Portrait of a successful mobile researcher - Paulin MUTWALE KAPEPULA : from UniKin (RDC) to ULiège (Belgium) ... and return !

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On May 4th 2017, Paulin Mutwale Kapepula defended his thesis entitled: “Antioxidant potentials and phytochemical analysis of Kahemba's traditional foods: prospects for valorization in the fight against konzo[1]”. Results of a study conducted over a period of four years between Kahemba, Kinshasa and Liège. Profile.


Could you introduce yourself in a few words?

My field of research is pharmacognosy, the study of drugs of natural origin. After I graduated in pharmacy from the University of Kinshasa(UNIKIN) in 2002, I was hired as a hospital pharmacist at the Monkole Hospital Centre. In 2009, I became a teaching and research assistant at UNIKIN. One year later, I started my DEA (Master of Advanced Studies) in partnership with the Université de Liège.


At UNIKIN, my work combines research on food plants and medicinal plants with teaching and the supervision of practical work.


What is your relationship with Liège?

Liège feels like home to me. I came here five times and stayed 14 months in total. I have particularly appreciated the support given by the academic community. I will always have fond memories of the city and of the people I have met here.


How do you feel about your mobility experience?

From a professional perspective, it was fruitful for me to benefit from ULiège scientific and technical expertise. From a human point of view, I integrated very quickly. I received a warm welcome and the atmosphere was friendly. Living away from home was sometimes very difficult, particularly being separated from my family: my wife and mythree daughters. And of course, the cold was hard to get used to! (Laughs)


What are your projects for the future?

We wish to develop an encyclopaedia of all local food plants. It would include all complete data collected on traditional food. I would also like to communicate to people the results of my research. Finally, I intend to obtain teaching responsibilities alongside my research.


A final word?

« Better is the end of a thing than its beginning » [Ecclesiastes 7:8]. I am leaving Belgium with a sense of accomplishment. Results are there. One stage of my life is ending here in Liège, a new one is beginning in Kinshasa.


[1] Konzo,

a particular form of paralysis caused by cyanide in cassava, is unique

to the African Region, resulting in death in 1 in 5 people affected [http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/foodborne-disease-estimates/en/].