Bob Green: our man in Cameroon

Bob Green in Cameroon

We caught up withDr Robert Green OBE, Reader in Forensic Science at Kent, rather late one evening on his recent trip to Cameroon.

你为什么进来roon?

The Vichy Higher Institute in Douala, Cameroon, has requested our help to enable them to set up the very first training programme (outside of police training) in the country.

I’m here, initially for one week to meet and advise their senior leadership team on the setting up of a forensic degree programme. They have ambitious plans to construct teaching facilities and have the first cohort of students ready to enrol in September.

How was the atmosphere when you got there?

So, after a long journey via Ethiopia, I arrived on Sunday to be met by a tidal wave of enthusiasm and welcome. Actually, in all my travels around the globe, I’ve never been met off the plane with traditional performers, the chancellor and vice-chancellor of the Institute and almost all the faculty turning out to greet me. The level of interest and enthusiasm has grown throughout the week and it’s a real credit to the Institute and to all its members of staff.

How will this programme work?

We have discussed how the programme could mirror that of the University of Kent. Throughout the week there has been repeated emphasis on diversity, inclusivity and developing cultural and operational capacity in the spirit of collaboration, mutual respect, and open-mindedness; all the values we hold dear at the University of Kent, so it’s nice to be able to put some of this into practice.

In his opening address, the Chancellor spoke of this ground-breaking venture and the benefits of providing graduates who will drive reform in the criminal justice arena.Not only is this the first venture of its type in Cameroon but wider across sub-Saharan Africa. Quite apart from helping with the planning of the programme, we have been able to initiate contact with a number of NGOs around the world, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as well as reaching out to the African Forensic Science Academy and our Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences back in the UK. Enabling the planning to proceed along the lines of professional accreditation will help immensely in putting together what I know will be a quality programme of study.

How is the trip going?

这是最令人难以置信的星期和enthusiasm of all I have met has been infectious. They are keen to reiterate the chancellor’s message of making a difference, establishing partnerships and collaborations and learning opportunities. But above all, creating something to be proud of and a first in Cameroon.

Yesterday, I and the group had the honour to be welcomed by the Fon (village chieftain in Douala) who reiterated the importance of this venture and what it means for the people of Cameroon. But quite apart from his obvious enthusiasm, I was presented with a traditional knitted cap. Particularly interesting is that this cap had a small red feather attached, by the Fon. I’m told that this is a particular mark of respect and honour and couldn’t help but think it is a ‘feather in the cap’ for the University of Kent, the Division of Natural Sciences and for our programme of forensic science studies.

The rest of the week looks pretty full on with tomorrow’s (12/07) visit to Limbe, which is a coastal town in western Cameroon. We will be commencing our journey at 5:30 am tomorrow morning and spending two days in the city, discussing the programme delivery, stakeholder engagement and the marketing of that programme.

到目前为止,你有什么想法?

Like many other countries, Cameroon is on a journey to fulfil the benefits of forensic science and the power of modern methods to detect crime, identify suspects with robust evidence and above all support victims of crime. It’s particularly gratifying and humbling that the Institute has chosen to follow our programme structure and design to the letter.

Today we viewed the construction site where the new building is going to be situated and will keep an interested eye on how this develops and what support we could provide, throughout the construction. They are very clearly committed to providing something truly unique and valuable. Below you can see the architect’s impression of the new build which is currently under construction.

Their plans are ambitious, the commitment is obvious and their enthusiasm infectious. It’s been a fabulous week, and I hope this week will help lay the foundation stones of great things to come.