African Studies's blog
Throughout most of history, in order to have barons that successfully limited the power of the king or his equivalent (thus creating the roots of post-enlightenment democracy) you needed barons who could extract the life out of peasants. Wars that made states killed lots of young conscripts, confiscated private property and led to the demise of whole peoples’ ways of life (Not all French had French speaking ancestors, for instance).
This summer, I spent three months in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The first part of my summer was spent learning a language, Mooré, while the second half focused on work with an NGO. A French-speaking country, Burkina Faso is home to 63 ethnic groups—each with its own distinct language. In Ouaga (as the capital is affectionately known), almost everyone speaks French, Mooré, and their own ethnic group’s language.
This summer, I worked at IkamvaYouth. Ikamva is a non-profit organisation, that provides supplementary after school tutoring to high school students from grade 8 until grade 12. It equips students with the necessary resources to help them access tertiary institutions and other internship or job opportunities once they graduate. Having worked with Ikamva during my winter quarter of 2012, I went back yet again. This time, as a tutor and with the intention of creating standard Math and Science syllabi for tutors to use.
During my time in Lusaka this summer, one of my favorite things to do was to wander into the colorful labyrinth of Comesa Market, greet the citenge lady at her corner shop, and see how long I could stay lost in murky conversations in a language I was trying hard to understand.
Cape Town, provides a vivid example of urban crisis attributed to late modern capitalism. The city of Cape Town is one of stark contrasts and social fragmentation—built on the policies of apartheid and
The Daily Nation, a popular national newspaper in Kenya, has been both a loyal companion on my morning commute and a source of new research ideas. In fact, a recent story about the Central Government utilizing only 44% of its estimated budget sparked an idea for an entirely new research project. So while I came to Nairobi to study how police respond to protests, I leave it interested in a second topic: why some ministries spend well under half their allocated budgets, while others spend nearly every schilling they have been given.
If there is one thing I have learned in life, it’s that small towns are pretty much the same wherever you go. I’m currently living in Lwak, Kenya which is located in the Nyanza province and is about 5 km from the shore of Lake Victoria. It’s a beautiful area and the Luo people are some of the most gracious I’ve met. Like many other small towns, the people lead relatively simple lives, are friendly and outgoing although somewhat suspicious of outsiders, the food is predominantly local, and the kids are curious and interested in new things.