Posts byThomas Hezel

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

CEMEREM – image video online available for the “Centre of Excellence for Mining, Environmental Engineering and Resource Management”

filming in Kenya for the CEMEREM DAAD centre by zazudesign 2017 filming in Kenya for the CEMEREM DAAD centre by zazudesign 2017

“Vor der Schippe ist es duster!”, is a German miners saying, meaning “It’s dark in front of the shovel.”
We have put some light there and now the image video of the centre is ready to be presented.

 

After some changes in the hosting of the DAADs website, finally the new image video of the Centre of Excellence for Mining, Environmental Engineering and Resource Management is also ready to be implemented in your website.

As with the videos before, follow these steps:

  1. go to http://www.zazudesign.de/die-schwarzwald-werbeagentur/embed-video/ and copy the code, after you have chosen the centre in the drop down menu
  2. paste the code in the HTML-code of you website
  3. Done!

The videos maximum width is 640 pixel. Up to this size it will adjust automatically to different screen sizes (smart phone, laptop). You can choose between the original version in English, with English subtitles and with German subtitles.

 

If you need the video for a live presentation, please contact Sylvia Vogt or Dr. Dorothee Weyler in Bonn .They have different versions available for bigger screens and beamer.

 

For any questions, just send me a mail:

thomas.hezel@zazudesign.de

 

Author:

DAAD Network Meeting 2017 in Kenya – Video online

DAAD Network Meeting Kenya 2017

Is the attention span of an academic longer than the regular internet attention span of some seconds?

I said yes, and here comes a video of 12 minutes length. Claus Pakleppa summing up, what took place at the Network Meeting 2017 in Kenya.

The video is available as a HD version for larger presentations on TV screens and bigger computer monitors from Dr. Dorothee Weyler.

For the implementation in your own website or any other web presentation you can use the embedding code that you will find here:

http://www.zazudesign.de/die-schwarzwald-werbeagentur/embed-video/

Go at “Wählen Sie hier!” to the last entry then copy and paste the code from the zazudesign website in your HTML source code of your web presentation and –  done!

note:
This blog software is omitting code in the form of iframes, so here it doesn’t work.

 

Author:

Back from Kenya with 860 GB of film data

Filming for the CEMEREM in Kenya Filming for the CEMEREM in Kenya

The zazudesign – die Schwarzwald Werbeagentur in Berlin film team is back in Germany with a hard drive full of data. Thank you to everyone who participated and supported us to do our work!

As we know from the quantum mechanics is the influence from an observer on the observed subject growing with the intensity of the observation (more here: https://idw-online.de/de/news391). Filming without disturbing is therefore a very sensitive process and I hope we didn’t disturb too much and everyone will be happy to have left some traces for future scientists who will research how African Excellence made his steps to a strong scientific organisation.

During preparation and the filming I have to deal with a lot of organisational demands on the countries legal level, as well as structures directly around the Centre. Therefor I made some observations that I would like to share:

  • With some Centres I had difficulties to find the physical location of the Centre on the campus and where in town the campus is located (different branches). That means it is also hard for interested students to find the real location. A map or a little graphic of the campus could help here a lot.
  • A direct phone number to call, an email address, opening hours and a contact persons name would also make it more easy to get into touch with the Centre.
  • Many scientists still use free email services like “gmail” or “yahoo”. Since we all know that these services are paid by analysing and selling your data and content of your mails, it would be preferable that there is a xxx@african-excellence.de address for the Centers representatives.

My impressions of Kenya:

Kenya is getting more and more advanced. As a film crew we face some special procedures entering a country. In the first place we have to go through customs with a lot of electronic equipment and in the second place we need working and filming permits. Both has to be handled in Kenya by a Kenyan film company. This means it is decoupled from corruption and a regular process. Applications for a normal visa are handled online and processed in a few-hour, this is an amazing development for an African country. Entering a national park needs also an entrance fee (54 USD per person per day) that can only be paid by credit card – no more cash/corruption in this area too.

The only still existing problem are the police road blocks. Self-driving mzungu (white man) seem not to be so common in Kenya, so we had always been the one getting stopped. On our first roadblock, coming from Mombasa, we had been accompanied by an Kenyan driver from the university who finally solved the police issue with a “gift” of 500 KSE. Before that they had been desperately searching for something that could be wrong with our rental car, to get a reason for a fine. The police women at the road block before Voi asked straight forward what we can give to them. We solved the situation by offering a pack of biscuits. From that day onwards every filling up with petrol in Voi implicated bringing the police women at the road block some biscuits. That was ok with us and gave us even a nice chat every time we passed.

 

Summing it up:

Kenya is developing, but every step you do demands a decent amount of money for permits, entrance fees and expensive car rental prices (almost 6.000 USD in total for our short trip).

 

An impression from an outside observer about the Centres:

The idea of Prof. Jan Bongaerts, to put expertise together, so that the sum of all parts is more than the individual outcome, for me was a good idea for further development:

To invite the law specialists from Dar es Salaam to teach about mining law in the EAC, to cooperate with the Centre for Microfinance in Congo in the field of artisanal (small) mining and involving Namibians Centre logistic knowledge in teaching how a future mining adviser for an African government should incorporate logistics in his expertise.

One more thought:

By all enthusiasm for application-orientated knowledge, we still need people who make innovations and they must be educated and allowed to think beside the tracks.

 

 

And in the end it was a pleasure to see you all again!

 

Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to put the image film of your center on your website?

embed video zazudesign easy embeding of videos

Or, how to put an african-excellence image film on any website?

Updated October 2019

We made this a very easy task:

Just visit the zazudesign video-embed-site and choose your video and subtitle version here: zazu.berlin – die Schwarzwald Werbeagentur – embed videos

Now you just copy the code that appears in the grey field and copy and paste it to your websites code, exactly at the place where you want the video to appear.

Thats it!

 

The video is now streamed from the african-excellence website into a so called “iframe” on your website. It is the same procedure as on YouTube, only that our version is responsive webdesign and adjusts to the size of the monitor, from mobile phones up to normal computer monitors.

The film doesn’t get larger than its original resolution of 640 pixels.

If there are any questions or problems you can contact me here: info@zazu.berlin

 

Author: Thomas Hezel

Discussion: “…!”

blog graphic discuss, network and publish

Is this blog good and sufficient?

To make the videos about the centres and to accompany the network meeting in Ghana 2016 gave me a brief insight into the academic world of African-Excellence.

Since my daily business is to think about digital media in the modern world and how they can be effectively used, I started to think about what this German-African cooperation would need to be a vital academic discussion ground, a source of knowledge, a instrument to reach the world out there, a tool to publish, a knot to stay in contact and a place to be found if someone else needs the expertise of a colleague.

What I learned at the network meeting is, that it is not so easy to publish in the major well-known science magazines, since they are mostly America based and not really interested in African themes. Dr. Kenneth Odero from the Logistics Centre in Namibia countered:

” If we can not publish in their magazines, so let them come to the place where we publish, if they want to hear about our knowledge.”

Since the blog is now out and alive this is my first question:

 •••

1. Can this blog be a place for scientists to publish?

Please comment below and make your suggestions, what could be better and what is missing or why this is perhaps the wrong tool.

•••

Prof. Paul Webb from the East and South African-German Centre talks about his work approach:

“In all of our research … that it is useable and makes an impact …”

2. Can this blog make an impact in the real world?

What would it need? How do you think could this be accomplished?

•••

Life is moving on, so does people. Some of the well-educated alumni of the Centres vanish into their daily business. There is nothing bad about it, but their creative ideas and their rich knowledge base is lost for the academic discussion.

“Do you remember, there was a master thesis about this topic, do you remember the title of the thesis or the name of the student?” “Yes, I remember, he did some good research, but I just can not remember his name.” “Which year?” “Oh, quite a while ago.” …

3. Can this blog help to stay in contact, not to loose the tie to the academic discussion?

•••

If a group of students wants to meet from time to time, they build a  “WhatsApp group”. For mail people use Google Mail, Yahoo or AOL, we search with Google, phone with Skype, send our theses files with Dropbox and try to find the love of our life with Facebook.  And now, while everyone is talking about the digital university, Microsoft is so kind to give us the perfect digital university tool – just for free.

All these services are more or less easy to use, everywhere available and the best of all, they are free. The only price we pay is that we have to send big loads of data to the American companies who offer the services.

In the private world this could perhaps be accepted, but what about science, knowledge, research and publications. Do you really want to give Google the power to decide whose ideas reach the world and who is banned from public. If Microsoft and their new cloud is getting all your lectures manuscripts in the new digital cloud university, who will then decide whose idea is whose and under which name the theses will finally be published? And is it then Google’s turn to help with the decision which scientist will reach a bigger audience?

What do you think? Will science in a digital world be more and more driven by economic interests of American internet companies? Do we need a tool which could give back the scientists the control over their ideas, their research outcome, their theses and the decision about, who is listening when they are engaged in an academic discussion with their colleagues. Or, do you think I’m to suspicious, this is all fine and we should be thankful for getting such wonderful tools which make our lives much easier?

 

4. Do we need to worry about data control in science? In case we have to worry, how should an all in one digital tool be, that covers the whole academic life and keeps the data under the control of the individual that uses it? Could this blog be seen as a small breadboard model for this?

 

 

 

Looking forward to read your comments!

 

 

Author:

A picture shows the truth – a film shows 24 pictures per second

sound mixing zazudesign Sound mixing for the video of the Congolese-German Centre for Microfinance at the zazudesign postproduction suite

This quote of the French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard is, seen from a scientific background, everything else but the truth!

Since Immanuel Kant we know, that apperception is a function of our brain and to recognize the world, as it is “in-itself” is beyond our excellence. With the Austrian epistemologist Paul Feyerabend we could now shout out loud: Anything goes and there is no universal methodological rule! Karl Popper, another Austrian grumbler, would immediately jump in front of the camera, insisting: Yes, anything goes, just start with an arbitrary theory, but then my friend, you must do your homework and falsify with hard scientific proof, what looked in the beginning so nice and easy and felt like the final wisdom. Theodor W. Adorno climbs the stage, followed by his Frankfurt gang of brooders, and puts himself into the spotlight: Your whole perception of this film is blurred by the evil influence of the psycho-social-agencies in their totality, which are – you may not feel it by yourself – much stronger then your individual uniqueness. So if you are looking, maybe not for truth but for a better world – just change the institutions that formed you and with you your film. So what about the film? It will never be finished, if I have to wait for the institutions to change. Voices are raised, arguments hit the ceiling, ending in a positivism-dispute between Karl Popper and Theodor W. Adorno about what to do: fighting the total concept and ideology, that formed the film and the recipient, or as Popper would suggest: going picture by picture, frame by frame and looking for some truth by finding the lies in each image.

Making an image video for a Centre of Excellence always starts with a Paul Feyerabend feeling: Yes, anything goes! The imagination spreads its wings and creates a bright and colourful film idea, filled with humble truth and well-intentioned purpose.
In the preparation process Adorno starts creeping into the room and stands there with a bright smile on his face, as he observes my struggle with permissions, custom regulations, plane luggage limitations and all kind of organisational challenges, availabilities, not to talk about time and money limitations. It is not just the psycho-social-agencies, but as well the organisational agencies, beginning to form what – without having even started – will be possible. During filming I fight each moment with the spell of Immanuel Kant to find something – if not in general but at least for my own personal perception – that looks like it could be a unique moment – captured by the camera – of a little fragment of the “it is in-itself”.
Coming home with two hours of film footage for each Centre, the sorting and structuring process of the images seems interestingly to develop an underlying structure by itself. It is still chaos, but one could see the waves rolling on the ocean. The waves what you see,  Adorno would reply, is the casting mould that was formed by the psycho-social-agencies and is now perceived as structure that individuals in a definite social-time-frame only could agree on. As I look up to my bookshelf Douglas R. Hofstadter is whispering: Yes, inside a system the system mostly makes sense, but don’t forget, there is a world outside your system. So editing, not only for a European but also for an African audience – that was probably formed by a different casting mould – needs a good amount of questioning my own assessment and perception.

The next step after the sorting process is to find the best statements of each interview partner. Here it is important to hear, what the members of the Centre qualify as a good and important statement, hoping that a deeper insight and a higher quantity of reviewers pushes objectivity and therefor the overall quality.

After that stage I have to choose part of statements that fit into the five minutes timeframe of the final video. The statements need a clear starting point and an on the spot end point and in most cases they have to offer the possibility to cut out breathing spaces and slips of tongue. In this stage it is interesting to see that I loose more and more the absolute control of the editing and the system and structure creates its own demands. When the first statement is in the edit the other statements base and relate to it. Is everything said about the structure of the Centre, for the rest of the participants this topic is out of question and I have to look for statements about visions and growth of the Centre. So, if in any case, what felt for you was your best moment in front of the camera, or even your whole interview in itself, is not in the final film, don’t blame me, it’s the system. It’s the fault of Adorno, Marcuse and even Walter Benjamin, who put the structures over the good intentions of the individual.

Yes Mr. Adorno, we learned our rules and act accordingly, putting good beans in one pot and the so called bad ones in the other, while Pavlov’s dog is standing on his box, drooling saliva on the polished floor of our scientific lab. What can we do, it’s not punk and our audience doesn’t expect some Dada poems, so we flow with the rivers flow, longing for an ocean of applause.

By the time the selected interview parts are put together, the gear-wheels of arguments mesh with a pleasant sound, but the car that drives us all the way to glory shines only in its greyish mechanical beauty. To make it worse – in contrast to what a scientist would call, the desire to show the objective truth – we add some music. Now the film drifts even more in the misty world of subjectivity. Sigmund Freud would have his pleasure, it’s time to feature the unconscious mind, the secret world of hidden dreams.

It seems, that we are far away of showing the truth, not in one picture and not at all in 24 pictures per second. But: “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”, the painter René Magritte would reply. This is not the thing itself. A picture of something should not be confused with the object it is showing. And art, if it hits the spot, is capable of beeing more then the sum of the little light spots illuminating a computer monitor.

 

So in the end I hope that, beyond all subjectivity, there is some truth in every picture and the final film – even if it’s only inside the psycho-social-agencies that cover the world of our expected audience.

 

editing
zazudesign postproduction – Video editing with FinalCut Pro X for the Ghanaian-German Centre for Development Studies

 

color matching Kenya
zazudesign postproduction – Color matching with DaVinci Resolve Professional for the East and South African-German Centre for Educational Research

 

Author: Thomas Hezel