This blog is intended to share my ideas and to have an intellectual debate on the national cultural and ethnic identities in Africa and their relevance for the nation state.

Something about myself: my name is Bert, I am a Dutch social scientist and thinker, born and raised in Amsterdam. I have been involved in the struggle against apartheid and colonialism in the Netherlands. I have visited several African countries, have lived in Kenya and I have a long experience in collaboration with African NGOs and NGO leaders from various African countries.


4 thoughts on “About

  1. Hello Bert,
    nice to read the mission statement of your blog. I feel that the intellectual debate about Africa is important, however, African people from all countries need to be given more often a genuine voice and to be listened to. I find that a lot is talked ‘about’ Africa, but not so much talked ‘with’ Africa…. With his first novel “A White Woman to the Congo” my husband wants to bring up the various topics of ‘cultural differences’ and the often times clashing expectations between the ‘Western world’ and ‘Developing world’ in order to open up this type of dialogue. The established behavioral patterns will not disappear overnight, habits have been formed and change is challenging for sure… but every step towards a deeper and genuine dialogue counts! I believe that you and we can contribute to this EVOLUTION of African countries, instead of keep pushing for simplistic ‘westernization’ ….when I lived in Australia, one of the favorite sayings I learned was: You want the best of both worlds!… i.e. like communication technology, infrastructure, clean water and a working power grid in Africa, but also the respect of customs and traditions and of ways of life that are best suited to the geography and climate present.. Wishing you a great week-end!

  2. Hi Peggy,

    Thank you for that feedback – it makes sense. And yet – you say that African people need to be given a voice. Frankly speaking, I think they should not wait until anybody gives anything to them. Let them stand up and speak (like on http://www.africaontheblog.com/). But I am with you when you say that more talking with Africa, rather than about, is needed.

    On a different note, I must admit that I dislike titles like ‘A White Woman to the Congo’. Such a title conjures up images of the traditional white damsel in distress, threatened by the wild natives with their primitive desires. In other words, a title like that makes one fear that the novel will reinforce racist believes, rather than challenging them.

    You won’t let your husband do that, though, will you? 😉

  3. I agree, it’s not about ‘giving a voice’ , but just use it – then again, when I speak with my nieces and cousins of the Congo, they tend to say ‘what can we do anyway? nobody will listen? why vote? why get an education?”… but you must already have heard this before. I feel it is very tough for them to fight for an ideal while they are wondering what to feed their children for the once a day meal today, not even to mention tomorrow or the day after. So I hope that somehow there is a way to encourage and motivate them to speak out and stand up.
    You may also have guessed that the title of a book is always going to displease somebody, but some provocation might be in order to make people listen up and read on… here the synopsis of the novel:
    “Kazadi, the Chief of a Central African village, wonders how he could help his people to dramatically improve their daily life and reconcile timeless African tradition with 21st century Western lifestyle. He comes up with an unexpected solution to be carried out by his most trustworthy counselor and Chief’s ears, Sumpi. Will Kazadi’s boldness find support or will it cost him his position? The purpose of my writings is to deepen the understanding of the challenges that the African continent faces today, and to suggest options to develop new pathways that take into account ancestral traditions, colonial history, the current economic crisis and environmental issues at today’s historical and political crossroads. The outlook for Africa, a continent with such a young and eager population, its soil abounding in natural riches and its reservoir of biological diversity for the whole World vouches for a bright future if only given the chance to develop its very own system that would satisfy the needs and expectations of the peoples of Africa before anyone else’s. ”
    Dreams, words, actions….that’s our plan 🙂

  4. Hi Peggy,

    Ok – it’s clearer for me now, thanks for that contribution. I will be curious to look beyond the cover of the book, then.

    Congo is, IMHO, a failed state that can never work (see my post on the Kivu). One of the effects of such a failed state is that it disempowers people in a radical way. Very sad, but it is easy to understand why many people in Congo would feel that way. Fortunately, that is not all of Africa, though.

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