Research Projects

Scholarship holders from Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Cameroon, Niger and Germany are researching on aspects of culture and arts in conflict resolution, peace processes and sustainable development in West Africa, e.g. the role of theatre and film in refugee communities, the effects of migration and displacement on tangible and intangible cultural heritage, cultural policy and cultural management. The Graduate School addresses a new research area with this specific focus.

Bansuwe dance is a cultural dance that is widely cherished by the Bura people of Northeast Nigeria, performed at weddings, funerals (of an aged person), naming ceremonies and other government functions such as Independence Day celebration or National Cultural Festivals. With the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency in Northeast Nigeria, it beats ones imagination to see people gather at such occasions. Despite the threat to life and property, the people still dance at weddings and other social events. The study focusses on the state of the Bansuwe dance performance generally amongst the Bura people and how the Bansuwe dance has thrived in this situation.

This research study targets the deepening of the culture of peace in insurgency affected Shuwari III community in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria. It is common knowledge that insurgency has been on in Northeast Nigeria for about a decade now and concerted efforts have been on to contain the menace. The idea of this study is to establish from the people’s perspective, an understanding of their context and how interventions to deepen the culture of peace amongst them could be delivered.

In Northeast Nigeria it is especially visible that folktales and other cultural practices are fast declining and on the verge of extinction due to several factors such as the upsurge of insurgency attacks on local communities. This study seeks to explore the usage of indigenous features in creating animated cartoon characters on Kilba folktales, evaluate the animated prototype in the aspect of content, visual appeal and comprehension of the messages behind the tales, look at the present condition of the Kilba folktale practice in Northeast Nigeria and develop conceptual models and theoretical framework on the fusion of indigenous animated cartoons and folktales.

In the 21st century, research works on culture industries tend to focus on either the condition of reception or consumption and changing character of the structures of the industries.  Kannywood being a major stakeholder in the culture industry in Northern Nigeria has been consistent in the production of home videos. With emerging conflicts, the themes and storyline of home videos produced by Kannywood have largely changed.  Therefore, this study will emphasize the contributions of the culture industry through home videos to engender peacebuilding and conflict resolution in Northern Nigeria.

Literary texts set in the northern region of Nigeria, have barely received any critical exploration on the effects of environment on society because critics often approach their work with a narrow conception to the physical environment. Thus, neglecting the cultural dimension. Since it appears that the concern with the environment is a concern with the sustainability of Nigeria as a nation, and by extension the survival of humankind as a specie, it would be a setback to continue to neglect the literary representations of the cultural environment, especially the way and manner in which cohesion and harmony are represented in literary texts towards ensuring cultural sustainability. This study intends to fill this gap by examining the sustainability of the depictions of culture in Northern Nigerian literature.

The study seeks to gain more insights into the functions of the traditional music performances, while ascertaining the efficacy of sound-archiving in preserving this cultural heritage. Hawul L.G.A in Borno State, Nigeria, is known to have several traditional genres of music performances such that include instrumental and vocal compositions. Since Borno State falls within the conflict zone, there is the tendency that more of such music performances might be at the risk of oblivion and as such, the issue of sustainability of music as an intangible cultural heritage for the retention of originality of cultural elements and rejecting multiculturalism requires scholarly intervention.

In creating a conducive habitation for mankind, nature is often destroyed. During theatre performances, set designers have not explored much with materials outside of the defined conventions of set designing and building. It is under this aegis that this research project thrives to explore the alternative of using waste materials as main resources for set designing and construction instead of wood, through the adaptation of the concept of biomimicry for the designing and its implementation, while reducing the creation of waste in the process.

Employing the democratic (public sphere/discursive) theory, this research seeks to investigate the role of popular musicians in the democratic process of the 4th Republic of Ghana. It is also to study the use of music as an important instrument or medium for socio-political commentary and for the building and sustenance of peace. The work shall finally focus on the works, activities and performances of selected popular Ghanaian musicians from the 1990s till present and how they have contributed to shaping the politics and democratic conversations in Ghana.

The research seeks to find out the elements of persuasion present in the speech of the Okyeame during traditional court proceedings. It tries to reveal the missing content of traditional protocol to be observed due to the current trends in modern communication such as the use of mobile phones for communication and also seeks to find out the position of the Okyeame despite being the mouthpiece of the Chief; the persuasive content in his speeches and the possible interference in communication due to modern trends of communication.

Ghana has experienced and still experiences ethnic and chieftaincy conflicts which have defied resolutions and have become protracted and resulted in the destruction of property, displacing people and leading to loss of human lives. Culture matters in processes adopted to resolve conflicts and this can be best achieved through a contextual culturally informed conflict transformation. This study sets out to explore how culture and arts can be used in transforming violent, destructive conflicts and leading to peace and peaceful co-existence among the combatants.

National laws in many African countries do not regard marital rape as a crime. When criminal law exempts marital rape from sanction, the prejudice idea of making women inferior is legally endorsed and they are left vulnerable to other experiences of discrimination. The study seeks to answer, how the concept of marital rape in Ghana has evolve through time, if victims of marital rape face legal and/or cultural objections and if effective and efficient support systems for victims exist.

The mechanism in policy formulation and policy changes in the Republic of Benin remains the work of a small group of experts and government officials rather than a concrete result of social dialogue, participatory action and the protection of the access to cultural participation. Therefore, this doctoral research project aims to conduct an evidence-based assessment of current cultural policy strategies in West African countries in order to provide an innovative, structural and participatory policy design approach to support sustainable systems of governance for culture in Benin.

Among the Kanuris in Borno, male circumcision is practiced primarily as an initiation ritual (rite of passage) into adulthood for young boys of the same age group. While the ritual has undergone certain changes over the years, it is conducted under non-clinical settings and overseen by traditional practitioners, hence the term traditional/cultural circumcision as distinct from medical/clinical circumcision.

The Shuwa Arabs of Borno State practice Female circumcision as part of their cultural identity which is considered to promote the dignity of the woman and protect her from cultural taboos. However, in the light of international concern on the practice of Female circumcision or female genital mutilation (FGM) as a violation of the right of the girl child and its health implications, the question arises on the sustainability of this practice among the Shuwa Arabs of Northeast Nigeria.

In the Kamwe community of Michika Local Government Area (LGA), caste system does exist as the race is broadly classified into ‘Melie and Ka-ligyi’. The Melie people are the farmers while the Ka-Ligyi are the blacksmiths.  The Ka-Ligyi’s seems to play some important roles in the community. They engage in activities which includes calabash decoration, playing music at wedding ceremonies, festivals, digging graves, washing dead bodies, carving of sculptures for religious purposes and the creation of weapons. But marriage cannot take place between the Melie and the Ka-ligyi i.e.
Despite the roles the Ka-ligyi’s seems to play in the community, they are considered to be at the bottom of the caste and treated as second class citizens of the land. This study seeks to look into the reasons why the Ka-ligyi from the cultural perspective of the Kamwe people are at the bottom of the caste system.

Over the last decade peacebuilding and conflict resolution in Borno State has been largely dependent on the conventional methods or approach with little or no input from the sociocultural dimension as it relates to the initiatives of the indigenous people. Contemporary research and theories of conflict analysis and peacebuilding have focused primarily on political and economic perspectives or approaches to peacebuilding. The study therefore sought to investigate the extent to which socio-cultural approach is used in post-insurgency peacebuilding among the Kanuri people in Borno State, Nigeria.

In Nigeria, traditional household sex roles appear to have stayed the same in the great majority of families. Women in rural areas have limited access to legal systems to challenge and end this discrimination and inequality. Illiteracy and isolation may exclude women from practical enforcement of rights available to them in theory. Traditional attitudes of patriarchal society, which may be shared by male judges who see themselves as protectors of social tradition and stability, may equally hamper women’s progress in this area.

The Igede Agba (New Yam Festival)  is one of those famously celebrated festival among the Igede people which serves to showcase their culture, traditions and customs. This cultural festival which is practiced by the Igede people of Benue state in Nigeria have to a great extent helped to preserve the cultures and traditions of the Igede people since their migration and settlement in the Benue region in the 17th century. This research therefore is stimulated by the necessity to carefully dig into the changes and continuous practice of the Igede Agba cultural practices and to essentially to probe whether the change is gradually rooting out the continuity of this cultural heritage.


Some years back, the Onyimuruwe genre of Ichekene songs and chants witnessed a decline because of challenges faced by some of its practitioners. An assessment of the forms of the songs will highlight possible areas that can help reactivate and sustain the ages-long tradition in the society. This study seeks to analyse the nature of Ichekene-onyimuruwe songs and chants, the reasons of the decline in women’s participation and how the genre can be sustained.

The aim of this study is to assess the role of traditional rulers in reconciliation and peace-building among communities affected by Boko Haram, especially in Borno State. Emirs and chiefs of various designations practice their indigenous cultures amicably in resolving and managing conflicts within and between their domains. However, traditional rulers’ lack of any constitutional power relegates them to only advisory roles at the state and national levels, even though they do have some strength at local levels.

The study tends to assess the role of women in sustenance of moral values as cultural practices that will be used as a strategy for fighting Boko Haram insurgency in Maiduguri Borno State Nigeria. The significance of understanding culture in the context of the violence in Maiduguri Borno State cannot be overemphasized. The study on the roles of women in sustenance of moral cultural practices as a strategy for fighting Boko Haram insurgency will cover the roles of women in sustenance of respect for religious/spiritual institutions, as well as tolerance and respect for others as a strategy of fighting the Boko Haram insurgency.

This study is born out of the near extinction of Okute Festival in Ode-Aye community. It is generally believed that a loss of cultural practices results in loss of identity. The study intends to find out the history of the Okute Festival within the Ode-Aye community, to look at its performative nature and content, to find out its significance and relevance to the Ode-Aye community, and to look at the practice conflicts and communal responses and document the changes that have occurred to the performance of the Festival for posterity.

Applied Theatre: Towards Sustainable Socio-Cultural Reconciliation and Healing between Christian and Muslim Communities in Jos Metropolis

By Aliyu Yakubu Abdulkadir

The study is motivated by the view that theatre can be applied to conflict situations, and the dramatic functions of education, entertainment, information and correction jointly serve to mixed religious audiences in an atmosphere of amicability and affabilty to spur memory about a harmonious past and induce attitudinal change towards transformation. The main question is how applied theatre can serve as a vehicle for bringing about socio-cultural reconciliation and healing between Christian and Muslim communities in Jos.

In the northeastern part of Nigeria, statistics show that girls and women are not given adequate priority in the social scheme of things largely due to cultural and religious norms, because they are viewed as lesser than their male counterparts. This research will shed light on an area through which women can receive help beyond the physical relief materials through forms of reintegration into society, and provide a platform whereby they can heal and thrive as well. In addition, this research will address the psycho-social trauma experienced by these women as it affects their sense of self-confidence, which is predominant in the northern part of Nigeria due to religious beliefs and cultural norms.

This research intends to deploy visual representation as a medium for promoting peace and harmony amongst internally displaced persons in the Northeastern part of Nigeria.

Although visual representations have been used in different contexts to get information across to people, such as the dangers of HIV/AIDS, the dangers of smoking, drinking while driving, etc., research has not been done on the use of visual representations using cultural cues to promote peace and harmony in insurgency affected areas.

The proposed research seeks to identify the cultural heritage of IDPs in northeast Nigeria with a view to investigating the changes that have occurred to them as a result of migration and displacement. It will serve to document and preserve the initial cultural makeup and the resulting changes for cultural sustainability.

Contemporary law in Cameroon, which offers more gender equality, is supposed to take precedence over customary law, but the importance attached to traditions is so strong that customary law almost always triumphs. With the preliminary observation that gender perceptions in Kom lay the foundation for a conflicting interplay that seriously affects the full development of women and girls, this research intends to come out with a model for conflict prevention and resolution that could be used to improve social cohesion and gender balance in the community.

The study, “Cultural Performances, Healing and Reintegration of Victims of Farmers-Herders Conflict in Central Nigeria: A Study of Daudu Community”, is informed by the overall idea to build peaceful communities for inclusive sustainable development as encapsulated in No. 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals, 2015. This is coupled with the near absence of empirical evidence in Nigeria on the potentialities of the Arts as a veritable tool for conflict transformation and peacebuilding.

My research developed out of experiences in northeastern Nigeria where Boko Haram Insurgents displace millions of people and force them to live with host communities. After the significant military successes against the insurgents, the focus of government, Non-Governmental Organizations, community leaders, academicians and the general public is shifting to resettlement and rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons.

The main objective of this study is to assess critically the roles and impact of the Civilian Joint Task Force in supporting the military to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State, Nigeria. The activities of Boko Haram, in its wake threatened to erode the age-long cultural heritage of the Northeast region. It uprooted villages and heaved them in cities and settlements not familiar to them.

This study accounts for the continued relevance of the Queen Mother institution in traditional, as well as modern, governance in Ghana.It interrogates popular perceptions regarding the engagement of citizenry with traditional institutions such as the Queen Mothers’ Court and how such perceptions could help with understanding the legitimacy and authority of the institution.

With the sustainable development goals, one seeks to end poverty in all forms. This goal can be achieved by targeting vulnerable groups in which teenage mothers are not exceptions. The occurrence and related consequences associated with teenage motherhood in developing nations have remained challenging. The two dominant factors that cause teenage motherhood are culture and poverty.

There is a growing recognition of the contributions of the creative economy (CE) to finding creative solutions to global challenges related to environment, education, health, social cohesion and ultimately sustainable development. In low income countries where the CE is amorphous and largely informal, a strong connective tissue of knowledge and practical information between the CE and higher education institutions can be a powerful enabler of sustainable development. The main aim of this study will be to explore critical issues regarding the evolution and nature of organic models of interdependence between HEIs and the CE.

Wellbeing and resilience emanating from conflicts is a topical issue that needs to be addressed in research in Ghana. Ghana, although by and large has been labeled as a peaceful country, suffer mostly from so called “chieftaincy conflicts” and “land conflicts”. Most often, land conflicts are the result of two ethnic groups disagreeing on the rightful owner of a parcel of land.

In this study, I seek to analyse the complex relationships and interactions between culture, economic, social, environmental and political engagements and the forces behind the commercialization and culturalization of the performing arts for its sustainability. For the performing arts and cultural organizations in general to thrive, quality arts management issues need to be addressed.

This study seeks to employ a spatial model and ethnographic approach to assess the relationship between land cover change and the culture of the Ga-Dangmes in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. The Greater Accra Region has the second largest population in Ghana with the most extensive physical alteration and degradation of natural land covers.

The study intends to assess the effect of insurgency on education, peaceful coexistence and customs and values of IDPs with the aim of realizing the extent at which their traditions have been destroyed, the consequences insurgency has on their peaceful coexistence and the degree to which education is affected. All of these are geared towards ensuring peace as well as attaining cultural sustainability.

The study is on the effect of insurgency on National Declared Monument at Rabeh’s Fort and Sukur Cultural Landscape located at the Mandara Mountains which straddle the Nigerian and Cameroonian border in northeastern Nigeria. It is looking at atrocities done by insurgents [Boko Haram] on the National Monuments that brought about declivity of the cultural heritage in the areas where the exact declared monument and site are located. Furthermore, this research gives a general overview of the history of the monument and site. Over time, it has been degraded as a result of the negative activities of insurgents (Boko Haram). The researcher will observe the effect of the insurgents, which will prove the level of damage. This work increases our understanding of such sensitive topics.

The upsurge of insurgency in Borno State has resulted to millions of people being internally displaced. There has been a loss of lives and properties worth millions of Naira; schools and business activities have been seriously jeopardized; and human activities are in danger. Consequently as a result of insurgency, many internally displaced person camps were set up by the government to accommodate thousands of people from different communities, and ethnic and socio-cultural backgrounds.

My research will evaluate what the Internally displaced persons (IDP) have lost in terms of their material cultural and what they were able to salvage of their tangible culture as a result of the insurgency. Boko haram has engaged in an insurgency that has led to the displacement of over 2 million people from their towns and villages with over twenty thousand people killed. As a result, the cultural heritage of the people displaced from their homes and communities has suffered destruction, which has affected their lives and properties, as they have been completely alienated from their culture, which is a vital component of everyday survival and civilization.

The research will undertake a thorough investigation of the impact of insurgency on socio-economic development and democracy, which have brought the southeast Niger to a standstill. Also, the study envisages to autopsy the leadership laxity, political ostracism and marginalization, which exacerbated the radicalization of the Boko Haram movement.

The research wants to question to what extent pidgin English language users were being deprived of education equality as stipulated by the UN conventional goals in the rural areas, where standard English is rarely used. This is part of the way to ascertain the potential of pidgin English language for more educational equalitarian of its prospects by the users. The struggles in so many schools in Nigeria, Ghana and many other west African countries are the issues of dropping out of school. This and more issues are not due to financial reason of some parents alone. Various barriers which propagate this, are mainly based on some disability not physical or monetary barriers, but the issues mostly caused by the first encounter period see (P. E. H. Hair, 1997). They later serve as colonizer of all official English speaking countries in Africa particularly in the western part of the continent. Here decision makers decided to use English language as the only option for educational language for all schools in this region.

Power differentials in international artistic relations
with the example of the urban music scenes in Accra, Nairobi and Berlin

Christoph Matenaers

The aim is to show the potentials that music can bring forth, and to shed light on the social and geopolitical discourses in which an encounter in a global world is always involved. What values are created by music? How does music change or influence society? What is the social role of an Artist? What inspiration do we get out of music scenes for building communities? How can the situation for artists be sustainably improved? What is the concrete power gap in international artistic work relations? I want to examine the international power relations, but also the local power relations. How should the post-colonial music market in the North-South relationship change (sustainably) for the artists?

Research Questions:
What are the characteristics of contemporary theatre in Ghana? Does theatre in the countryside has another function than theatre in the capital city? Which position have women in theatre?
How can the relation between theatre and women in Ghana become part of sustainable development?
How can strategies for cultural policy be developed to secure a sustainable effect for women and theatre in Ghana?