BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka
JOHN Yabe is one of the few veterinary pathologists in Zambia, an achievement he attributes to the benevolence of the Japanese government.
A beneficiary of the Japanese MEXT scholarship, also known as Monbukagakusho (Monbusho), Dr Yabe is happy to pass on the benefits of his skills.
“There are very few veterinary pathologists (at PhD level) in Zambia, as such I am available to help train other pathologists in the country. The nation has also benefitted as I have continued with research in my field of study (toxicological pathology) and I am currently involved in research on childhood lead poisoning in Kabwe,” he says.
As research manager for the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-sponsored project (KAMPAI) and also co-investigator for the World Bank-funded Zambia Mining Environmental remediation and Improvement Project (ZMERIP), Dr Yabe utilises research skills he acquired in Japan to help the country mitigate the negative effects of lead pollution.
He says the MEXT awards are very significant as a lot of students from developing countries including Zambia have benefited at various levels, including PhD programmes.
“The scholarships are competitive and significant to Zambia as beneficiaries have been able to contribute significantly to the development of the nation in academia and industry,” said Dr Yabe, a lecturer and researcher at the University of Zambia’s School of Veterinary Medicine.
He says the scholarships are also helping cement the relationship between the two countries through student and staff exchange programs.
Dr Yabe, who pursued his PhD in Veterinary Pathology (Toxicological Pathology) for four years (2008 – 2012) at Japan’s Hokkaido University, says the programme has benefitted him as a lecturer/researcher at UNZA to improve his teaching and research skills.
“Due to the long-term relationship between Hokkaido University (Japan) and the University of Zambia, Hokkaido University has opened an office in Lusaka (UNZA). It’s the first and only office the university has opened in Africa to help students from various African countries access information about available scholarships in Japan,” he says.
Hokkaido University has also established an ambassador/partner programme for its former scholars to help advance the activities of the university.
Apart from academic work, Dr Yabe appreciates Japan’s unrivalled technological advancement.
“The technological advancement in Japan is second to none. They have utilised technology as an answer to whatever challenges they face as a nation. Technologies including medical diagnostic techniques and other electronics are some of the things I appreciated the most, “Dr Yabe says.
He also spoke highly about Japanese culture.
“My first experience in Japan was the cultural shock. It’s amazing how Japanese people can effectively utilise their time and achieve results that would take ages in other countries. Their work culture requires maximum dedication to duty and everyone is able to work without supervision as it part of their culture to commit fully to their duties,” he says.
The Japanese, Dr Yabe says, are very traditional and humble people that show respect to elders and foreigners.
“They are always ready to help. The only barrier that existed was language and as such, they shunned interacting with foreigners sometimes if they could not speak English,” he says.
Dr Yabe, 43, says his work culture has drastically improved, characterised by reporting early for work and knocking off late.
Prior to going to Japan, Dr Yabe studied for both his Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Science in Veterinary Pathology at the University of Zambia (UNZA).
A father of two, he attended Kafue’s Nang’ongwe Primary School, Musakanya Primary School, Mpika, Mpika Boys Secondary School and Mungwi Technical Secondary School.
Yabe: One of few veterinary pathologists
BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka