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:
- migration in general
- external migration
- internal migration
- inform policy and do research
- enforcement of law
- poverty and food security
- Schengen for Africa
- investors and business
- conference and network
- 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.
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”
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!
- 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
Aghamanoukjan A., Buber R., Meyer M. (2009) Qualitative Interviews. In: Buber R., Holzmüller H.H. (eds) Qualitative Marktforschung. Gabler Verlag, Wiesbaden Germany
Fietkau, Hans-Joachim (1984) Bedingungen ökologischen Handelns: Gesellschaftliche Aufgaben der Umweltpsychologie. Beltz Verlag, Weinheim Germany