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Apr 13, 2016

Strathmore Law Student Mercy Teko Presents Research Paper in South Africa

I stumbled upon a call for abstracts one fateful evening on the theme, 'The Africa We Want.' Listed there were several sub-themes, of which I decided to pick on 'An Africa of Good Governance, Democracy, Respect for Human Rights, Justice and Rule of Law.’

 

This was just after the grass had finally grown, and Obama as well as Pope Francis had just visited our country. Hence, I kind of had some incentive. I named the abstract, 'The Folly of the Forebears' which reflected precisely upon President Obama's speech gimmick- We have not inherited this land from our forebears, we have borrowed it from our children. In those few words, lay the foundations disembarking the atrocities carried out by African leaders. During my research it came to light that most of the things that we now term as being unsavory are just as a result of habits that we have formed without even realizing it. My conclusion- Those things need to go! Well, in the paper, it's slightly more complicated.

 

After the abstract then came the paper build-up. This was the hardest part, but I had the able hands of my Law School lecturers to help me. It was a series of re-writes and criticisms. At the end, the paper was ready. I submitted it and the organization hosting the conference, The Human Science Research Council, (HSRC), sent me an e-mail agreeing to cater for all my expenses; which is a rather enticing offer.

 

Preparations then began and after a late evening celebratory dinner with friends and family, I was off. We were staying at the Suburbs of Polokwane in the North. The Conference was held at the University of Limpopo and I have to say that it was the epitome of networking. Basically it was either you present a paper or a poster so the learning experience was a definite plus.  I was the youngest there. Everyone else was either at Masters or PhD level. The one common question from almost everyone there was, 'What is Strathmore University doing differently from all other African universities?' They wondered how a second year student could have so much exposure and as I explained that many have done such in the University, they were simply shocked. Imagine a Professor envying an under-graduate student's opportunities? My answer remained the same; that Strathmore produces all-rounded individuals through its opportunities and support. 

 

I presented my paper; which was received well. Not so easy on my part because it was accompanied by very many thought-provoking questions. I also made very many new African and International friends. Subsequently, I got to enjoy the scenery of Polokwane.  All in all it was an unforgettable experience!

 

Article by Mercy Teko

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