World Federation of Science Journalists

WFSJ trio at African Science Communication Conference


December 26, 2006

WFSJ was a prominent influence at the inaugural African Science Communication Conference, held in early December 2006 in the Indian Ocean beachfront city of Port Elizabeth in South Africa.


Seen here Dr Gervais Mbarga (Cameroon), Christina Scott (South Africa) and Diran Onifade (Nigeria), all members of the WFSJ peer-to-peer mentoring programme, with conference organiser Beverley Damonse of the South African Agency for Science and Technology Awareness (SAASTA) at the opening night ceremonies at the BayWorld aquarium. All three WFSJ delegates sat in the front row for the dolphin show and as you can see from the photographs, all three came away from the experience somewhat damp.
Scott, a mentor for Ansbert Nguramo of Tanzania, Frederick Opoku of Ghana, Kimani Chege of Kenya and Onche Odeh of Nigeria, chaired a breakaway session on journalism on the first day of the conference, which was held at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University campus. In the same session, Diran Onifade, who chairs the English-speaking section of the mentoring programme, spoke on WFSJ efforts to professionalize science journalism in Africa.
Gervais Mbarga, who runs the Francophone section of the mentoring programme, spoke in the hour-long question and answer session which followed and very much enjoyed meeting for the first time with the only other African science journalism professor (that we know of, anyhow), George Classen of Die Burger (The Citizen) daily newspaper and the University of Stellenbosch, both in the Western Cape province of South Africa. In addition, Christina ran an electronic media workshop in which participants used cellphones, video recorders, digital cameras and old-fashioned Marantz tape recorders to interview each other and to put pictures, audio and video files on their websites.
Diran was invited by SAASTA head Beverley Damonse to participate in the closing remarks of the conference, which was considered an honour.