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A new place… but still me!

18 Sep

I refuse to believe there is no solution to the hunger, pain, malnutrition, climate change, poverty of mind and wallet. I see food, medication, education, clean water, decent housing and employment for every human being. Call me a dreamer, but I cannot sit back. I prefer to get moving and building towards billions of people living a life every human deserves.

Millions of people in the world think like me, thankfully I am not special. There are thousands of volunteers in Africa, decades of NGO work and Development Coooperation have come and gone. Hundreds of Millions in the world donate for the betterment of peoples’ suffering. But still the problems seem to be getting worse, not better.

Between making money and making a difference, choose both!

I heard this slogan in 2010 and got excited. You can make a sustainable income and still change lives?
Sounds like the answer to a lot of challenges in Emerging Market and Developing Countries. Byebye Corruption? I hope you are as excited about it as I am and hopefully even more.
In 2011 I started my career as a consequence of my time in Africa. I am now part of the Social Business Movement by joining edgeand I moved to London.

It’s another step towards supporting change in this region that I hold very dear. The journey starts today, be with my on manumoments.wordpress.com!

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I cried but I no longer cry

13 Sep

A really nice story from a traveller in Ethiopia:

http://socialbackpack.weebly.com/1/post/2011/08/i-cried-but-i-no-longer-cry.html

All bad?

7 Jul

Read an opinion on foreign investment in Africa here

7 months in Uganda

20 Dec

I have stayed in Uganda for 7 months now. Yes, my stay had many breaks; I went to Rwanda, India, Tunisia, Kenya in between, but the main point here is: I should be able to answer the question: “How is Uganda?”

First of all: Uganda is different from Kenya.
The food, the culture, the people, the economy, the language, the history. This is a different country.

Did anyone think, that Poland and Germany are the same?

It seems obvious but strikes me still all the time and makes it hard for me to figure out many things.

Secondly: Uganda is Jungle.
The most beautiful time of the day is the evening, when misty clouds come up between the hills of Kampala, the birds go silent and the crickets start their noise and the palm trees stand out majestically above the daily traffic chaos.

This country is fertile! Bananas grow everywhere, Jackfruit trees. Grasshoppers make noise in my bedroom the whole night. The amount of spiders in the house easily exceeds the amount of liters of water we use per month. Without ever planting anything in our garden we were able to harvest 2 water melons and at least 50 tomatoes.

This is the time when Uganda feels closer to Congo than to Kenya.

Thirdly: Ugandans have a rich culture
No. Not true. Not only one. Uganda has over 50 different tribes, and for me it is still impossible to distinguish them. But for example the Baganda have a rich culture and traditions. Even if I can not visit the famous tombs (they were destroyed in a fire early this year), I can still observe the king, the clothes and the relations between genders and generations. It is visible in daily life and influences also the behavior of the youth.

Girls relate mainly amongst each other and boys with boys. Friendship between girls is an important good. Dating is another big riddle to me, because Ugandan men are used to buying their girls everything and contributing 80% of the conversation. Girls are left in awe and can’t help but fall in love with a man who can provide for a family. As long as she can cook, listen and is pretty, she is wife material. The family is someone’s most important stakeholder. This can even lead to employers having to watch the employees being late or taking off during important work periods because of (elsewhere as basic regarded) family incidents.

Ugandans are more reserved. They don’t exactly openly speak critically, jump on new opportunities or take up responsibilities.
They are happy if somebody is interested in their culture but they don’t force it on you. Yes, they always greet strangers. But I hereby officially refuse to accept that Ugandans are more hospitable that Kenyans, if at all I suggest that it is a different kind of hospitability. There is no way I can live in Kenya for 7 months but not be invited to a family function by my friends. My Luganda is still sooo basic, even though I have asked for lessons often.

Ugandans are more traditional, less westernized. So much in Theory. They passionately hate homosexuality and as much as Christians and Muslims seem rivals in building mosques/churches and attracting believers to the right god, they both believe that life without god is doomed to fail.
One thing I do not understand in this context are the nearly naked (mostly fat) women on the front pages of the newspapers that are displayed everywhere on the street (with wanna-be moral key messages like “so and so was seen with whores”, “police cant fight it. pole dancing now a key activity in Kampalas night clubs“). Well-dressed Ugandan young men who pray several hours every Sunday stand at the newspaper stands and “read” the cover page for several minutes, shake their heads politically correct before hurrying on.

Ugandans love their music. And I agree; their music is awesome! A bit slower, Caribbean somehow, with humorous messages. Ugandan young men can actually go out and dance by themselves for hours. For me after living in Nairobi for long, this was a great relief, as I don’t always enjoy the in Kenya usual one-on-one penetration and constant running away from boys. For many of our interns it was still a big shock, because one on one dancing is much more intense here than even I know it. This is a public place, so I cannot repeat the explanation I got once when I told a guy to keep his crotch near his own behind.

Lastly and mos importantly: Uganda is a great place to live
The economic potential is there, the East African market is growing, there are many Opportunities to start businesses or contribute to the expansion of infrastructures.
Low rents, relatively cheap food and transport costs, now also cheaper internet and phone costs. Kampala is a very safe environment; we have lovely neighbors and extremely pleasant weather.
The ubiquitous dust is the downside but at least I wont have to blame myself for smoking in case I die of lung cancer.

Chinese in Africa

9 Dec

One million Chinese live in Africa today. They do business, they create employment. With Locals and more over each other. Companies want to tap into the growing chinese community in East Africa…. Insurance Policies, Bank Accounts, let us be the first to work with them. New Roads! New Cars! Money circulating in dried up economies!

The flipside?

Today Spiegel.de writes about how Chinese Enterprises abuse Africas (in this case Zambias) resources and inhabitants.

Yes, the relationship between Chinese and African countries is tense. Increasing investment in infrastructure is welcomed by many Kenyans. More Chinese than White faces in Kampalas city center are expected soon. Mainly internationals  welcome the Chinese Cuisine.  Chinese are very likely to be stopped by Police and have to produce their passport showing their immigration status. White people not so much.

Since the beginning of the year AIESEC has brought around 30 Chinese students to volunteer in Uganda for 6-8 weeks. They have all left the country again. They gained their own picture of what Africa can give to the world and what it needs. Not only have they not mistreated locals, but also have they contributed financially to the economy by touring the country and to the education of different communities. We are working on creating more such opportunities.

For the Embassies it is hard to distinguish the dozens of Visa applicants, so yesterday 4 Chinese AIESECers were denied Visa for Uganda in Beijing. Work in Progress!

McKinsey about Africa

1 Aug

http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/soziales/0,1518,701916,00.html

A look at Nigeria – and a possible solution

25 Apr

An AIESECer from Nigeria writes….
http://ayobankoleakintujoye.blogspot.com/2010/04/nigerian-situationand-possible.html