Christian Happi: The Decolonizing Power of African-led Scientific Innovation
Play • 44 min

Based in Nigeria, Dr. Christian Happi is a molecular biologist whose day job is combating infectious diseases. Alongside his life-saving scientific work, he’s on a mission to embolden young African scientists to take the narrative of Africa into their own hands. For far too long, says Happi, the West has failed to credit Africans for innovation and scientific breakthroughs—a legacy of the power dynamics of colonialism and anti-Black racism.  

Happi leads the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases. The Center has become a platform where Africans can do high quality science and be recognized as leaders in the field, on a global scale. His team was among the first to map genomes for both Ebola and Covid-19. Shared with scientists around the world, the genomic sequencing accelerated widespread testing and tracing of both diseases. Happi speaks with Nguhi about scientific innovation, the narrative shift of decolonization, and global lessons for the next pandemic. His message: Think how much Africa could contribute to the world, if given the opportunity.

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