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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

RVI’s 2018 Annual Courses

The Institute recently wrapped up its fifteenth year of annual field courses, which were held this year in May and June in Kenya. The one-week intensive courses covered an array of historical and contemporary issues in the Horn of AfricaSudan and South Sudan, and the Great Lakes regions. They were attended by 83 participants and taught by 32 teachers.

Co-Director of Studies, Magdi el Gizouli The Sudan and South Sudan course kicked off the season with Nicki Kindersley and Magdi el Gizouli as Co-Directors of Studies for the second year running. They were joined by a teaching team that included Kuyang Logo, Eddie Thomas, Douglas Johnson, Aly Verjee, Fahima Hashim, Lual Deng, Freddie Carver and Ahmed Adam. Two scholarship participants, sponsored by the Institute—Alyaa Musa, an independent filmmaker from Sudan and Gabriel Kiir, a lecturer at the University of Juba—shared their work and experiences in the region. Participants commended the comprehensive, intense and academic nature of the course. Many appreciated the range of both international and regional experts and the exceptional in-depth and intimate knowledge offered by those experts coming from the region.  

The Horn of Africa course followed, with Terrence Lyons returning as Co-Director of Studies, joined by first-time Co-Director, Peter Chonka. RVI’s teaching team included Christopher Clapham, Dereje Feyissa, Rashid Abdi, Lealem Mersha, Lidet Tadese, Judith Gardner, Muhyadin Roble and Idil Osman. Mahad Hussein, a researcher at the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies in Mogadishu, participated on a scholarship and offered critical insight on Somali issues. Covering historical and contemporary Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and northern Kenya, course participants were introduced to a mix of perspectives from older and younger researchers and experts on this diverse region.

The 2018 Horn of Africa Course teaching team

The Great Lakes course concluded the Institute’s three weeks of annual courses, with Judith Verweijen and Yolande Bouka as Co-Directors of Studies. They led a strong and diverse team of experts including Assumpta Mugiraneza, Jason Stearns, Willy Ninondera, Andrea Purdekova, Godefroid Muzalia and Stephanie Wolters.

Yolande Bouka and Assumpta Mugiraneza discuss reconciliation in Rwanda

This year the Great Lakes course covered more content on Uganda than previous years with specialist expertise from Richard Businge and Irene Ovonji-Odida. Esther Nsapu, a The RVI team celebrates their first winphotojournalist from the DRC, and Agnes Ndirubusa, a journalist from Burundi, who received scholarships to attend, shared their personal experiences on gender and media in the region. Participants appreciated the variety of specialists who offered in-depth knowledge and insights on the complex conflicts in the region. Those who were new to the region felt they greatly benefitted from an intense week of lectures, discussions and learning with the diverse group of teachers and participants. It was a particularly exciting year for the Great Lakes course as the RVI team won the annual football match against the hotel team for the first time in the course’s history.

Further information about the annual field courses can be found on the Institute’s website. Throughout the year the Institute also organizes tailored courses and learning events. To find out more contact RVI’s Forum and Education Manager, Pauline Skaper, at

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