July 12, 2018
I arrived in Tokyo through Haneda international airport in September 2015, and stayed at Shibuya ‘the center of commercial business in Tokyo' and one of the busiest cities in Japan. As I had imagined, Tokyo's advanced infrastructure; the skyscrapers, the subway way system and road infrastructure were amazing. The city is very clean regardless of the human traffic especially in the morning and the evening hours. After just two weeks of stay in Tokyo, it was time to move to my next destination in Obihiro, where I was due to stay and study for the next 2 years.
Participation at the ningen bamba competition in 2017
Obihiro is located in the northernmost island of Japan, the Hokkaido prefecture. Contrary to Tokyo, the life in Obihiro is remote, there is no sophisticated underground-subway network or skyscrapers, and the landscape is mapped by farm lands for agriculture and livestock production. The food is plenty and delicious, the life is simple, very academic friendly and safe. The best time to visit is during the summer (May-September), when several festivals are held such as the Tokachi food valley mini marathon, Japanese tea ceremony, the famous fireworks festival (Hanabi), Obon dance and the World ningen bamba human-draft competition. On the other hand, the winter (December-March) is freezing cold, up to -25ºC. Therefore, if you visit during the winter, carry heavy duty jacket lest you might freeze out. Nonetheless, life moves on smoothly whether its summer or winter.
As a student, I committed much of the time to studying and doing research, which focused on the screening for novel drugs against babesiosis, a tick transmitted disease that affects both humans and cattle across the world. As a foreign student, the professors, staff and Japanese students were always kind and supportive which made life very easy. Aside from academia, I had plenty of time to socialize, make networks, including being the president of the Africa Obihiro Research Network (AORNet). The AORNet is an organization that was started by the African students in Obihiro University, in 2016, to foster collaborative research activities between Japan and Africa for the development of Africa.
Members of the AORNet in Obihiro, from different countries in Africa
Hands on training; learning how to operate light duty machinery at Nentrys company during internship
In addition to the Master's degree in animal science and food hygiene, I also gained a lot of expertise in business, networking, and the understanding of the Japanese business ethics and social culture. I had an opportunity to network with over 20 Japanese companies during a business fair in Tokyo, most of which wanted to expand coverage to Africa. Additionally, I had an internship with Nentry's company limited, a major car dealer and exporter.
Based on my experiences, I strongly believe that programs such as the ABE initiative, that offer both skills and a practical experience to the youth from Africa play a fundamental role towards the social economic development of the African continent. For, the bridges and foundations we create now will shape the future not just for us but also for the next generations.
For more information on ABE Initiative: