Education as passion – meet Ngozi Edeagu
When Ngozi Edeagu arrived in Bayreuth in October 2019 she had already seen many other places in the world. She undertook schooling in Nigeria, but also in the UK and in Asia, attending international schools and diving into different cultures. With degrees from the University of Nigeria and the University of Oxford, she now found her way to Bayreuth. We are curious: What are her ideas for the next years?
While she speaks about her experiences as a dedicated university teacher for history in Nigeria, she stresses the importance of pursuing an additional degree for more upwards mobility in the academic sector. When she researched for opportunities in Europe, Canada and the US, she came to the realisation: “I never thought of Germany” – even though her brother was a student at the TU Munich and constantly pointed out: “German schools are excellent”.
After some consideration and further research, she stumbled upon BIGSAS and applied for the a DAAD GSSP scholarship. Her colleagues from Nigeria emphasized that in comparison to the UK, for instance, “Germany is about the long-term relationship”, an idea she really liked.
“Germany is about the long-term relationship.”
Additionally, she got in touch with BIGSAS Alumnus Uchenna Oyali to inquire first-hand about the doctorate in Germany and particularly at BIGSAS. He provided her with important information, gave her practical advice and they are still in touch. What a great example for the BIGSAS network stretching across the world.
Her interest and long-time experience in education sparked the idea for a PhD project in which she explores the link between newspapers, non-elite groups and the decolonisation process in Nigeria from 1937 to 1957. While at the time, subscribers published their grievances in newspapers like the West African Pilot, these newspapers were mostly published in English, which meant less access for non-elite groups who she describes as non- and semi-literate people. Furthermore, despite the literacy rate which was less than 6% at the time, the non-elites were still able to air their grievances and thus participated in the decolonisation agenda.
It is not only her current PhD project that highlights the significance of education in every-day life but also her extra-curricular activities. Ngozi has been a passionate volunteer since primary school (yes, that early!) starting as a member of the Nigerian Red Cross Society. While she tries to summarise all her past activities as a volunteer, one can see the love she carries for the people around her from participating in her country’s National Youth Service Corps and various school alumni activities – to name a few – volunteering has become a huge part of her life.
So it was already clear that she would take up some volunteering in Bayreuth as well. When Ngozi met Junior Fellow Hanza Diman, who is always “full of ideas”, he introduced her to the Afrika@school project (formerly BIGSAS@school). It only seemed natural for Ngozi, who has experience as a teacher, to help “change the narrative about Africa” by engaging with students in Bayreuth and the surrounding areas. She stresses that this is a responsibility that other Nigerian university students like her have assumed in the past using organisations such as the African Students Association in the US as early as the 1940s. While they were very committed in providing information about Nigeria and language skills to the US-American Peace Corps, Ngozi sees her own service in the community as a continuation of their work.
“We need to educate people, especially with all the false representations in school texts about Africa.”
In February 2020 a group of volunteers gave workshops for the 8th grade at a secondary school in Bayreuth. Ngozi says that it was a great experience for her, even though some students had funny ideas about ‘Africa’, e.g. they wondered if young people owned mobile phones. But of course, educating people–not just students, but senior citizens as well–is a constant process. So she wants to continue, not only to provide her unique perspective to others, but also to learn from different people. By doing that “there is going to be a connection” – one that ties different cultures together.