From the heart of Europe to the heart of darkness


Mr. Ivo Budil



I decided to interview a professor Ivo Budil whose classes about Africa I visited last year.

Mr Budils Father was in 60ths famous Czech journalist and a propagator of astronautics. He was meeting with scientists of international importance. He believed in development of fights to universe. He learnt instil his son desire for exploring making new discoveries.  So Mr Budil started to be interested in science from his childhood although he choose different branch than his father.

Firstly, he studied palaeontology at biological faculty of Charles University. There he wrote dissertation which topic was beginning of article language. Shortly he became a vice-president of international organisation Language Origins Society. As admirer of Clifford Geertz he made research about development anthropologic thesis in history. He describes political and intellectual factors which influenced this thesis.  He wrote many historic publications.

We discussed about his book “The triumph of racisms” where he described process of Imperialism and the fight for Africa. According this book I asked for his opinion about colonization of Africa. He claimed that African integration to modern world was inevitable.  If Africa wouldn’t be colonized by Christian society, it will overrun by Islam. However nobody knows which civilization would have more positive impact on future of Africa.  This period compared with Romanization of Gallia or Hispania. More powerful empires often wanted to expand into politically and economically weaker countries.  All members of archetypal cultures got opportunity to be accepted into more developed civilization.   On the other hand most of the imperial deputies hadn’t much noble intentions with native inhabitancies. For example Belgian intervention in Congo was turn into one of the bloodiest conflict in history of colonialism. Paradoxically, position of Africa made worse process of decolonization. After both worlds wars were western empires economically devastated and not able to keep status quo. African society hadn’t much time for “birth of intellectual elite.  Suddenly these citizens gained independence but nobody taught them how to be free and responsible on their own. Freedom is gift which can transform into curse and if you don’t it in right way. It will cause a chaos, economic stagnation and poverty.

Nerveless he is really believes Continent might will become completely urbanised and industrialised in next 30 years. Africa dispones enough nature and human resources for economical grown. Everything depends on assertively abilities and vision of local specialists. The key point would be gain attention of future investors as China, US or India. In cause positive development global economy, they certainly won’t hesitate to gain bigger influence in this area. However European countries should try to strengthen their position in other case probably we will face a huge humanist and migratory crisis.

I was also curious what woke his enthusiasm about this region. He supposed that this “obsession” begun with repeated readings “Heart of darkness” by Joseph Conrad. That book uncovered unknown civilisations of noble savages which traditions were much older than ours. Likewise author he was thrilled, scared but determined to make expedition into Heart of Darkness.

His first travel had led into South African republic where he supposed to make conferences in local university. When he arrived to capital he was shocked but in positive way, everything looked more modern than he expected.  The first complication appeared when he had booked accommodation. Instant of room in the second floor as he demanded hotel personal prepared for him room in the 11thfloor. Unfortunately in the hotel had a problem with income of electricity so an elevator didn’t work if somebody didn’t want to get stuck in lift he had to go by stairs. Due to his different ethnic origin he also faced both types of discrimination.  During his Internship he felt to be overestimated by university leadership. On the other hand on when he decided to visit some poorer parts of county he was forced to hire bodyguard because native inhabitant seen a pale complexion as guarantee of wealth. These difficulties temporally has confirmed his Centro European prejudices about developing countries. When he was confronted with local pandemic poverty and demographic explosion he had to consider his attitude.  So he changed his opinion when he made friendship with many talented individuals who were devoted their country. However, they didn’t get many opportunities to change something.

He added that smart people are in whole world but they need to be born in right place in time. For example possibilities of woman depend on place of birth. Although, African society is very patriarchal, amount of well-educated girls in city is still increasing. While a rural girl is probably already married and has a job for supporting family because her husband as “warrior mustn’t work.

Mr. Budil mentioned that prepared book will be about culture revolution in the 19th Century

It was an honor to interview Mr. Budil.

Written by Bronislava Frýdková



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