In my 2nd year at Carleton University, I made the decision to switch to the combined honors programme of African Studies and Political Science and three years after obtaining my bachelor’s degree, I can confidently say that I have no regrets. As an African, my knowledge and perceptions of Africa were to a great extent, shaped by the history lessons and practical experience I had gained growing up in Nigeria. I was convinced that I knew all that there was to know about Africa, politically, socially and economically. It was a one-dimensional view, a view I would come to realize that I would need to change if I was to gain a well- grounded understanding of the complexity of issues inherent within the global political economy, and how global policies and economic decisions translate into broader developmental outcomes within Africa.
Since my graduation, I have gone on to complete an Msc in Globalization and Development at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. During the course of my masters, I learnt that much of the issues tied to development especially within the African context are framed within highly complex political interactions and deeply entrenched global capitalist networks. Fortunately for me, these are concepts that I had gained a fair bit of understanding about during my time at Carleton and in the African Studies and Political Science programme. The combined honors programme at Carleton did not only provide me with the theoretical underpinnings required to undertake a master’s programme, it also provided me with the necessary analytical skills that any committed master’s student is expected to have.
Prior to the commencement of my master’s programme, I worked for a solid mineral mining and energy company based in Nigeria. During this time, I worked closely with a diverse pool of mining engineers, finance experts and technological consultants. In retrospect, gaining a broader understanding of the intricacies of the mining sector was not as challenging as I imagined, this was in part due to the knowledge and experience I had gained during my time as an intern for a Canadian based civil society group. An opportunity that was largely facilitated by the African Studies faculty, the internship programme provided a platform for students like me to conduct independent research and gain practical knowledge on issues that were pertinent to fundamental topics that were addressed in class. During my internship, I was privileged to work closely with policy experts in evaluating a number of regional certification mechanisms for extractive industries in Africa.
Currently, my area of focus has been in assessing the effects of climate change on developing countries and in mechanisms targeted at reducing emissions from land use and land use change. To establish the fundamental building blocks for a career in this field, I am currently undergoing an internship with the United Nations Office for REDD+ Coordination in Indonesia (UNORCID). My experience so far has been exhilarating and the opportunities for learning within this context are endless. The challenges however are multifaceted, like most mechanisms aimed at curbing the detrimental effects of climate change while safeguarding livelihoods, REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Land Degradation) is complex and involves an array of diverse actors, policies and technical complexities. There is no doubt that these challenges exist however, the drive for change remains visible and formidable networks of climate change actors are continually emerging.
To a great extent, my current achievements and future ambitions were shaped by a decision I took in took in 2009, the decision to obtain a bachelor’s degree in African Studies and Political Science. A pronounced part of my consciousness as an African and as a global citizen is attributable to this citadel of knowledge that is ‘Carleton University’.