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Meet the team: Jovia Salifu

Now that the project has entered its final stages we are looking back on how involvement in the KEO research has shaped the ideas and carriers of our valued team members. Second person we have asked for a blog contribution is Jovia Salifu, who has been with the project since 2012 as a data entry assistant and who is now conducting his own doctoral research at the University of Birmingham. 

 

Working on the Knowing Each Other project has been very beneficial to my personal and career development. Looking back now I realise that working on the project was a major part of my initial socialisation into British/European/white people’s culture. This is because I started working on the project only a few weeks after I first arrived in the UK. In that period, I managed to pick up on a few things, despite the fact that I was not necessarily the most malleable student. Last time I checked, Rebecca and David, with whom I worked closely, had yet to persuade me to drink coffee. This notwithstanding, I have the fondest memories of my time on the project.

During my first spell with the project in 2012/2013, I worked as a data entry assistant which meant that I had to type out the answers provided by respondents to the surveys administered in south-west Nigeria in both English and Yoruba. Even though this was hard work, I was entertained intermittently by the interesting answers provided by the respondents to the survey questions. I was therefore very delighted and a tad proud when I saw the article written by Insa and Rebecca together with others about the usefulness of quantitative survey data in African Studies.

Currently undertaking fieldwork in Ghana for my PhD, I have found the lessons pointed out in this research note a very useful guide for my own data gathering processes.

Currently undertaking fieldwork in Ghana for my PhD, I have found the lessons pointed out in this research note a very useful guide for my own data gathering processes. Regardless of the specific research methods adopted, the one common goal of all good research is to produce bona fide data that is representative of reality. Therefore, even though I might not conduct a large scale survey like was done with KEO, I have every intension of heeding the sagely admonitions of Insa et al., that research data in whatever form, is most useful when researchers are prepared to be critical of their methods, acknowledging sampling problems and potential biases and working around them.

The highlight of my time with the project has to be my involvement in the organisation of the 2016 Cadbury Conference. Even though the conference topics had little in common with my own research interests, the relationships I forged within that time will serve me for a lifetime. I was privileged to serve as tour guide/host to the six Cadbury Fellows hosted by the department in the lead up to the conference itself. Although it was difficult to combine this with my own school work, I found it to be a very rewarding endeavour. As an apprentice researcher, it was a learning experience just to be around more experienced researchers. And now they are part of my academic contacts, a source of information and advice now and in the future. Although they may not be aware of this, I learnt something from each one of them — work ethic, commitment to career, and just how to remain sane in this boringly studious business of ours.

As an apprentice researcher, it was a learning experience just to be around more experienced researchers. And now they are part of my academic contacts, a source of information and advice now and in the future.

Working on the project also afforded me the opportunity to spend more time in the department and absorb the sights and sounds of the academic life. As an aspirant to that life, I believe that I got a pretty good socialisation just by being around. As an apprentice researcher, it was helpful to be around experienced people who had spent years doing what I was learning to do. Also, being in the department a lot of the time meant that my face became a familiar one which in itself has its advantages. As a bit of a recluse, working on the project provided a good reason to be in the building and meet people on the corridor, and in the photocopy room, and generally be around.

Being African myself and fully aware of the importance of religion in people’s lives in this part of the world, the importance of this study cannot be lost on me. I know that research does not do miracles, but if I were allowed to wish anything, it would be that the findings will educate people to see religion as the peaceful system that it is meant to be, rather than the source of conflict that it has sometimes turned out to be.

 

Photo Credit: Jovia Salifu

Doctoral Student Profile: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/historycultures/departments/dasa/research/postgraduateresearch/profiles/salifu-jovia.aspx

Want to hear Jovia talk about his experience as an MA-student of African Studies and Anthropology at the University of Birmingham? Please see: https://youtu.be/S5BmXu-loP4

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