Posted by & filed under Open Letters.

Hi Richard.

I read your post about Reviving Critical Modernism in Development Studies.

I’m encouraged by what you’ve written. I agree that it is extremely important to look critically at Issues of power, and to enable less powerful voices to be represented in the development discourse.

Ref “In practice, this means seeking universals and commonalities to link within a wider-scale network those local networks (movements and institutions) seeking to empower those at the margins.”

You are writing to an academic audience, and I’m reading from the viewpoint of practice, so there is the possibility I have misunderstood, but it seems to me that you are talking about networks and knowledge sharing. I think we are concerned about the same thing.

You can probably guess where I’m heading on this. Thanks to smart phones and the internet it is so much easier to make links, to enable information to flow, and to see useful patterns. If you are talking about including voices beyond the usual International Development establishment, I’d love to help some of those unheard, or less-heard, voices to feed into your work if you see that as useful input. Also, if you will be creating information later that is relevant to local practitioners, then I’d also like to support the dissemination of that information.

I’d start with John Dada, and there are others to introduce as well. John is an inspiring example and, in my opinion, his work at Fantsuam Foundation (FF) should be a standard case study for anyone who wants to understand the realities of development from a local perspective. In this video clip he is talking about ICT – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajY1fJxGH3s

It is worth noting that Fantsuam Foundation is about far more than just ICT. It is also about integrated community development, education, training, finance, health, farming, economic development, orphans and vulnerable children, care of the elderly etc – i.e. the interwoven concerns of families and  communities.  There is much more information about its work that I could point you to.

Before you start to be concerned that I may be angling for some of your research budget, I will explain that all of my UK-Africa work to date has been self-funded. It grew from friends helping friends. I did it alongside my day-job not as my day-job. That has given me freedom, and tremendous opportunities to learn. On the down side,  it means that I have no “institutional affiliation” where what I know can be made available to serve the research community.

My concern is to make things happen. I’ve retired from the day-job now. Before I “retire” from the unpaid work as well, I want to offer its fruits where they would be useful. I am passionate about “closing the development disconnect” – see It’s time to end this development disconnect

If there is any opportunity for under-represented voices, such as those I know, to be heard through Manchester University’s development studies please let me know, so that I can help you to make it happen.