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Addis Ababa report by Magdalena Chwarscianek


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Addis Ababa report by Magdalena Chwarscianek

  1. 1. INISE aisbl Adress : Square de Meeus – 38/40 Tel /fax : + 44 79079 53348 B 1000 Bruxelles Email: 1 The Addis Ababa summit on cross-continental cooperation, 27-31.01.2014- report Report by Magdalena Chwarścianek Together with Ewa Sadowska and Baiba Dhidha Mjidho I took part in a summit on cross-continental cooperation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia organized by the Institute for Cultural diplomacy from Berlin. The main topic of the summit were the Millennium Development Goals in Africa- the progress in their realization and the future. The MDGs are 8 development goals ( eradicate extreme hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, develop a global partnership for development) agreed at the UN summit in 2000. The first time perspective in which they were put was the time span 2000-2015 so it is now time for conclusions on what has already been achieved and what and how needs to be done in terms of development in Africa. The speakers at the conference were mainly Ethiopian and other African countries university professors and scholars, as well as representatives of government and public administration of African countries. There were also representatives of African civil society organizations ( mainly Nigerian) and church. Our INISE delegation was also asked to speak at this summit about the planned project of Europe with Africa. The participants were also scholars, representatives of organizations, public administration and students from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Qatar and also Europe: Romania and Poland. Day 1 ( 28th of Jan) The conference started on the 28th of January in Ethiopian Foreign Ministry in Addis Ababa and was opened by Mark Donfried- the founder and director of ICD. Representatives of the ministry spoke about the importance of cultural diplomacy in heading towards development. They also spoke about the considerable progress in achieving MDG’s in Ethiopia since 2000 and about the remaining challenges of poverty and deprivation. Ethiopia is in the top-10 fast growing economies in the world. The conclusion was that it is not policies that lead to success, but commitment of many parties involved , good leaders, people to people relationships and engaging the whole communities. Mark Donfried from ICD spoke passionately about the role and mission of cultural diplomacy in today’s world. He said that the main goal of cultural diplomacy is to bring together different actors, from different table to one table and facilitate contacts and building understanding and partnership between them. A great vehicle for cultural diplomacy is music, art etc. In the afternoon, at the main conference location- at Soramba hotel, professor Costantinos ( Addis Ababa University) spoke about the stage of realization of MDG’s in Africa and remaining challenges. He mentioned the example of Ghana, where democratization and changes are advancing well. He also underlined that the borders of the African countries don’t reflect the real differences between
  2. 2. INISE aisbl Adress : Square de Meeus – 38/40 Tel /fax : + 44 79079 53348 B 1000 Bruxelles Email: 2 the countries, for example Ethiopians and Somali people are the same people living in separate countries. Professor Negesse ( University of Gondar) spoke about interesting community service realized by the Faculty of Law at his university. The service is run for vulnerable, excluded people, especially for women, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to pay for the lawyer’s advice. Professor Ali Gangi ( Quatar) spoke about achieving MDG’s in Sudan. He said that there is a considerable improvement in economical, social and healthcare system in Sudan in recent years. He underlined the importance of entrepreneurship education at schools- preparing students to start their own businesses and be entrepreneurial in their professional and social life and contributing to the society. The day finished with bringing attention to the role of cultural diplomacy in building bridges even between the countries which are at war with each other. A short film and an example of joined sport activities for Israeli and Palestinian children was presented and also an example of American jazz music being deliberately ‘exported’ to other countries, also to Soviet Union, to bring and show a positive message about the U.S. Day 2 ( 29th Jan) In the morning dr Ogar Oko spoke about the post 2015 perspective for development goals. He mentioned that often local communities see the MDG’s as UN goals and don’t take responsibility for achieving them. Dr Oko stressed that even achieving the MDG’s how it was planned will not solve all the problems completely. There will always be challenges and there is a need to think beyond the MDG’s 2015 . When the MDG’s were formulated in 2000 and a perspective of 15 years was set to achieve them it was just a foundation, inspiration for more intense development. Dr Oko underlined the importance of focusing not only on developing the external conditions. He said that moral and spiritual development are equally important. You can’t limit the development to some specific area. There should be a culture of development. Dr Oko said that such a technical obstacle as visas which an African needs to go to many other African countries are wrong and should be abolished. Prof Sarah.N.Jibril (advisor on ethics and human rights to the president of Nigeria) spoke about the role of ethics in political and social life. Ethics means ‘character’ in Nigeria. She said that ethics and values cannot be taught on empty stomachs, empty pockets and unskilled hands. Solution formula she presented was : food ( basic needs met) plus ethics plus skills equals good governance and development. Grass-root initiatives are very common in Nigeria, there are also religious educators active, who show the common points in religions to help people grow beyond interreligious suspicion. Values unite according to prof.Jibril. There is righteousness in Christianity that corresponds with shariat in islam. Prof Jibril said that the Africans are very much God-conscious people. There is a fear of God present in Africa more than in Europe. Godless tendencies are abomination to African people. Prof Jibril underlined that African people are : changeable, transformable and teachable.
  3. 3. INISE aisbl Adress : Square de Meeus – 38/40 Tel /fax : + 44 79079 53348 B 1000 Bruxelles Email: 3 Professor Geberekidan ( University of Gondar) spoke about the role of his university in achieving MDG’s. He spoke about the difficulties as well: lack of finance for outreach, no partnerships with civil society. There was a discussion about the leaders in Africa. The African leaders often are a disappointment. There is a great potential, there are educated people, but somehow there are no good leaders. And good leaders is what Africa needs badly. What to do to achieve that? There are changes needed in educational system, leadership programs, know –how. Tsion Teklu Maru ( U.S. diplomatic mission in Ethiopia) spoke about cultural diplomacy and MDG’s. Culture is the way we do things. People are always the soul of the nation. The human capital is the biggest capital of each country. Cultural diplomacy is always about the people. There is no problem with materials in Africa, but with people, with leadership. There should be a free movement of people, trade, goods in Africa and instead of that passports and often visas are still needed to move from one African country to another. Another problem in Africa is lack of commitment and dedication. Not lack of potential. Baiba Dhidha Mjidho commented on the speech of Ms Maru saying that there is a need of civic responsibility and participation in what is happening around us. Everybody can have some small contribution in making the local life better, solving some local problem etc. In the evening the former president of Romania- Mr Emil Constantinescu joined the conference. Mr Constantinescu said that we are building a culture of peace and respect. We can change the world, we have the ‘soft power’ to do that. In past the diplomacy was built on strength, persuasion, but a ‘soft’, cultural diplomacy is much better and more effective. It is not possible to eradicate classical diplomacy, but cultural diplomacy should be enhanced. We should plan for more. If we want to achieve peace and understanding among people we need to do more. Mr Constantinescu spoke also about the role of faith and spirituality. He said that we are God’s creation and forgetting that is arrogance. There is a need to create a human face capitalism. There was a question from the participants: ‘ How can we create a culture of peace, when poverty still exists?’ Mr Constantinescu answered that money spent for military reasons is a waste of money. This money should be redirected to education, creating workplaces and then we would be able to really eradicate poverty. The history is a history of wars- not a history of peace. We should start perceiving history in a different manner. There was a question about the leaders- why do we get so bad leaders in Africa? Mr Constantinescu answered that we need to take into consideration the human nature. Some people are not prepared to be at the service of society and when they get power it demoralizes them. Another thing is mentality. In France, in the UK it is impossible to have a dictator. People have democratic mentality and they will not allow this. Mr Constantinescu said also that the politicians shouldn’t be involved in business when they decide to be politicians. There is no time for that, you need to commit to service to the society when you are elected and have the respect for power and responsibility you have. Ewa Sadowska asked the president what Central and South-Eastern European countries have in common with the African countries and what could we learn from each other. Mr Constantinescu answered that there is a ‘pedagogy of suffering’ which Middle and Eastern European countries and countries in Africa have in common. In Western Europe there are no such experiences.
  4. 4. INISE aisbl Adress : Square de Meeus – 38/40 Tel /fax : + 44 79079 53348 B 1000 Bruxelles Email: 4 Mr Constantinescu analyzed also the question – why do people vote for dictators. Because they don’t want to take responsibility themselves. One needs to be an actor of one’s life, not a spectator. Day 3 ( 30th of Jan) 0n the last day there were more interesting lectures at the Goethe Institute. There was a summit of African Union taking place in Addis Ababa at the same time as our conference and the African Union was much spoken about . Our INISE representation had a presentation titled “INISE- supporting and empowering marginalized communities in Africa through Social Market Economy in collaborative partnership of Europe with Africa”. Our presentation was received with interest and a lot of questions. Generally it was in my opinion very important that INISE took part in this interesting conference, to learn more about the situation and challenges in Africa, to meet the potential partners and collaborators and to see how Africans receive the INISE ideas. It was first such real confrontation in Africa and I think it was very successful, we were received with cautiousness , but eventually with enthusiasm and interest. A lot of contacts with professors, churches and some civic society organizations were made. The conference was also an occasion to meet with the INISE members from the University of Mekelle. Magdalena Chwarścianek