04/2024 – Call for applications for the 6th CODESRIA-CASB Summer School in African Studies and Area Studies in Africa

Call for applications for the 6th CODESRIA – CASB Summer School in African Studies and Area Studies in Africa

April 2024

We are delighted to announce that the registration for the sixth CODESRIA – CASB Summer School in African Studies and Area Studies in Africa is now open.

Topic: Making Knowledge Policy-Relevant: The SSH’s Role in Global Sustainable Development
Venue: Dakar, Senegal
Date: 26-30 August 2024
Application deadline: 31st May 2024

The link to the detailed description of the Summer School can be found here: https://codesria.org/6th-codesria-casb-summer-school-in-african-studies-and-area-studies-in-africa/

Nous avons le plaisir d’annoncer que l’inscription à la sixième Ecole d’été du CODESRIA – CASB en études africaines et études régionales en Afrique est maintenant ouverte.

Sujet : Rendre la politique de la connaissance pertinente: les rôles des SHS dans le développement durable mondial
Lieu : Dakar, Sénégal
Date : 26-30 août 2024
Date limite d’inscription : 31 mai 2024

Le lien vers la description détaillée de l’école d’été se trouve ici : https://codesria.org/fr/6eme-ecole-dete-du-codesria-casb-en-etudes-africaines-et-etudes-regionales-en-afrique/

Joël Fabrice Djaha – Six months in Basel: an enriching experience

Joël Fabrice Djaha – Six months in Basel: an enriching experience

Joël Djaha
Joël Fabrice Djaha

On 14 February 2023, my stay in Basel began with a guided tour of Basel’s main landmarks, suitcase in hand, accompanied by Veit Arlt, the scientific coordinator of the Centre for African Studies at the University of Basel. The tour was on foot, but I realised that mobility in the city is suprisingly easy. There are regular buses, trams, and self-service bicycles.
This ease of getting around encouraged me to walk to the Centre for African Studies at the University of Basel, where I had my workplace. Inspired by the centre’s working environment, I went almost every day except Sundays. I reserved this day for community activities (church, outings and socialising with friends). On my way to the Centre for African Studies, I was a little suprised to see people swimming in the Rhine when the weather was nice.  When the first snow came, I understood why they took advantage of the warm, beautiful weather in summer and early autumn for this activity!

Basel: a quiet city, ideal for reflection… and I benefited from it

The silence that characterises the city of Basel inspired me to make great progress on my PhD thesis. The silence also allowed me to recharge my batteries and be inspired while writing, far away from the daily routine in Côte d’Ivoire and the difficulties of moving around in the city of Abidjan. I was pleasantly surprised by the silence; sometimes I could even hear my own footsteps as I walked. However, this silence was interrupted by a “noise” that showed me another side of Basel, a lively one.

Then came the Basel carnival: for me a symbol of intergenerational exchange

The silence I was enjoying was interrupted twice, for particular reasons. The first time, the silence gave way to the Vogel Gryff. I remember being deep in thought at the Centre for African Studies when I suddenly heard cannon shots. It was then that I remembered that 20 January 2024 is a special day for the people of Basel. I discovered for the first time how deeply rooted they are in tradition.

At the beginning of February 2024, a second event took place: die Basler Fasnacht. As rich as the Vogel Gryff, the carnival of Basel is a symbol of intergenerational sharing between adults and children beyond its colourful, musical, and other aspects. It was a premiere to see children sharing sweets with adults, while in other cultures the children ask for them.
As a enthusiastic photographer, I was able to capture the Basel carnival and the photos are magnificent! I enjoyed these moments so much that I decided to illustrate this blog post with a photo from the carnival.

An experience to relive

My stay in Basel was undoubtedly one of the best experiences of my life. Apart from the aspects related to my doctoral research, I immersed myself in a new culture (history, culture, cuisine), and I learnt a lot from this city at a crossroads. In my opinion, mobility from South to North should be strengthened in order to rethink the sharing of knowledge.

Words of thanks

At the end of this trip, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to its success. My special thanks go to the Fondation Oumou Dilly, the Centre for African Studies at the University of Basel and all the lovely people who helped to make my stay unforgettable.

Reisch Vanel Attipo – My memorable experience in Basel

Reisch Vanel Attipo – My memorable experience in Basel

Reisch Vanel Attipo
Reisch Vanel Attipo

My stay in Basel, Switzerland, was an enriching experience in many ways. Located at the crossroads of Switzerland, France and Germany, this cosmopolitan city offers a unique fusion of cultures, a picturesque landscape and a stimulating atmosphere for study and discovery. Through this note, I will share my impressions of the captivating landscape, the vibrant multicultural aspect of the city, as well as the inspiration I have found within the Centre for African Studies Basel, with special thanks to the Fondation Oumou Dilly for its invaluable scholarship.

The enchanting landscape

As soon as I arrived in Basel, I was immediately struck by the natural beauty that surrounds the city. The banks of the Rhine provide a picturesque backdrop with their elegant bridges and lively quays. Green parks dot the city, offering peaceful spaces in which to relax and recharge your batteries. The old town is full of charming cobbled streets lined with historic buildings with colourful facades. Every corner reveals a new perspective, a new facet of the city that never ceases to amaze.

The dynamic multicultural aspect

What makes Basel even more fascinating is its dynamic multicultural aspect. Walking through the streets, you can hear a symphony of languages and dialects, reflecting the diversity of the city’s inhabitants. Festivals and cultural events throughout the year celebrate this diversity, creating a rich and colourful social fabric.

The Beauty of the Working Environment at the Centre for African Studies Basel

As a student at the Centre for African Studies, I have had the privilege of immersing myself in a stimulating academic environment in the heart of Basel. The modern facilities and resources available have enriched my learning experience. But more than that, it was the inclusive and collaborative atmosphere that really marked my stay. The lively classroom discussions, inspiring lectures and informal encounters with researchers and students from all over the world broadened my horizons and fuelled my passion for African Studies.

Thanks to the Fondation Oumou Dilly

Finally, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Fondation Oumou Dilly for its generous grant, which enabled me to have this unforgettable experience in Basel. This financial opportunity has been a precious support, allowing me to concentrate fully on my studies and explorations in this extraordinary city. I am grateful for the trust and support placed in me by the Fondation, and I pledge to use this experience to make a positive contribution to society and to promote the values of openness, diversity and academic excellence that the Fondation embodies.

To sum up, my stay in Basel, Switzerland was an unforgettable experience. I leave Basel with my heart full of precious memories and gratitude to all those who made this experience possible.

Thought piece #2 – Peter Ayoola Oderinde: The challenge of nomenclature in African traditional religion as an academic discipline in African Studies

Thought piece #2 – Peter Ayoola Oderinde: The challenge of nomenclature in African traditional religion as an academic discipline in African Studies

Peter Ayoola Oderinde
Peter Ayoola Oderinde

April 2024

One of the biggest concerns in Religious Studies is the appropriate nomenclature for all religions that emanated from Africa. Previous consensus among scholars shows that the developmental stage of Religious Studies as an academic discipline in Africa favoured the use of the term, African Traditional Religion (ATR) (Shishima and Dzurbga, 2022: 4-7). ATR as a concept is a practice of African beliefs and practices that include primordial religious traditions. ATR as the model signifies, reveals that these religious practices are embedded in a single ‘whole’ as part of an assemblage that refers to a singular religion. In another light, one may allude that it is a way of aggregating that all these religions (comparable to both Christianity and Islam) found in Africa are from the same ‘whole’. Nevertheless, this argument is backed up by the development of colonial educational tradition designed for Africa.

One may also be tempted to assume that this position is right due to the nature, characteristics, and belief systems of Indigenous Religions in Africa. This is because the basic elements found in the majority of these religions are the same? One commonality is the belief in the supremacy of God and lesser deities. Oral transition as a tradition is another commonality that is handed down from generations to generations. Although, oral transition of knowledge as a tradition has its shortcomings; however, research has proven that it is a veritable source of history in Africa. An important factor is the question of creation and non-material sources that Africans use as means of religious practices, which include the belief in spirits, myths, re-incarnation, music style, esoteric dances, and taboos. To unravel the mystery behind the primitive peoples’ religion, the colonial governments sponsored research into the workings of African societies (Olademo, 2021: 15).

The ignorance amongst early colonialists, anthropologists, missionaries, and ethnographers with their perceived cultural superiority over African cultures later birthed the problem of nomenclature in Religious Studies as an academic discipline. Funded by the colonial governments, these scholars described ATR in a series of inappropriate ways.  Some African scholars adopted this blueprint and held the same views about Religions Indigenous to Africa for a long time. Terms such as primitive, native, savage, pagan, and fetish were used to described anything associated with Africa, especially the religions found on the continent (Parrinder, 1960). The rebuttals process started with G. Parrinder in 1954, but later followed up by first generation of African religious scholars, such as J. S. Mbiti, B. Idowu, K. Kaunda, J. B. Danquah, etc., and other ordained clerics to protest the long history of derogatory views of religions indigenous to Africa (Hallen, 2005: 406). These efforts paved the way for the systematic study of African Religions.

The positive efforts of the rebuttals were monumental in the evolution of the subject. The process started right from the decolonization years in Africa. J. B. Danquah ferociously contended that Africans believe in God is just as the Europeans (Olademo, 2021: 17). Although the use of the term African Traditional Religion may be complimentary, it can be argued that the claims of the first generation of African scholars were more of political than religious. Other foremost African scholars specialized in topics that focus on ancestors, ritual sacrifices, and traditional morality/ethics by developing African Traditional Religion(s) courses in the departments of Religious Studies. Over the years, trained graduates continue to undergo research in the field, but this evolution has left us with the challenge of the appropriate nomenclature for the discipline. B. Hallen also argued that it is “important to note the singular and the plural forms, respectively of the nouns that constitute the title” (Hallen, 2005: 406). The question that Hallen poses is apt for this thought piece that do we adopt religions or religion in the nomenclature of indigenous religion(s) found in Africa?

Shrine in Ogun State, Nigeria, photo: Peter Ayoola Oderinde

My take

In a way, the rebuttals marked a refreshing and radical break in the making of what the discipline has become in the second decade of the 21st century. The point is that the collective efforts of earlier researchers led to the advent of African Traditional Religion as an academic discipline over four decades ago (Olademo, 2021: 18). In addition, African Traditional Religion and its courses are new but can be taught as part of courses embedded in Digital Humanities due to the transnational nature of the religions, religious activism in Africa, and the effect of accelerated rate of Internet Religion after the global Covid-19 lockdown (Oderinde, 2022: 1-3). The example of Tani Olorun (who is God?), an online indigenous religious practitioner accused of blasphemy by some Islamic clerics is a case for urgent study on religious freedom in Nigeria.

By the second decade of the 21st century, ATR is offered in research institutes, Colleges of Higher Education, and departments of Religious Studies around the world. The subject has gone beyond its evolutionary stage and now contends with the challenge of setting the tone for an appropriate nomenclature and terminology. The discipline is changing and to not treat all religions found in Africa as a ‘whole’, I support the use of African Indigenous Religions (AIRs) for the diverse religions found in Africa. The position stems from the word ‘traditional’ and as J. K. Olupona and T. Rey have rightly argued, the Yoruba religion is a World Religion by all standards (Olupona & Rey, 2008), and so are many other African religions. Furthermore, traditional religions are not universal, but national in nature (Hallen, 2005: 406). In as much as no other World Religion, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, etc., has the word ‘traditional’ embedded in their nomenclature, African religions should also avoid the use of the term.


Hallen, B. 2005. African Ethics, in Blackwell Companion to Religious Ethics. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.
Oderinde, P. A. 2023. Disembodied Congregations: Covid-19 and the Rising Phenomenon of Internet Churches among Pentecostal Churches in Lagos, Nigeria.  Brill: Journal of Religion and Development published online ahead of print 2023). ISSN: 2750-7955.
Olademo, O. 2008. Theology of African Traditional Religion. Abuja: NOUN Press.
Olupona, J. K., & Rey, T. (Eds.). 2008. Òrìşà Devotion as World Religion: The Globalization of Yorùbá Religious Culture. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press.
Parrinder, E.G. 1960. African Religion. London: Prentice Hall Inc.
Shishima, D. S., & Dzurgba, A. D. 2013. African Traditional Religion and Culture. Abuja: NOUN Press.



Thought piece #1 – Lerato Posholi: Decolonization and African scholarship: Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò’s cautionary tale

Thought piece #1 – Lerato Posholi: Decolonization and African scholarship: Olúfémi Táíwò’s cautionary tale

Lerato Posholi
Lerato Posholi

November 2023

The term decolonization and calls for decolonizing practices have been popular in African scholarship and elsewhere. Philosopher Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò’s book „Against Decolonization: Taking African Agency Seriously“ presents a scathing critique of the continued use of decolonization especially in scholarship on Africa. The core argument of the book is that using decolonization as an analytical lens in scholarship on Africa is harmful and undermines African agency.

What is decolonization? Decolonization commonly denotes the process of political independence and self-governance. But in its resurgent form, it broadly refers to ‘getting rid of’, changing, reconstructing, and/or becoming critically aware of colonialism and its lingering effects. Prescriptively, decolonization often encourages a critical and suspicious attitude towards everything and anything associated with colonialism. It is the latter sense of decolonization that is the target of Táíwò’s critique.

So what is wrong with decolonization applied beyond the political sense of the term? A few things, according to Táíwò.

First, applying decolonization indiscriminately to everything creates suspicion of its analytical power. I think when we assume that everything and anything needs to be decolonized, the call for decolonization, rightfully or not, loses ‘buy-in’ and becomes less meaningful. Still, the application of the term to, for example, higher education in many of the previously colonized countries can help us understand the origins of these institutions and part of their current constitution.

Second, Táíwò is convinced that decolonization as an analytical tool for understanding things is redundant and that we can achieve better understanding of especially Africa using other frameworks or tools that decolonization. This point can, and is often, made of many terms that gain popularity as frameworks. For example the term globalization has been said by many to be redundant and not new because it picks out and provides a way of talking about phenomena that has been discussed since before the term. As a label, decolonization might do analytical work that is and can be done with other frameworks. Some of the claims of decolonial epistemology, for example, are captured in feminist and standpoint epistemology.

Third, more than being redundant and unnecessary as a label, Táíwò argues that decolonization as a framework for studying Africa leads to unclarity, problematic falsehoods, and erroneous accounts of the causes of different phenomena in Africa. Two substantive errors occur when we apply decolonization to scholarship, the book contends. One, colonialism becomes the only and most important factor influential in Africa’s events and place in the world. Colonialism is not considered amongst other historical episodes and factors, but as the only historical fact that matters. This over-states the effect of colonialism on Africa and obscures any and all that existed and exists outside of colonialism in Africa. Second, and relatedly, once colonialism is the only and most important episode in Africa, it becomes the main cause of all phenomena and events in Africa happening today. Colonialism is made to be the main cause and explananda for African affairs. The great error here, according to Táíwò, is that correlation is often mistaken with causation: not all that happened during colonialism was caused by colonialism or bears tainted colonial marks. It is true that proponents of decolonization are centrally concerned with the effects of colonialism. But it is an open question whether all of them see colonialism as the only explanation for African affairs. It seems that one could take colonialism and its lingering effects seriously without thinking that it is the only thing that matters for African affairs. Táíwò is right to be concerned that taking colonialism as the sole cause for the state of Africa is to undermine African agency; it takes away any sense of responsibility and self-determination of Africa’s subjects for their own affairs.

There’s another point that Táíwò emphasizes in the book regarding agency and self-determination in decisions about appropriating ideas, concepts and cultures associated with colonialism. The concern in the book is that the skeptical and dismissive attitude that decolonization (allegedly) encourages towards anything that has any association with colonialism hinders and obscures the creative appropriation of some colonially inherited ideas. Previously colonized peoples have always done different things, good and bad, with some of these inheritances. Barring Africans from appropriating foreign ideas and cultures for whatever reasons they see fit constrains their agency and unnecessarily deprives them of all the world has to offer.

The book is addressed to those who embrace decolonization, those who are skeptical of it, and most of all to students and young scholars ‘who may be uncomfortable with the indiscriminate application of decolonization to everything’. The book does not provide a decisive defeat of the various articulations of decolonization. But the argument Táíwò makes is an important cautionary tale especially for those of us who embrace decolonization. The main cautionary tale is that we should be careful what we mean by decolonization, how we use it as an analytical tool and what its prescriptions are. For all of us engaging with decolonization, the currency of the label ‘decolonization’ and its kindling of our progressive attitudes should not make us uncritical of it.

08/2023 – CAP Prize winners at the International Photo Festival Olten

CAP Prize winners at the International Photo Festival Olten

August 2023

From 18 to 27 Aufust 2023, the photo series of the CAP Prize winners 2022 Amina Kadous (White Gold, 2021), Remofiloe Mayisela (Lip Service, 2022), Lee-Ann Olwage (Kahenya’s Dream, 2022), Mahefa Dimbiniaina (Sarotava, 2022) and Pamela Tulizo (Double identité, 2019) were on display on the facade of the Stadthuas as part of the International Photography Festival Olten (IPFO).

Du 18 au 27 août 2023, les séries de photos des lauréats du prix CAP 2022 Amina Kadous (White Gold, 2021), Remofiloe Mayisela (Lip Service, 2022), Lee-Ann Olwage (Kahenya’s Dream, 2022), Mahefa Dimbiniaina (Sarotava, 2022) et Pamela Tulizo (Double identité, 2019) ont été exposées sur la façade de la Stadthuas dans le cadre du Festival international de la photographie d’Olten (IPFO).


Reisch Vanel Attipo

Reisch Vanel Attipo

Reisch Vanel Attipo

Reisch Vanel Attipo is from Congo-Brazzaville and holds a degree in urban management from the Ecole Africaine des Métiers de l’Architecture et de l’Urbanisme (EAMAU) in Lomé, Togo. He has extensive experience in systemic analysis of the sustainability of development policies, strategies, plans, programmes and projects at the Université de Québec à Chicoutimi. more

Joël Djaha

Joël Djaha

Joël Djaha

Joël Djaha is a PhD student in sociology at the Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire). He is conducting research on fake news and polemics about the Covid-19 pandemic in the public virtual space of Facebook in Côte d’Ivoire. His PhD thesis examines the reception of the three-step government action in Facebook virtual spaces in different socio-political contexts. more

Adwoa Owusuaa Bobie – a career update

Adwoa Owusuaa Bobie – a career update

Adwoa Owusuaa Bobie
Adwoa Owusuaa Bobie

My path crossed with Foundation Oumou Dilly at the maiden edition of the CODESERIA Summer School in 2015. The programme was organized in Dakar, Senegal, in collaboration with the Centre for African Studies of the University of Basel. After the Summer School, there was an opportunity to apply for a full PhD scholarship among participants of which I won.

The Foundation sponsored my four-year PhD programme at the Centre for African Studies (Sociology option) at the University of Basel. The scholarship was comprehensive, covering my fees, stay, medicals, fieldwork travels and quota for book purchase. Living in a country like Switzerland, with its high living standards, the monthly stipend and medical coverage eased the financial burdens most migrant students face in Switzerland. The provision of fieldwork allowance afforded me the room to explore my interest in the African fashion industry, specifically Lagos, Nigeria. Studying the Lagos fashion industry was an ambitious task considering the fact that I had never been to Nigeria before the time.

Besides the financial support, the Foundation facilitated the creation of scholarly community for beneficiaries in Basel which became a social network that supported integration and intellectual development. This scholarly community have existed till date and has increased in membership over the years. Based on the financial and social support I received through the Foundation I was able to complete my degree on time amidst managing family back at home and two pregnancies.

Fortunately, I got an opportunity for a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in Ghana in 2019, few months before I completed my PhD. The postdoctoral fellowship was on the Ghanaian creative industry, titled “Advancing Creative Industries for Development in Ghana (ACIG)”. After completing my tenure as a postdoc in 2022, I was contracted by UNESCO for three months to consult as a researcher on the Preliminary Exploratory Research on the African Industry.

Currently, I am a research fellow at the Centre for Cultural and African Studies at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana. My research areas are the African fashion industry, cultural and creative industry, gender and development studies. The Foundation Oumou Dilly continues to support my academic career by financially supporting my research work and conference presentations.

Antoinette Danebaï Lamana – a Spring in Basel: a sojourn between the Academy and Culture, renewing oneself!

Antoinette Danebaï Lamana – a Spring in Basel: a sojourn between the Academy and Culture, renewing oneself!

Antoinette Danebaï Lamana
Antoinette Danebaï Lamana

I started my stay in Basel for a semester in February 2023: a spring semester on wheels… a time when, literally and figuratively, the harshness of winter gives way to renewal.

First, a working environment reminiscent of chalets, a view over the River Rhine at the Center for African Studies, and many researchers. Warm support from the entire Centre team in general and, in particular, the follow-up by Dr Veit Arlt lending tireless support before and during the sojourn. Then, how not to mention the Basler “Fasnacht” (my first carnival experience in vivo) that set the tone for my eclectic academic stay in Basel (carnival atmosphere, committed message, generosity, parody etc.).

Then the challenging seminars and symposia at the University of Basel immersed me in current scientific debates and methodological and epistemological questions. I enjoyed the framework and resources of libraries (Universitätsbibliothek, University Library Rosental…), great moments with researchers willing to exchange and discuss in a friendly way, but also sessions working on the dissertation thesis in the company of doctoral students of the Graduate School of Social Sciences G3S and with participants of the Research Seminar on Quantitative Data Analysis in African Studies and other sessions and workshops.

In addition, magnificent landscapes, the River Wiese, the mountains, and the caves far from the beaten track offer contemplation and provide a unique setting for meditation while far from home. Amazingly, exploring the city and the surroundings by bicycle is so easy and pleasant. My bike, “Bestie from Basel”, and I had unique moments between hills and stops to contemplate the breathtaking landscape on very busy paths or less frequented routes.

This stay was an exceptional moment for me academically, personally and socio-culturally, a space for reflection, work, and escape but also an ideal setting to find myself… Finally, my time in Basel was both stimulating for my thesis and for addressing its challenges and on a personal level through unique and magnificent encounters: I have thoroughly enjoyed my “Basel spring”.