Interview with Professor Alonso Zamora
Professor Alonso Zamora lives in Mexico and is currently teaching international affairs and African studies, it was difficult for me to find someone who works within sub Saharan Africa but thankfully a class mate who was in my group this semester in current affairs had professor Alonso in her contact and was nice enough to share this with me and ask him if he would not mind being a part of it. Thankfully the Professor was more than happy to help.
On a Saturday evening, I had the opportunity to interview professor Alonso Zamora, after countless emails and reschedules we finally managed to make it happen. It was decided that we will hold the interview through skype at 8pm Spanish time, to my dismay we were experiencing technical issues, around 9pm the sound was fixed and we could now begin the interview.
“Hello I’m Haleema!” I shouted nervously as if technology wasn’t strong enough for him to hear my greeting. The Professor replied much more quietly “Hi Haleema” and Before I could give any more information about who I am and how grateful I am that he agreed to take some time out of his busy work and life schedule to have this interview with me.
Professor Alonso began to ask me questions. It was almost as if I was catching up with an old friend which definitely helped in easing my nerves to the idea that it would be more of a educational conversation than an awkward formal interview. “How long are you in Spain for?” The professor asked and then it began as I told him about my year in Spain and how long I have left before I am back in my home country…
“So, can you explain to me what your role is?” As I felt it was best to start this with a more generic question, the professor then went on to tell me about his role as a professor in international affairs and African studies, it was interesting to find out that he went to college in Mexico and then went on to do a master’s degree from 2004 to 2006. It was amazing to hear someone who is not from the continent speak so passionately about Sub Saharan Africa.
He continued in telling me about how he has studied Africa for now over 13 years which I found to be amazing. He was mostly familiar with eastern Africa, places such as Kenya and Tanzania which he studied pastoral society and their confrontation with the state and having their own land. The idea that he may even know more about Sub Saharan Africa than those that descend from the continent was a thought that played in my head and got me thinking of the importance of educating those on where they come from.
I was very intrigued to know what made a man who had no relations with Africa so passionate about the state of the continent and to my surprise. Professor Alonso replied to me that he was concerned about the images that are shown of Africa in Mass Media and sees it as important to teach people more than just the negative images we see of Africa “These societies are shown to be barbaric in western society “The Professor said to me as I took notes, intrigued by his opinion and knowledge.
It might seem like a question that may not have been needed to ask but I was interested to know what kind of people of people are prone to attend the classes and, I was surprised to hear that it wasn’t just people of the African society in Mexico but also Mexicans (like my classmate) students studying abroad and some students from the Caribbean and Africa.
Professor Alonso informed me with his bad luck when trying to visit Africa, His first time in 2008 where he tried to make a visit to Kenya in 2008 however due to work commitment in Mexico. He was not able to make the journey. Five years late in 2013 the same journey was planned however
this time the professor messed up his knee, the professor told me that he has plans to book another trip and I hope that this time the professor makes it to his destination.
The Government was a topic that we had to touch on and my question for the professor was “What would you say to nations to Government and political leaders in Africa on what they should be doing more and less of?” And to this he told me that people are tired of their political class. They are tired of seeing the same politicians, The Government need to make way for the younger politicians for there to truly be a change. His words were “Fight promotion and not promote it, I believe in the young people of Africa being able to make the change that is needed.”
Written By Haleema Lagundoye

From the heart of Europe to the heart of darkness

4-Budil_Ivo_foto_Tomes_6

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

 

Interview with Professor Alonso Zamora.docx

How to change the perception of African countries

This week I had the opportunity to visit Madam Mavis Esi Kusorgbor the Minister in charge of economical and politic affairs at the Ghana Embassy in Madrid. We touched on topics such as her background in international relations and economic, political or cultural aspect of her task in representing and promoting her country.

Her daily tasks consist in looking after Ghana’s political interest in Madrid, promoting economic relations between Ghana and Spain and as a deputy to the Ambassador in administrative issues of the Embassy. Madam Kusorgbor envisaged working in a similar position from an early stage of her education. Before starting university, she studied Governments as major which prepared her for her studies in political science and later international affairs.

After her degree, she managed to find a role in the Foreign Ministry in 1995 which marks the beginning of her employment with the Government of Ghana. The different roles she has taken in the past 20 years were all related to handling Ghana’s foreign affairs and relations either from inside the country or in different departments and countries of the world.

Her first posting outside of Ghana was with the Ghana permanent mission at the United Nations in New York. She served on the Third Committee of the General Assembly which is responsible for social and human right issues and treating questions related to the advancement of women, the protection of children and the promotion of fundamental freedoms .”Everybody is basically pursuing their own interest and not thinking about what is really happening globally.” she said and questioned some countries disregarding events on security issues and humanitarian consensus and sticking to their political stands. After being sent out to Egypt from 2008 to 2012 which represented a momentous time for the country , she then served in Dubai for a brief period before taking her current position at the Ghana Embassy in Spain last year.

During those years she learned about different cultures of the world and how they perceive Ghana. That plays an important aspect in understanding how to present the interest to the different audiences. It is important to take the different aspects of the international relations of Ghana with the countries in consideration. The different strategies focus on knowledge of culture, development, social cultural aspects and most importantly the history of the relations with Ghana. Egypt for example as bilateral partner has a strong relationship, what ensures a lot of support to initiatives. People to people relations are also very important as Ghana is not very know for example in Dubai, but has seen increased activity. In Spain or Europe in general it is more difficult as you must first find out what people think about Ghana and what might be attractive in terms of “business, investment or cultural relations”.

The Embassy tries to promote Ghana as politically stable country with many economic prospects. Western countries look for certain factors such as “good governance”, “committed leaders”, “efforts to improve the well-being of the people” and “democracy” in their potential partners. Ghana fulfills all those factors and the duty of its representatives is now to showcase that potential. In her current role, she tries to attract investments to Ghana from chambers of commerce and companies. Arguments like the low cost of labor and the logistic aspects allowing short distances of production speak for those investments. The readiness of investor due to security and financial concerns are obstacles that she has to face. For that to change the Embassy also tries to showcase the culture of Ghana to attract tourism and subsequently the awareness about the country.

“As small individual countries if we do not come together as a bloc we will not have a voice strong enough to be able to engage with other regional groups like the European Union or even a bigger country like the United States, because after all it is just one small Ghana or one small Gambia.” With this statement, she shows the importance of unity between African countries. Ghana can serve as a leader for West Africa in such negotiations. Most countries of Africa have gone through difficulties. It is important to understand the different dynamics and to help development. It is for that reason that the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) exists. One important aspect in trade negotiations will be the possibility to sell processed goods rather than raw materials in order to be able to have more say in the prices negotiations. With a more unified stand these issues will be easier to solve.

In conclusion, it can be said that more countries have discovered or are discovering the economic potential in Ghana and what it has to offer culturally. With this development, the country can serve as a great role model for neighboring countries and as voice for international negotiations. To achieve that goal different parties and individuals have to come together and work on that common goal.

Rudiger Atchon

An interview with the ambassador of Sudan in Spain.

IMG_7813

Mr. Mohamed Abdalla Abdelhameed Ahmed, Ambassador of Sudan in Spain.

On the 31st of May of 2017, I had the privilege to interview the ambassador of Sudan in Spain. Mohamed Abdalla Abdelhameed Ahmed, who has been ambassador of Iran, Canada, United Kingdom and now Spain. He studied Economics and Political Science. The reason I chose to interview Mr. Ahmed was to know more about how the diplomatic life is and have the opportunity to learn more about his country.

The ambassador didn’t know he wanted to be an ambassador as a career, when he finish his career in Economics and Political Science he had the opportunity to do the exams to entering the foreign ministry. He explained that there are a lot of exams, test and interviews you have to make in order to enter. Finally he was accepted, and was send to Iran. If he wouldn’t became an ambassador or studied Economics and Political Science, he would like to study law. Even though his father didn’t like so much the idea of him studying law.

The thing he like the most about his job is the opportunity to get to know different persons around the world and be able to work in so many fields concerning his country and the receiving country where he is working, as economics, politics or culture. I also asked what is one of the difficulties of his job, he thinks the stress that the job could generate. Also one of the difficult thigs about his job is the fact that he is traveling a lot and moving of country. He and his family has to adapt to the new culture of the receiving country, and if the language is different they would have to learn it, also his kids have to attend to international schools. Moreover, when he was ambassador in United Kingdom it was kind of difficult because Sudan was a colony of them, even though they have good relations sometimes they still have tensions.

I asked if Sudan and Spain have a special cultural agreement, he explain me that there are a lot of agreements between the two countries, but one that he could emphasize is one that was more active between the seventies and eighties, where a large amount of Sudanese students came to Spain to study their degrees.

He loves his country, even though as all countries it has their areas to improve. One of the things he miss the most is the hospitality of his people, he explained to me how Sudanese love to receive foreigners and treat them as their own people. Also the social life is one of the things he misses, because as difference as most European countries, Sudanese families tend to have large families. This makes the simple gathering of family be richer. Furthermore he loves the history of his country, which is one of the most ancient in the world, one of the oldest regions is Nubia, which is located at the south of Egypt and north of Sudan, in the Nile River.  Another thing the ambassador likes about his country is the multiculturality of this, even though the official languages are English and Arabic, there are approximately 70 different languages native of Sudan, and are very different between them.

Mr. Ahmed thinks that between Spain and Sudan are some similarities, especially in the personality of the people. As I have said, Sudanese families tend to be large and this is a peculiarity he has observed that is the same in Spain. Moreover he has noticed that Spanish people tend to raise their voice while speaking by phone, he says that Sudanese are tend to be loud. He really likes Spain because of how welcoming are, and reminds him back home.

The ambassador was pleased to explain to me how the relations are between Sudan and South Sudan. For me to understand it better he compared the countries with a family. Where the daughter marries therefore she starts living with the family of her husband. The two families are “different” but still have relations between them. South Sudan independence of Sudan on 2011, they still have good relations, also have economic and trade agreements, and cooperate to dissolve rebel groups in both countries.

Finally Mr. Ahmed encourage young students to work on this field, because is a privilege job, where you can learn a lot, also how interesting the job is because as he said before there are so different fields that you work when you are an ambassador. Furthermore how much the person can offer to the relations that their country is doing.

 

It was an honor to interview Mr. Ahmed.

Written by Emilse Pardo

“For them, women are seen as weak toys and war’s weapons” Mr. O.O. Akinlude

Mr. O.O. Akinlude is the Consular and Immigration Minister of the Embassy of Nigeria in Madrid, Spain. As a specialist in International Relations and Immigration, he has a lot of experience on issues that concern West Africa, especially on issues directly related to Nigeria.

Captura de pantalla 2017-06-05 a las 23.47.04.png

The Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group Boko Haram due to the constant threat is  one of the main reasons why I chose a special representative in Nigeria. This group was founded in 2002 and since 2009 has provoked thousands of altercations where countries like Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Mali and most of Nigeria have been affected.

The first part to be analysed was the description of the current situation of Nigeria after the continuous attacks by the terrorist group Boko Haram, as well as the handling of the situation by the government and economic impact to this fear in the country. His face of concern over the subject was clearly apparent. Akinlude began describing that the current situation was based on fear of any unexpected attack, stressing the complexity of anticipating the timing of these attacks. Akinlude emphasised the need for confidence and security on the part of the Nigerian population in the government but in turn empathized with the fact that it was a very complicated situation to demand that calm. He mentioned that since the death of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the entry of arms into Libya had increased considerably, as many barriers that were previously vetoed or closed were opened due to his death.

With regard to the economic impact, he emphasised the importance of Nigeria as one of the leading countries in the oil supply, being in 2017 the second behind Mexico with higher exports (8.1 million tons). But he also criticised the fact that it can not be further developed because of the conflicts that have arisen in recent years, which have damaged Nigeria’s economy.

Captura de pantalla 2017-06-05 a las 23.45.19

Continuing with the importance of the terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria, in the second part of the interview the questions were related to specific topics carried out by the group in recent years, where we highlight the kidnapping of 82 girls in Chibouk (north-eastern Nigeria) and attacks of suicidal children in the last two years. The question about the abduction procedure was very necessary, as well as the role of women as the object of these attacks. Akinlude explained that 200 girls were abducted on April 14, 2014 and in October 2016, 21 of them were released thanks to the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Switzerland), but that it was not until May 7 when the news of the release of 82 of them was announced. The recruitment of combatants through kidnappings is very common by the terrorist group, especially in the border territory with Chad, Cameroon and Niger. The release of the girls, according to Akinlude, was an exchange of prisoners of war belonging to the Boko Haram group.

The use of children with the target of suicide attacks was one of the points to analyse, where Akinlude gave a figure of 117 attacks. These were the attacks carried out by minors by the terrorist group Boko Haram (80% of the bombs are caused by children). Akinlude exemplified the detonation in 2016 at the mosque in Kolofata (10 people were killed), repeating itself in 2015.

Regarding the question about the role of the woman he commented, “For them, women are seen as weak toys and war’s weapons”. This is a very harsh, cruel, and real statement of how women are treated in these war processes. Women are seen more vulnerable and able to succumb to this type of terrorist groups, seeing this weakness in the same way the children.

171697-944-651

20minutos.es

The third part of the interview was based on future interventions and aid with modernised material adapted to the fight against terrorism in Nigeria to combat this group, since in December 2016 it was believed to be crushed but the attacks continued. Akinlude stresses the current attitude of Russia, which has offered to give aid until 2018 (Covenant by Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama). In addition, in this last year Cameroon has received a total of 96,000 refugees and in Diffa (north-eastern Nigeria) there are 240,000 displaced people fleeing the wars.

Finally I asked him a question about how he saw Nigeria in the future. He emphasized a small smile of hope showing the desire that this big problem, “Hell”, ends.

This interview has made me reflect on the problems that occur around us. Many times we see these problems so external to us that we do not give them the importance they have and after this interview I have felt very closed and I have been able to see the complicated situation of Nigeria more closely.

It was a pleasure to interview Mr O.O. Akinlude.

 

Andrea Centeno Pobre

 

Ethiopian athletes “cross” for their rights

00360277-ba443bca46de1382631677e163c962e0-arc614x376-w285-us1

Reuters Media Express

The history of Ethiopia is complicated because of the different regimes and types of government the country has gone through the last decades. The last civil war in 1991 lead the country to a “democratic” system, where the president started to make political and social reforms. It has been 17 years since the independence of Ethiopia, but the people are still fighting for their rights. This is why some athletes, have shown their support in different ways when winning different competitions. By using their right of freedom of expression, we think that they are using properly their right to express their feelings against what is happening in their country.  

There are public personalities that have a lot of influence on people. Sports personalities are normally also spokesperson for brands and also having the opportunity to show the world what is happening in the world. Sports events become great opportunities for these protests and struggles for the rights of many countries to be seen and heard around the world. Many athletes are  even in danger of death by their own countries because of the impact that they cause with their gestures of protest. An example is the case of Feyisa Lilesa, an Ethiopian athlete who crossed his wrists on the head in relation to the Demonstrators of Oromo.

Doing sports can give you a lot of valuable lessons about life. It helps people of all ages to learn about hard work, dedication, respect and fairness. The last two are very important in this case. If one can learn how to respect others and treat them fair playing a sport, why should that not be possible in everyday life? We have many rules in sports to keep them organized and fair, however  when it comes to simple things in life as human rights, authorities ignore them in many cases. Athletes such as Feyisa Lilesa who is  a male distance runner is doing the right thing by protesting the killing of people in the Oromo region in his country. It is important for others to follow him, when it comes to causes related to human rights and lives.  

Politics and sports do not necessarily have to mix but if sports can help raise awareness for certain topics in politics and inform people than it is never frowned on. There have been many cases of confrontation surrounding  sports and political interests. Athletes from soviet countries had to propagate their regime and  if they weren’t willing to cooperate with the government there is a chance of being  executed or sent into work camps. A courage to express opinion with risking freedom is an admirable act. Human rights are an important topic and everyone should care about it. It is important to increase awareness on human right issues in the world.

The main problem is apathy, people disregard the human rights of third world countries as it is something that does not affect them. This is because it is not heavily promoted and also these countries are  far from them. People in this stressful time prefer focusing on themselves more than solving difficult situation in developing countries. Many people do not know about the situation in Oromo or even where it is.Who knows what tomorrow will bring, so we should appreciate the possibility of freedom and try to help those that are still fighting for rights that we take for granted.

Source: United News International