Sunday Reads Nov 29


  1. Enough of aid – let’s talk reparations by Jason Hickel.
  2. Cucumber Agua Fresca – recopy of the lovely Mexican drink i had in Sand Diego.
  3. Everything about Tanzania’s new president Magufuli, for instance Magufuli scraps Independence day celebrations (BBC) and Bah humbug in Tanzania as president cancels Xmas cards (Aljazeerah).

Inspired by personal role models, Ory Okolloh Mwangi and Chris Blattman, I want to share articles I read with my followers on a somehow regular basis. I hope to make Sunday Reads a weekly feature to be shared here and on Twitter!

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Prof. Mkandawire to University of Ghana

Every year in March (this year April for some reason), the University of Ghana gives all its students a lavish gift: The Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lecture Series. A world known scholar will give a lecture, many times on development or similar, and the community comes together and celebrates the best academia has to offer. This year Professor Thandika Mkandawire from the London School of Economics is the speaker.

Mkandewiret_85x119Earlier speakers have been Dr. Ernesto Zedillo, former president of Mexico (2012), Prof. Wole Soyinka (2007) , but I can’t find a proper list of them all…Anyway, Mkandawire is originally from Malawi, but has lived and worked all over the world, notably for the UN (for its Research Institute on Social Development), CODESRIA (organization for African Universities), and at universities in UK, Zimbabwe and even Sweden! I have come across his work on the past and future of universities in Africa, as it is a topic that interests me. So I am looking forward to this lecture series! As this was not enough, I have gotten interesting reactions to that he is lecturing in Ghana: “he is fun/wild/crazy” is often said, so now my hopes are even higher!

The lectures take place in the Great Hall at the very top of the Legon campus this week and are open to the public:

Wed 17th April, 2013 5 PM ‘From “Recovery” to Development”

Thu 18th April, 2013 5 PM “Bringing Social Equality Back in”

Fri 19th, 2013 2.30 PM “The University and “Catching up”

I believe the last leg will be very interesting for my research and think Prof is referring to a World Bank document “Accelerating Catch-Up: Tertiary Education for Growth in Africa” (2009) where Africa’s universities (should) catch up. I am guessing he thinks “catching up” is not the best image for the process that is ongoing on the continent, maybe it suggests Africa should “follow” the West, maybe he thinks the World Bank should not be trusted when it comes to higher education, maybe he thinks Africa’s leaders should aim higher than just catching up…In addition, I hope he says something about “knowledge societies”, the newest buzz word on the block, but the one who listens will find out!

A funny detail is that Mkandawire was also chosen to be the Distinguished Nyerere Lecturer 2013 in Tanzania and seem to combine the two lectures in one trip!

Photo borrowed from LSU


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My Africa: Swedes in Africa

Photo credit: DN/Benedicte Kurzen

Yesterday, as a part of the South Africa World Cup report, Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter featured five interviews with Swedes living in Africa under the heading “Mitt Afrika” or “My Africa” after Karen Blixen‘s novel with the same name ( in English it was called “Out of Africa”).

I must say I enjoyed reading the interviews by DN’s Africa correspondant Anna Koblanck, (with people like me!). I especially liked the interview with the newly wed Swedish woman in Soweto, Maria Westlund Malepa.  Still, I found that some clichés were repeated about life in Africa: “I have learned how to wait” “Sure I am scared sometimes.. is it soldiers who had too much to drink and shoot, thieves or a new war happening somewhere?” and “the weather, the people, the colors”. But to be fair, other images were shared as well, such as Botswana/Africa being a good place to raise children and Tanzania a place to further your career.

The cap article stated that there are fewer Swedes in Africa today than earlier due to that aid agencies these days post less Swedes in Africa and make more local hires. But I wonder if this is really making the number of Swedes in Africa smaller? Is there a way to find out?

I think Swedes in Africa are more than ever before. I was recently surprised by how many Swedes actually do live in Ghana for example.  The globalization is opening up for many more opportunities. Also, people in my generation seem to to a larger extent value “experience from abroad”and then particularly from developing countries. I have the feeling we rather seek the opportunity than expect to be heavily compensated if it arises.

The mystique and lure of “My Africa” might be bigger than some think.

Also, I should stop saying I have learned how to wait in Ghana and blame Africa when I am running late to meetings!

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