November 2020 - Amaechi Henry Okafor
Interview of the Fellow of the month
November 2020 - Amaechi Henry Okafor (PhD candidate at the Department of History, Concordia University, Canada)
"It takes a lot to put out a good finding, give it all it takes to leave a mark. As a researcher be open to guidance, criticism and corrections because they will decide how far you can go in the Academia. ."
Being part of the IFRA fellowship…
Describe yourself briefly
I am Amaechi Henry Okafor and I am enthusiastic about new knowledge, this has influenced my research over time. I am a first class graduate of French and a distinction graduate student of French Studies from the Department of European Studies, University of Ibadan. I have found interest in subjects such as Religion, Ethnicity, Culture (foreign and indigenous), History, Identity classes, Minority situations amongst others. I am currently a PhD candidate at the Department of History, Concordia University, Canada. My research is focused on masculinities before, during and after the Nigeria-Biafra war and how these all influenced the outcome of the war to our contemporary time.
Since when are you a fellow of IFRA-Nigeria?
I became a fellow of IFRA in 2015 but became very active in 2017 and attended various trainings, workshops and personality lectures.
How have you benefited from IFRA-Nigeria?
I have really benefited from workshops, seminars and distinguished personality lectures at IFRA, for example the workshop by Dr Elodie Apard on Bibliographical research in 2017 and the training by Dr Dominique Somda on fieldwork in the same year gave me great insights into oral histories and the effects of great bibliography on research production. Worthy of note was a training on how to save references on Zotero, it was anchored by Dr Emilie Guitard and Dr Elodie Apard, this made saving references an easy task. I have been privileged to attend almost all workshops held at IFRA Library and they have helped advance my research possibilities. Also among the seminars I have attended are those anchored by Adejoke Rafiat and Vincent Favier on religious practices and spatial appropriation at the University of Ibadan, this seminar in particular has increased my interest in religious research. Also a personality lecture of note is that by Logan February and it opens up new topics on sexuality as it borders on my proposed doctoral dissertation. Finally I attended a workshop titled “Designing a PhD research proposal” anchored by various experienced scholars, it helped in editing my final proposal that got me admitted into Concordia for a doctorate in History. I sometimes peruse the IFRA website and see my pictures in almost all workshops, seminars or events I attended, being with IFRA has been exciting.
Have you contributed to IFRA in any way?
I have mostly contributed to IFRA by bringing insights into discussions during trainings and workshops, I have contributed by helping IFRA propagate their mission as an institute that train researchers to be able to produce quality research, this has been helpful to graduate students who do not have any knowledge about IFRA or how they could get basic help with research questions. Though I have not been directly involved in any project by IFRA but anticipate projects as related to my research areas in my doctoral dissertation.
A bit more about yourself….
What are your main research interests?
My main research interest cuts across language and its influences, religion, African history, African and Caribbean literatures, war and genocide studies, Nigeria/Biafra war, Masculinism/Feminism, Gender studies, Mormon history, just to mention a few! I have found a way to intertwine most of my research interest productions.
What research project are you currently working on?
I am currently working on an oral project for the Claremont Graduate University, United States, this data collection is of Mormons in Nigeria and how their experience had been since joining the sect, the state gathered would be saved in an online archive to be accessed by scholars. I am also working on masculinity during, before and after the Biafran war, I will be using oral histories, books and archival records of both Nigerian government and defunct Biafran government. My research so far has cut across various aspects of religion and society life.
What is the main advice you will give to a junior researcher ?
Stay on course, be focused, be dedicated and most importantly be disciplined. It takes a lot to put out a good finding, give it all it takes to leave a mark. As a researcher be open to guidance, criticism and corrections because they will decide how far you can go in the Academia. I would say you should keep hope alive and research on something that would affect your immediate society.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I envision a future where I become a world renowned historian, becoming a faculty in a known University. My love for learning and teaching would have greater relevance in the academia. I see myself in the corridor of powers in this nation, my research has a vindication mission, the Nigerian society is steadily oppressed and I personally believe in the liberty of the masses.