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 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 –


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

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 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:



An academic semester in Flensburg, Germany learning more about Logistics:

In today’s world things are changing dramatically and we are becoming one global village, with more opportunity arising from all corners of the world you are able to study anywhere in the world. This means that we are no longer bound to Namibia, but we experience and gain knowledge around the world.

Every year Namibian students who study Transport and Logistics, get an opportunity to spend a semester abroad (Germany) at the University of Applied Science in Flensburg in partnership with Namibian University of Science and Technology through the scholarship of DAAD. As well as with the assistance of Namibian German Centre for Logistics (NGCL). Flensburg is a town in the northern part of Germany close to the borders of Denmark.  The cooperation of these two universities allow Namibian students to spend one semester in Flensburg studying and doing an internship at a German logistics companies.

Picture left to right Mwandingi Jesaya, Amupolo Maria, Ms Ronakeh Warasthe, Pombili Nghihalwa and Uutako Paavo
Picture left to right Mwandingi Jesaya, Amupolo Maria, Ms Ronakeh Warasthe, Pombili Nghihalwa and Uutako Paavo

Maria Amupolo shares her experience how it feels to spend a semester abroad in Germany, Flensburg

Maria Amupolo is one of the brightest logistics students and earned herself the opportunity to spend a semester abroad together with other four students from NUST Namibia. She says coming to Germany was a unique experience for her because Germany is one of the best country when it comes to logistics and indeed the best place to provide a learning and practical platform for Logistics students.

Maria Amupolo on her travels through Europe, standing at one of Amsterdam’s canals.
Maria Amupolo on her travels through Europe, standing at one of Amsterdam’s canals.

Studying at the University of Applied Science was a great as it helped her to acquire the necessary skills especially on how to use the SAP and ERP software tools that are used worldwide by a majority of the large multinational companies that helps to integrate applications in order to optimize business process.

She says she was very fortunate to do SAP and ERP system training, as it is costly to do this specific course in Namibia. Furthermore, she has worked on several research projects with other international & German students. Giving Maria the opportunity to explore Germany, the German language and familiarise herself with different cultural diversity. She said; “The University is equipped with modern equipment, which made it easier to study, a good library with helpful resources. There were always people willing to assist with her research work as well as professors who are very kind and have all their students’ interests at heart; they were always available to assist in any circumstances. This was amazing and gave a whole extra dimension to the study experience.

Living and studying in Flensburg was not been a big challenge. Their public transport is reliable and you don’t really need a car, as you can take the bus to almost all the corners of Flensburg. Accommodation in Flensburg is affordable for international and local students, mostly well-equipped and student friendly.

Furthermore, Maria added that she is grateful for the DAAD scholarship that covered for all her expenses abroad, she further stated that her dream of going to Europe became a reality through the scholarship and she got the opportunity to travel to other countries close to Germany such as the Netherlands, Austria and Denmark. Meeting people from people all walks of life and this gave her an exposure which changed her perception of how things are done in foreign countries and how culture plays are big role. NGCL also did a great job in facilitating the studying abroad and it is definitely something she would recommend to others.

Spread your wings and learn  here is more out there and broaden your horizons. It will only benefit you more in the future.


Written by: Jesaya Mwandingi and Maria Amupolo

Musings on my visit to Flensburg University of Applied Sciences

Visiting the Centre for Business and Technology in Africa at the Flensburg University of Applied Sciences is akin to making a pilgrimage to “the north”. Arriving

Dr. Kenneth instilling knowledge
Dr. Kenneth instilling knowledge

at my destination in this historic city at the tip of the Flensburger Förde, I couldn’t help but think it as a convenient gate away from Windhoek. As if reading my mind, my host made a point of reminding me how lucky I was to arrive when it wasn’t raining. Apparently, the skies had conspired to give me a rare reception for this time of the year.

The reason for visiting this northern Germany city of 60,000 ± inhabitants was to teach in the Centre for Business and Technology in Africa Autumn School. In my briefing it has been made clear that participating in this exchange program is a ritual for new NGCL staff and therefore part and parcel of my job description. But, having been here and met students, faculty as well as the University management, I would definitely recommend it to anyone else. That said, I didn’t have to wait long after arriving before getting down to business and being introduced to the learners. In less than 24 hours I was amongst a lively group comprising German, Kenyan and Namibian students. Through DAAD and their scholarships the Namibian students had made their way to Flensburg and where gaining valuable international experience and education. Despite it being a cold and wet Saturday morning, the students showed up, and on time! The discussion in this first encounter revolved around etiquette and culture, was led by my host, Janntje Böhlke-Itzen.

Next was an invitation to present a “Management Case Study” in Prof. Thomas Schmidt’s class. This was a scheduled single three-hour session and therefore I had to make a decision whether or not to use all three cases I had prepared – a rural-, urban- or regional-scale African case. After presenting the situated facts of the case to the learners as told by the businesswomen themselves (i.e., using photovisual), the students were then given tasks to carry out. Split into three groups, they were discussed and presented (a) challenges the enterprises face, (b) how those challenges were likely to change? (c) Solutions to address identified problems, and (d) how they would you go about implementing their solutions?

The discussions followed by presentations of their ideas proved a very effective learning experience for the German students since this was new to most of them. The tasks and activities gave the everyone involved the opportunity to develop and share their ideas, applying their diverse knowledge and experiences to solving practical business and technology problems in Africa. This was a strong testament to the relevance of both the Autumn School and the Centre for Business and Technology in Africa.

My third and final dialogue with the learners was at a seminar on culture and etiquette, which turned out to be a very engaging experience for the learners as well as myself and my host. Building on the theoretical foundations of intercultural experiences developed by Janntje at the first seminar referred to earlier, this last session delved into culture as practice. Through open communication and dialogue, we explored topics such as scholarship as acculturation, plagiarism: ethical dilemma on campuses, supervisor-student relationship, driving behaviour, dress code, et cetera, using multiple (German, Kenyan and Namibian) social and cultural contexts. In the final analysis, the take home from this visit to Flensburg University of Applied Sciences is that such exchanges are more than symbolic. Their true significance lies in the deeper learning experiences they engender.