MINUTES OF THE 4TH MEETING OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE OF WOCAL, HELD ON THURSDAY 19th JUNE 2003 AT RUTGERS


PRESENT

Herman M Batibo (Chairman) Ekkehard Wolff Akinbiyi Akinlabi Matthias Brenzinger Ben Elugbe Maarten Mous Zelealem Leyew Salam Diakite Margarida Maria Tuddor Petter Bernd Heine (for part of the meeting)

WOCAL 4/1/2003: Welcome

Welcomed the members to the 4th WOCAL Standing Committee Meeting

Noted that a number of members had notified the chairman that they could not come to WOCAL 4 for several reasons including lack of sponsorship, personal problems and visa refusal. Only 2 full members and 2 co-opted members were present.

Informed that because of the small number of participants and in keeping with WOCAL tradition some participants were asked to attend the meeting as advisors to the committee members present. These were Ben Elugbe, Maarten Mous, Zelealem Leyew, Salam Diakite and Margarida Petter.

WOCAL 4/2/2003: Venue of WOCAL 5

Observed that following WOCAL tradition, WOCAL 5 would be held in 2006 and would be held in Africa. It was the turn of either Eastern or Northern Africa.

Agreed that since there was no active participation from North Africa, WOCAL 5 be held in Eastern Africa. There were four possible centres, namely Addis Ababa, Dar-es-Salaam, Makerere and Nairobi.

Decided to adopt the following ten-point criteria:

(a) dynamic leadership (b) active team c) institutional support (d) conference facilities (e) reasonable accommodation and meals costs (f) reasonably cheap and easily accessible air travel (g) net-working facilities (internet, fax etc) (h) experience in organizing other international conferences (i) easy access to facilities such as food, drinks and shops (j) special properties which can boost the image or ideals of WOCAL

Agreed to select Addis Ababa as the best possibility, for several reasons including its Pan-African position as AU headquarters (hence boosting WOCAL's image), experience in organizing major international conferences, solid and dynamic leadership, institutional support, proximity to facilities from the conference halls and easy access by Ethiopian airways.

Noted that one of the persons who would be in the Organizing Committee, if WOCAL 5 takes place in Addis Ababa, namely Zelealem Leyew, had attended the last two WOCAL. He was not only abreast with WOCAL activities, but also exceptionally enthusiastic about taking on the responsibility of organizing WOCAL 5. His colleagues in Addis Ababa were equally enthusiastic.

Agreed, further, to select Makerere as a back-up on account of its dynamic leadership, team work, institutional support and access to cheap facilities.

Requested Ekkehard Wolff and Akinbiyi Akinlabi to prepare a check-list (in view of their former experience with hosting WOCAL) to assist Addis Ababa in their preparations. The check list would list down the various actions and precautions to be taken.

WOCAL 4/3/2003: Publication of WOCAL Proceedings

Reported that the WOCAL proceedings for WOCAL 1 and 2 were on sale at the Congress by Koeppe Verlag. The proceedings for WOCAL 3 were in the final stages of completion.

Suggested that members be asked to list down their names with Koeppe Verlag in order to get copies of the Proceedings of WOCAL 3.

Agreed that Akinbiyi Akinlabi should be responsible for the editing and arranging for the publication of WOCAL 4 proceedings.

Reported that Koeppe Verlag was interested to continue publishing the WOCAL volumes.

Agreed that the editor (Akinbiyi Akinlabi) should negotiate with the publisher to make reasonable prices, particularly for the African participants, and to allow complimentary copies to the contributors and/or keynote speakers.

WOCAL 4/4/2003: WOCAL Website

Reported that, at the last Standing Committee meeting held in Togo, it was agreed that Ekkehard Wolff would arrange to have a Website for WOCAL. Unfortunately, the person who would have helped to establish Website left the institution, so the Website could not be created.

Agreed to convert the WOCAL 4 Website into a full WOCAL Website by adding more information regarding WOCAL and separating it from ACAL. Akinbiyi Akinlabi promised to deal with the matter.

WOCAL 4/5/2003: Amendment of WOCAL Charter

Observed that Clause 8 of the WOCAL Charter read: "The Committee shall elect a President from among its members". This clause did not specify the duration of the term of office nor the number of times the President could be re-elected.

Noted the proposal that the clause be amended to read: "The Committee shall elect a President from among its members whose term will be three years and who may be re-elected once for another term".

Agreed that since any amendment required a two-thirds majority of the committee membership, the proposal should be circulated to all the Standing Committee members for their consideration and vote.

WOCAL 4/6/2003: New Members of the Standing Committee

Observed that at each WOCAL Conference some members were retired and new members would be nominated. The reasons to retire members were as follows:

(a) where members had served for the period of 9 years which was the maximum period for membership, unless re-nominated; (b) where a member had missed two consecutive congresses "without prior notification of unavoidable circumstances". (Clause 4 of Charter) (c) Where a member had not responded to correspondences "through-out a term." (Clause 4 of Charter)

Decided, on the basis of the above, to retire the following members:

(i) Ian Maddieson (not corresponded through-out the term) (ii) Mohammed Elmedlaoui (missed two consecutive Congresses) (iii) John Hutchison (missed two consecutive Congresses) (iv) Livingstone Walusimbi (missed two consecutive Congresses) (v) France Cloarec-Heiss (has decided to step down)

Agreed to replace the retired members as follows:

(a) to convert the positions of Matthias Brenzinger and Akinbiyi Akinlabi into full membership; (b) to nominate new members. The members nominated were: (i) Margarida Petter (to represent Latin America) (ii) Salam Diakite (to represent Francophone Africa and the AU-sponsored Language Academy in Bamako). (iii) Maarten Mous (Netherlands/Europe).

Observed that, according to the new list, representation would be: 6 from Africa, 4 from Europe, 1 from North America and 1 from Latin American. The members in the new triennium would be as follows: Akinbiyi Akinlabi, Ayo Bamgbose, Herman Batibo (President), Yimam Baye, Salam Diakite, Kezie Lebikaza, Matthias Brenzinger, Yves Monino, Maarten Mous, Okoth Okombo, Margarida M.T. Petter and Ekkehard Wolff.

Agreed, also, to nominate two co-opted members from the centres which were selected to organize WOCAL 5, namely Addis Ababa (Zelealem Leyew) and Makerere (John Kalema - in absentia). The co-opted members would be responsible for keeping the Standing Committee abreast with all organizational issues.

WOCAL 4/7/2003: Evaluation of WOCAL 4

Noted: that since the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee, Akinbiyi Akinlabi, was not at the meeting it was not proper to make an appraisal of WOCAL 4.

However, it was generally agreed that the Congress had proven to be a great success in terms of organization, attendance and quality of discussions.

Observed, however, that many African participants who had sent their abstracts were unable to attend mainly for lack of sponsorship or refusal of visa to enter USA.

Note: that there were a number of lessons to be learnt from this WOCAL and the previous ones for any future organizational strategies. These lessons included:

(a) the need to ensure that, as much as possible, hotel or other accommodation facilities were close to cheap eating, drinking or shopping centres; (b) the need to monitor the presence of the presenters at the conference so that where there were absences the programme would be adjusted each morning to fill any gaps; (c) as far as possible, to ensure that hotels and other accommodation premises were not too far removed from the conference premises so that the participants would feel free to go to their rooms whenever they wanted.

Concluded that, particularly in African cities where transport facilities were sometimes limited, the ideal premises for WOCAL should be centers where the University was surrounded by urban environments and where lodges, shops and eating places were available. In this case Addis Abba, the next WOCAL venue, was well placed.

WOCAL 4/8/2003: How to sensitize Africanists in other continents or Sub-continents.

Observed that most WOCAL participants seem to come from Europe and Africa. It is only at WOCAL 4 that there were many participants from North America. However, participation from Asia, Australia, North Africa and Latin America has remained poor despite all efforts.

Delighted that, at least, there was one participant from Latin America, namely Margarida M Petter, who also attended the WOCAL 3 in Lome.

Noted that Matthias Brenzinger was going to visit Japan. He would use the opportunity to inform the Japanese scholars about WOCAL.

Hoped that with the establishment of the Website more and more scholars would be aware of WOCAL.

WOCAL 4/9/2003: Election of New President of the Standing Committee

Informed that according to the normal practice of WOCAL, a new President had to be elected at each WOCAL.

Noted that, according to the present form of Clause 8 of the Charter, any member of the Standing Committee can be elected. The clause did not restrict the re-election of a serving President.

Agreed to re-elect Herman Batibo for another term. Hence, he had to recuse himself. He was then proposed by Ekkehard Wolff and seconded by Matthias Brenzinger. The other members who were present approved his name unanimously.

Promised by Herman Batibo to continue serving the organization with all his energy and thanked the members for the trust they had invested in him.

WOCAL 4/10/2003: Any other Business

1. Choice between WOCAL and WoCAL

Reported that one of the pioneering members of WOCAL had shown concern that the original spelling of the Organization, namely WoCAL, had not been followed, instead most people spelt it as WOCAL.

Noted that the latter spelling started being used at the Leipzig Congress and it was then used through-out as it was the more logical form,

Agreed to maintain the spelling of WOCAL as it was easy for most people, both practically and cognitively.

2. Visa Problem

Reported that many African participants could not come due to visa restrictions by the American Embassies, particularly in Germany and Austria.

Regretted that such embassies failed to recognize genuine cases, particularly where supporting documents had been made available.

Noted also that some people had, in the past, abused the scholarly channels by pretending to be scholars. This may have made the embassies be suspicious even where cases were genuine, especially in this era of world up-heavels.

Agreed not to pursue the matter as it was already a "fait accompli"

There being no other business, the meeting ended at 9:15 pm.

SUMMARY OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE GENERAL MEETING, HELD ON SATURDAY 21ST JUNE 2003, AT RUTGERS CAMPUS

1. The General Meeting was convened so as to brief the participants of WOCAL 4 on the structure and objectives of WOCAL, its future plans and to solicit advice. About 40 participants attended the meeting.

2. The meeting started with a short briefing of how WOCAL was created. It was stated that the creation of WOCAL was motivated by the ACAL Conference which was held in Nairobi in 1991. The WOCAL Charter, which was created to guide in the functions of the Standing Committee, needed to be amended and revised to constitute a full Constitution of the organization.

3. Then the meeting was briefed on the decisions of WOCAL made at the Executive meeting held on Thursday 19th June 2003. Among the decisions there were the venue of WOCAL 5 (Addis Ababa), the publication of WOCAL proceedings, the establishment of a Website, the amendment of the WOCAL Charter, the nomination of new members and evaluation of the success of WOCAL 4.

4. The meeting was in agreement with the Committee that WOCAL 4 had been excellently organized, well attended and the quality of papers and discussions were outstanding. The organizers were therefore congratulated. The Chairperson of the Organizing Committee, Akinbiyi Akinlabi, was particularly singled out for his exceptional dedication and energy.

5. It was noted however that there were a number of problems which were beyond the control of the organizing team. These included the isolated nature of the Hilton Hotel and the lack of near-by facilities. Future WOCAL organizers were advised to try to ensure that accommodation and food facilities are in proximity of the conference premises.

6. The meeting was concerned that some colleagues were refused visa to enter USA, particularly those who were in non resident countries such as Germany and Austria. It was agreed that, in future, prior precautions should be taken to inform the concerned authorities to facilitate the provision of visa.

7. The meeting suggested that although the choice of time for WOCAL Conferences was the discretion of the respective Organizing Committee, some consultations should be made to sound the members on which month would be preferable. Usually WOCAL Conferences are held between June and August. Also precautions should be taken to ensure that WOCAL does not coincide with another major international conference in a related discipline.

8. Some members were concerned that the prices of the WOCAL publications remained very high despite subsidies given to assist in the publication. It was decided that WOCAL, particularly the editor of a particular proceeding, should discuss all the aspects of prices and sales with any prospective publishers.

9. The meeting congratulated the new WOCAL Standing Committee and its President,Herman Batibo, who had been re-elected for a new term of three years.

10. The General meeting ended at 7.35 pm. All the participants were wished a safe "Bon Voyage"