development

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

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!

 

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