As I write this article I have mixed emotions. I am so excited to tell you all about my experience in the land of Vikings, and at the same time it is becoming a reality that my time is nigh. Not to worry much, thanks to all these social networks and good internet connection I am positive all the friends I have made are just but a click away.
Today, August 9 is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. A time to celebrate the cultural diversity of these unique societies that have blossomed in ancient times and still inhabit almost all regions of our planet, from the Artic to the Amazon. Indigenous peoples are wardens of an incredibly rich and endangered mosaic of cultures and languages, and behold invaluable knowledge about their environments and territories. They represent, at the same time, a window to our past – to remind us that we live in a much more complex and multifaceted world than we are used to believe in – and an inspiration to our future – to show us how to better take care of our environment, in a time of acute climate crisis, and how to think outside our mind-boxes, formatted by logical reasoning, scientific paradigms and linear notions of time.
It is also a time to grieve over the extermination of indigenous peoples due to historical colonization. Genocide and forced assimilation of indigenous peoples to so called “modern” societies have also been a common shared heritage (or curse) that we should not forget nor forgive. Whole nations have been expelled from their ancestral lands, decimated by disease and warfare, brainwashed by religious missionaries for several centuries until today. Spanish conquistadores and Wild West cowboys have too often been romanticized and glorified in history books. It is time to rewrite them.
This spring the first group of Students At Risk (StAR) students graduated. I am deeply humbled as I am one of them. As the first graduates, we begin new chapters in our lives, some are going back home, some will remain outside their home countries because of various reasons. I strongly believe that my fellow graduates will continue with their activism wherever life may take them to.
Perioden som leder av SAIH nærmer seg slutten, og mens jeg jobber for å sluttføre tusenvis av prosesser, strømmer det på minner fra året som har gått. Når sola skinner inn på kontoret mitt her i Oslo, går tankene tilbake til en solfylt dag da jeg sto foran en bil med påskriften «You shall never walk alone» langs hele siden.
Jeg var på reise for SAIH, og nei – selv om vi har latt oss inspirere av fotballverdenen i årets politiske kampanje, var jeg ikke i Liverpool. Denne solfylte dagen befant jeg meg i Harare, Zimbabwe. Bilen tilhørte ikke en fotballklubb, men SAIHs partnerorganisasjon Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ).
While the most blatant cases of violation of academic freedom we hear about are often related to violence against students, other subtler ways of violating academic freedom seem to be on the rise. In recent years, many universities in Southern Africa have developed discipline codes, student pledges or disciplinary sanctions to regulate the behaviour of students at campus. Such regulations usually describe cases of student misconduct and related sanctions, which may include suspension and permanent expulsion.
Det store problemet ved universiteter i Zimbabwe er ikke nødvendigvis at kvaliteten på utdanningen har blitt så mye dårligere. Men korrupsjon og påfølgende mangel på ressurser gjør at utdanningssystemet har blitt stående på stedet hvil i mange år. Fortsetter trenden med å nedprioritere og privatisere utdanningssystemet, vil langtidseffekten føre til at både utdannede og ikke-utdannede zimbabwere vil henge etter i en globalisert verden.
I’m at a Café in the middle of La Paz, Bolivia, with a direct view out to “La Plaza del Estudiante”. The plaza is filling up with demonstrators, as it apparently does quite often, just as it should at a student square. Even though I’m wishing all the best to the peaceful protesters, at the moment I’m more interested in what the person on the other side of the coffee-table is telling me. Juan Carlos Balderas Gamarra is the director of SAIH's partner organization CEADL, an umbrella organisation for youth-organizations in Bolivia. Their main goal is creating new leaders and political engagement amongst the newer generations.
The subway has been switched out with kombis (private vans that make up the transport system). The calm sometimes abandon streets of Oslo has been replaced with the busy streets of Harare, always with a vendor nearby. And the cold of the Norwegian autumn has been replaced with the burning sun of Zimbabwe. After three months in Oslo we have begun the second chapter of our journey here in Harare with Katswe Sistahood.
For those of you who don’t know exactly what the Young Women in Leadership Exchange is about, here’s a recap: We are six young women linked together in an exchange for nine months that will take us from Norway to Zimbabwe before we finish in South Africa. The theme for our exchange is Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) as well as feminism, trying in all manners to learn about the various mechanisms that keep women from experiencing the same rights as our male counterparts.
All these fancy words aside, how do we spend our days? The truth is that each day varies to a degree that makes it impossible to call something normal. Some days we have meetings the six of us, updating each other on what’s been going on and planning our event for International Women’s Day. We meet with various organizations and people learning an equal amount about SRHR as well as how they operate within a heavily restricted civil society. Some days we spend in the Katswe office, others with the Katswe staff out in the communities. The other day we went to Epworth on the outer skirts of Harare to join one of these community meeting. Attending were sex workers, people living with HIV, community leaders and youths - all discussing how best to ensure that their rights are being upheld.