Dr. Simplice Ayangma Bonoho: Examining Canadian Development Assistance in Africa

Dr. Simplice Ayangma Bonoho came to Bishop’s University from Cameroon as a Postdoctoral health researcher examining Canada’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) supporting the health development of francophone countries in Africa. His project was one of 70 Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships announced in 2021 by the Government of Canada. 

Until now, scientific production in this field had been dominated by the English language, and Dr. Ayangma seeks to increase scholarly publications available in French to bridge the gap between English and French sources on ODA given to the historically neglected African continent. He is the first recipient of the prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship to come to Bishop’s. 

The project also seeks to redress a tendency for work in this field to give more space to anglophone territories on the African continent. As such, Dr. Ayangma’s research has focused on francophone African countries, including Cameroon, Senegal and Tunisia. Dr. Ayangma felt Bishop’s was a fitting academic institution for this research as one of its faculty, Dr. David Webster, shares his research interest in ODA. In fact, it was Dr. Webster’s book “A Samaritan State Revisited: Historical Perspectives on Canadian Foreign Aid” co-authored with the late Greg Donaghy, that led Dr. Ayangma to Bishop’s University as the institution of choice for this project. 

Beyond the challenges associated with overcoming COVID-19-related restrictions, which delayed access to various archival materials, and experiencing Canada’s harsh winter for the first time, Dr. Ayangma feels that his time at Bishop’s has been incredibly well-spent. Intense work sessions and repeated stays between Ottawa, Montreal, and Sherbrooke resulted in an abundance of data collected from Library and Archives Canada which proved invaluable to his project. The first results of this work were presented during Bishop University’s 2022 Research Week, and at the conference for the Canadian Historical Association’s centenary. 

Dr. Ayangma reviewed documents that had never been examined from Library and Archives Canada, for which he had to make a special request for their declassification. For the most part, these are first-hand sources (archives), which are the raw material for a historian like Dr. Ayangma. The project builds on his previous research on the history of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The research is currently being finalized and therefore not yet available. However, Dr. Ayangma plans to have an article published in the AMP Review, and he will publish a monograph on the subject.  

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