The 5th Biennial Ruforum conference held from the 17th to the 21st of October was the first of its kind on South African soil. The conference took place at Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town and was hosted by the University of Stellenbosch and the Agricultural Research Council. This year’s theme was Linking Agricultural Universities with Civil society, the Private Sector, Governments and other stake holders in support of Agricultural Development in Africa.
The event brings African Unlversities together to share knowledge and expertise in various agricultural fields. It also presents a great opportunity for one to socialize and build a network across Africa. The conference was graced by a number of Heads of States both from Africa and abroad, chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, University Vice Chancellors from Across Africa, industry experts and students.
This year was my first attendance of a Ruforum Conference and I had no idea what to expect. Of course, I had some expectation about the conference particularly about it being relevant to my academic work however, all my expectations were exceeded. I was blown away by the excellence and the quality of work that was delivered at the conference both by university researchers and industry experts. I could not have anticipated the light bulb moments I had from listening, learning and interacting with the different personalities. I particularly enjoyed the session titled “Integrating video-mediated rural learning in University curricula”. That session for me was my aha moment in terms of how I too can make a contribution towards improving agricultural services to those who need them the most. I learnt from that session how the lives of smallholder farmers can be positively impacted through video learning.
Having African Universities sharing their African experiences and knowledge was inspirational and left me challenged to contribute my bit towards the Africa that the rest of the Africans and I envisage. Nelson Mandela once said “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” and indeed educating and influencing Africa and the world through African eyes is one of the things that the Ruforum Conference made me realize is possible to do.
Attending the conference was an eye-opening experience for me because the knowledge imparted on me, particularly knowledge about African Extension Services has changed my perception about the future of Small-holder farmers in Africa. Through this conference, I have realized that the future of Africa is in the hands of those who are passionate about influencing positive change to the continent.
Kwame Nkrumah put it this way “I am not an African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me”. That makes me believe that Africans, young and old are more than capable of building their continent.
(For more on RURORUM, go to https://blog.ruforum.org/category/5th-biennial-conference/. )
Sesetu Nyeleka – University of Fort Hare
Professor V. Muchenje, Avela Mxhunyelwa and Sesethu Nyeleka
Professor Muchenje, Dr Njisane and University of Fort Hare Post Graduate Students