Africa is seeing ‘brain drain’ from the arts — and humanities

Writing on a difficult socio-economic and political matter, the Nigerian human rights activist Femi Falana had reason to be hopeful about his home country. “Although Nigeria is still plagued by a massive corruption problem…

Africa is seeing ‘brain drain’ from the arts — and humanities

Writing on a difficult socio-economic and political matter, the Nigerian human rights activist Femi Falana had reason to be hopeful about his home country. “Although Nigeria is still plagued by a massive corruption problem and the country’s leaders are unable to extricate the country from the age-old crises such as secessionist movements, banditry, ethnic animosity, terrorism, religious extremism, and organized crimes,” he wrote, “Nigeria should overcome these infrastructural problems in the years ahead.”

Some time before Falana was able to get his prediction out, one of the country’s leading scholars of opera theory and director of the Ordinary Voice Division at the African Leadership Initiative in Washington, D.C., Thierry Glavot, had already completed an offer to work at the University of Hessen, Germany, and accepted. In November of last year, the Franco-German national Olivier Roesch, a French-Algerian professor of pre-colonial music at Simon Fraser University in Canada, was appointed dean of the Fine Arts Department at the university.

All of these analysts of the arts and culture have said that the geographical locations of their appointments were not part of their considerations, but rather what the positions required them to do. Falana pointed out that he would return to Nigeria eventually, as he did when his offer to join the U.N.’s Human Rights Council after the London Declaration came up, but was emphatic that “I will not forget my colleagues and friends in the Nigerian state. And now I have great fears that this country will experience brain drain.” But, he added, “I am convinced that with government and civil society working together, Nigeria, will recover from its current problems.” Glavot, for his part, is coming to a country that he could not have anticipated, but he sees the change as a development. “I never thought the offer of a university in Germany would be in the cards but I am looking forward to the challenge,” he told the National Public Radio (NPR).

Roesch, who is already steeped in the Latin American and African cultures he will now be overseeing, said the decision to relocate was not difficult. “Music is not a priority because I think there is a lot more I can do in the States,” he said. “I think I am going to be able to make a big difference as a professor.”

Read the full story at The Guardian and NPR.

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