501N
- Bigi, Brigitte, Bernard Caron & Abiola S. Oyelere. 2017. Developing Resources for Automated Speech Processing of the African Language Naija (Nigerian Pidgin). 8th Language and Technology Conference: Human Language Technologies as a Challenge for Computer Science and Linguistics, 441–445. Poznan, Poland.https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01705707.
- Caron, Bernard. s.p. Clefts in Naija, a Nigerian pidgincreole. Linguistics Discovery 41pp.
- Caron, Bernard. 2018a. NaijaSynCor. Methodological and technical challenges of a corpus-based study of Naija (a post-creole spoken in Nigeria). Keynote address presented at the SYWAL 2018 (3rd Symposium on West African Languages) , 28th-29th September, Warsaw.
- Caron, Bernard. 2018b. Could Naija (aka Common Nigerian Pidgin) be a solution to the curse of indigeneity? (Nigerian Pidgin: E fit go be di future?). Presented at the Neuvième édition du CAAS (Consortium for Asian and African Studies, CAAS 2018), Inalco, Paris.
- Courtin, Marine, Sylvain Kahane, Kim Gerdes & Bernard Caron. 2018. Establishing a Language by Annotating a Corpus: the Case of Naija, a Post-creole Spoken in Nigeria. In Sandra Kübler & Heike Zinsmeister (eds.), Proceedings of the Workshop on Annotation in Digital Humanities co-located with ESSLLI 2018, vol. 2155, 7–11. Sofia, Bulgaria: CEUR. Workshop Proceedings.
- Gerdes, Kim, Bruno Guillaume, Sylvain Kahane & Guy Perrier. 2018. SUD or Surface-Syntactic Universal Dependencies: An annotation scheme near-isomorphic to UD. Workshop Paper presented at the Universal Dependencies Workshop 2018 (UDW 2018), EMNLP 2018, Brussells. http://universaldependencies.org/udw18/PDFs/33_Paper.pdf (20 November, 2018).
- Oyelere, Abiola S. 2018. Vowel Nasality in Naija. Paper presented at the SYWAL 2018 (3rd Symposium on West African Languages) , 28th-29th September, Warsaw.
- Oyelere, Abiola S., Candide Simard & Anne Lacheret-Dujour. 2018. Prominence in the identification of the focus elements in Naija (Nigerian Pidgin). PROSLANG, 12–13. Wellington, New-Zealand.