The word Masamu means Mathematics in some Southern African languages especially Shona and Bantu. The idea to name the project after Mathematics was taken from Project ISIbalo in South Africa.
The Masamu Program is the brain child of the 2009–2010 SAMSA Executive, Auburn University, represented by Dr. Overtoun Jenda and Dr. Ash Abebe and Sussex University represented by Dr. Anotida Madzvamuse. The idea was mooted at the 2009 SAMSA conference held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania when Professor Jenda was invited to the conference as a keynote speaker. It was then decided that funding could be sourced through the USA National Science Foundation and British Council for research workshops in the different categories of Mathematical Sciences on a rotational basis. This culminated in the signing of a MOU between SAMSA and Auburn University and between SAMSA and University of Sussex.
The key objectives of the Masamu Program are to:
- Strengthen the US and Southern African human infrastructure in mathematical sciences research
- Increase and sustain research collaboration between US and Southern African mathematicians
- Offer workshops and institutes to American and African advanced graduate students and post–doctoral fellows
- Enhance research in areas of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics and promote young academics ability to publish in peer reviewed journals and write academic textbooks which will be beneficial to the US and Southern Africa region.
Funding from the two organizations was secured thanks to Dr. Jenda, Dr. Abebe and Dr. A. J. Meir on the US side and Dr. Madzvamuse on the UK part. The NSF grant saw the successful hosting of the first workshop in Mathematical Biology immediately after the 2011 SAMSA Conference held in Livingstone, Zambia. A group of young researchers and Junior Faculty in the Mathematical Biology discipline held the intensive workshop for two weeks and some research output has already been scored. This was followed by a successful Research Workshop held after the 2012 SAMSA Conference in Lilongwe, Malawi.
The funding from the British Council was primarily used to fund the travel expenses of the Steering Committee Members of the Masamu project in 2011 when they met at Sussex University. Dr Mataramvura was representing SAMSA, Professors Abebe and Jenda represented the Auburn University and Dr Madzvamuse represented University of Sussex. It was agreed that Masamu should go beyond NSF and British Council and as a result, efforts will continue to be made to secure Masamu project funding from other sources.
The Program is managed by the Steering Committee comprising Dr. Overtoun Jenda (Auburn University), Dr. Edward Lungu (University of Botswana), Dr. Ash Abebe (Auburn University), Dr. Sure Mataramvura (University of Cape Town), Dr. Moatlhodi Kgosimore (Botswana College of Agriculture) Dr. Peter Johnson (Auburn University), and Dr. Farai Nyabadza (Stellenbosch University.)
For more information about the Masamu Program, visit the website.