This summer I traveled to the University of Ibadan in Nigeria to participate in the West African Biotechnology Workshops as an invited instructor. Here is an update that I wrote during my stay.
Being a scientist in Nigeria means being very resourceful in finding solutions to barriers… the power goes out 2-4x per day or some days does not come on at all. Scientists here are very practiced at being practical & creative at the same time, a recipe for good science. Only one day did I start to think that the barriers were too big… but then the attitude of the students brought me back around. They work very very hard and are very excited about what they are learning. There are ~20 graduate students, medical doctors, and technicians taking our course. The people that I have met here in Nigeria is what I have enjoyed most. They are full of hope that their country will become one of the top 20 countries in the world. (The goverment has a plan called the 20:20 vision – that hopes to use education, science and technology to raise the profile of Nigeria by 2020). It has been interesting to talk to these young graduate students, to get their own views on the corrupt government and the political problems in the North, and the wars in the Delta (the oil rich region of the country). It is a country with many problems. For example, Nigeria’s children account for 18% of the global under-5 mortality rate. The UN has identified Nigeria as one African country that, if it were to improve and aim to meet the Millienium Development Goals, could make the most impact.