October 2019

Start of the third CABLES Training for Centres of African Excellene in Accra

The third offering of CERM-ESA’s Capacity Building Programme for Lecturers and Supervisors (CABLES) has kicked-off successfully in Accra this morning. A group of 25 participants representing the
West African-German Centre of Excellence for Governance for Sustainable and Integrative Local Development
West African-German Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Rural Transformation
Congolese-German Centre of Excellence for Microfinance
Ghanaian-German Centre of Excellence for Development Studies and the
– Namibian-German Centre of Excellence for Logistics

are engaging in questions of postgraduate supervision, curriculum development and interpersonal competencies for excellent teaching. The week-long professional development programme is the last in a row of three international and cross-disciplinary CABLES offerings that DAAD  has sponsored for those lecturers, researchers and supervisors, who contribute to the success of the Centres of African Excellence.

Participants and facilitators of the CABLES@WA2019

United States Visa Applications, Global Magnisky Act & Social Media Montioring in Uganda

United States Visa Applications , Global Magnisky Act and Social Media Monitoring in Uganda

 

By Samuel Matsiko

On 27th August 2019,Ismail Ajjawi a  palestinian student admitted to Harvard University was detained at Boston International Airport, denied entry into the United States and his visa was cancelled. According to a statement issued to the Harvard Crimson by Ismail Ajjawi the immigration officers deported him after they disapproved of his friends political comments on social media. 

In the past few days, several ugandan officials including the  permanent secretary to the judiciary Pius Bigirimana, deputy secretary general of the ruling National Resistance Movement party Richard Twondongo, National Resistance Movement deputy treasurer Keneth Omona, Spokesperson of the National Resistance Movement secretariat Rogers Mulindwwa, Army  General Peter Elewulu and assistant inspector of police Asuman Mugenyi were denied US visas on allegations of corruption and human rights violations.  

This comes weeks after the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned the former inspector general of  the Uganda police force General Kale Kayihura under the Global Magnitsky Act.The Department also publicly designated his spouse, Angela Umurisa Gabuka, his daughter, Tesi Uwibambe, and his son, Kale Rudahigwa.

However, we need to look way beyond the allegations of corruption and human rights violations and look at the digital footprint of these individuals and their affiliates. What social media data did some of these individual submit during their visa applications? What is their social media inventory including that of their affiliates and superiors for the last five years?  How is social media monitoring shaping domestic and foreign policy? Why we need to pay attention to social media monitoring by Governments.

The United States  federal government agencies in particular the Department of Homeland Security and the Customs and Border Protection Agency have expanded their social media monitoring programs. At the beginning of June 2019 the United States State Department issued a social media policy for all visa applications. The policy requires all visa applicants to submit social media accounts they have used in the last five years including emails and accounts with end to end encrypted messaging applications like whatsapp and telegram.

Such social media account information would give the United States government access to photos, locations, dates of birth,  IP addresses, religious opinions, political opinions and other personal data commonly shared on social media. This would probably make the United States the social media data capital of the world considering the millions of  annual United States visa application

The United States  Customs and Border Protection Agency uses social media monitoring  software. The most notable software is dunami a product of a silicon valley  company PATHAR linked to a CIA venture capital firm called In-Q-Tel. These digital tools were initially designed to determine networks of association and the potential of radicalisation on the war on terror. However the tools can also be  used to collect data points on individuals for foreign policy interests . 

American soft power is declining in a world where the global agenda is shaped by twitter feeds. Two years ago,President Donald Trump’s  budget director, Mick Mulvaney, proclaimed a hard power budget that would have slashed funding for the State Department and the US Agency for International Development. Uganda is beginning to experience this american foreign policy hard power through the Global Magnisky Act.  The United States to deny several senior  ugandan government officials visas after years of mutual  coperation is totally unprecedented. I may not have evidence to substantiate my arguments but the United States must have collected a treasure trove of data points on these individuals and their affiliates to have an evidence based reason to deny them visas.

Uganda with a social media tax regime is a very unique country when it comes to social media. Interesting social media cases include but not limited to city lawyer Fred Muwema v Facebook, Havard Student Hillary Seguya’s suit against  President Yoweri Museveni for blocking him on twitter and Dr. Stella Nyanzi’s conviction for cyber harassment. 

This year the  Uganda Communications Commission a regulatory body hired a social media monitoring personnel and issued a policy for social media influencers to register with the commission. A time has come for Ugandans and the world  to pay critical attention to their digital footprint. Social media is influencing domestic and foreign policy way beyond our likes and shares.

Samuel Matsiko is a lawyer and research fellow at the Amsterdam  Center for International Law

 

The cane keeps Africa going

cane african

Interviews from the International Alumni Conference in Cape Town November 2017.

What does this have to do with beating?

If you ask an artist, a painter, he will tell you immediately that sometimes you have to change perspective. Go far away from your painting, to see it as a distant structure or go very close to see the patterns of the brush in a spot of color on the canvas.

Looking at the development of Africa, you can change your perception and go deep down your own childhood, to the very beginning in the upbringing of you as a child. The upbringing of children in Africa also shapes the development of the continent, as was my upbringing in the late 60s and early 70s in Germany, which was very similar.

If there would be no cane – and all what it stands for – young Africans would be raised in a climate of personal self development, free will and even more important free speech. Just imagine that even in primary school and at home in the family young Africans would speak out freely and openly what they don’t like and what they think should be different in the world they are living in and be responsible for as adults. These young untamed beings would oppose every elderly, boss, superior or politician immediately when they see some wrong behaviour, be it corruption, unfair treatment of subordinates or just being to selfish to see others suffering.

The cane is also preventing that such a habit would flow into daily life, and therefor avoid the steam of anger to rise in the pot until it explodes with the loss of many lives.

 

So the conclusion is: The cane keeps Africa going, as it is.

 

At the “International Alumni Conference” in Cape Town (November 2017) I made many film interviews with attending alumni and key speakers of the conference. The conference theme was: “Tackling the root causes of displacement in Sub-Sahara Africa”. But of course the statements covered a wider range of individual perspectives.

 

Coming home with five hours of film footage, I realised it will be hard to find the “best” statements in each interview and put it down to a less than seven minutes final film. So I started to look for a thematic map in the answers of my interview partners and approached the footage from a qualitative interview perspective 1.

To my surprise I really found a clear structure to which, in a second step, I could edit the film footage:

 

  1. migration in general
  2. external migration
  3. internal migration
  4. inform policy and do research
  5. government
  6. enforcement of law
  7. education
  8. poverty and food security
  9. Schengen for Africa
  10. investors and business
  11. conference and network
  12. my time at the Centre and my values

 

With this approach I tried to turn the conference of scientists into a source for research about the respective subject. Seeing the alumni of the African Excellence Centres as a resource for data gathering, also closes the circle to a scientific project I worked on at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center in 1984. In the WZB study we looked at implications of psychological mindsets, related to the dying of the German forests, that at that time massively threatened our ecosystem. The question was, while anyone, from the simple citizen to a CEO in the chemical industry, knew that something has to be done, nothing happened2. A situation that seems to be very similar to the African struggles today. What are the motivations, assumptions, interpretations and cognitive subsumptions of the key influencers and also the normal citizens when it comes to solutions for problems in the African context? If it is the cane that keeps African countries from falling apart, then you will have a different approach towards solutions than thinking, that it is the politicians who have a good law but don’t implement it for very personal reasons.

 

For me, from a psychological perspective, one of the key statements in the interviews was the answer from Dr. Juliet Okoth who said, that it took her until her PhD to develop the freedom to feel that it is okay to have a different opinion than someone else and to express it freely and to reason about it with someone who might have another opinion (video minute 33). Having been raised by the cane left these long-lasting traces in her, she tells us. In another interview a master student told me, that even until today – having a stipend and being one of the heavily selected students of the African Excellence Programme – her father doesn’t talk to her, since she violated the tribal based family expectations for a girl. Many African countries are challenged by high teenage pregnancy rates. In Namibia a high rate of female university students get unwanted pregnant, despite family planning at the hospital being free and the hospital itself being in walking distance from the university. Tribal social rules, family expectations, the church and also the rude behaviour of the nurses in the hospital (assuming that every young girl who asks for family planning is a prostitute) creates a climate of pressure and extrusion.

The hippie generation in Europe had to fight the hardened expectations of their conservative narrow-minded parents. The older post Second World War generation in Europe had a longing for a small nicely ordered social context, but the Vietnam War, the longing for sexual freedom and social justice had been stronger and changed our society in Europe forever.

Now it seems to be the turn of the educated African middle class to create for their youngsters (and themselves), at least at home and in school, an atmosphere in which a free and creative personality can develop and flourish. Assuming that, if the inner attitude of people will change the rest will follow automatically.

 

The Video

Unfortunately there are still no iframes possible on this blog so you can only watch it on the zazu.berlin Website. Choose:

“Alumni Conference Cape Town 2017 – 1 hour – Interviews with Alumni”

https://zazu.berlin/referenzen

This rough and not finalised edit of the footage was not ordered, paid or  certificated by the DAAD, it represents my own view and necessity to contribute to the discussion.

The video is approximately one hour in length!
Please lean back and take your time to listen to the statements of some of the most brilliant brains in and around the African Excellence Programme.
It is worth it!

 

 

Credits
  • Judith Christabella Aceg
  • Callistus Akachabwon Agaam
  • Zihembire Gerald Ahabwe
  • Brenda Akia
  • Kennedy Alatinga
  • Sylvester Nsobire Ayambila
  • Chifundo Chilera Patience
  • Christian Eanga
  • George-Grandy Hallow
  • Kenasi Kasinje
  • Elisabeth Munee Kiamba
  • Fleming Lumumba
  • Joyce Marangu
  • Jesse Mugero
  • Penelope Malilwe Mulenga
  • Peter Mwesigwa Katoneene
  • Patrick-Didier Nukuri
  • Juliet Roselyne Amenge Okoth
  • Charlton C. Tsodzo
  • Faustine Wabwire
  • Wilhelm Löwenstein
  • Matlotleng Patrick Matlou
  • Dorothee Weyler

Author: Thomas Hezel – zazu.berlin

 

Berlin, July 2018-2019

 

Reference:

1.

Aghamanoukjan A., Buber R., Meyer M. (2009) Qualitative Interviews. In: Buber R., Holzmüller H.H. (eds) Qualitative Marktforschung. Gabler Verlag, Wiesbaden Germany

 

2.

Fietkau, Hans-Joachim (1984) Bedingungen ökologischen Handelns: Gesellschaftliche Aufgaben der Umweltpsychologie. Beltz Verlag, Weinheim Germany