Lahoucine is a hiking guide and is taking a course on Traditional Chinese Medicine. Idir attends the Rudolf Steiner School in Marrakech.
lives in a suburb of Antanarivo.
Her sister is a midwife and gives an insight into her profession.
has crossed the Mediterranean in a boat. His family still lives in his home village.
Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Irene
Irene Allen Namisango (25) was born and raised in Uganda. She studied tourism at Makerere University in Kampala and is passionate about writing the blog Uganda Uncovered. In this blog, she brings readers closer to her country in an amusing way.
Irene, would you like to explain the peculiarity of your name?
Namisango is a local name that means crimes. I oftenly get questions like, “Are you a criminal or a verdict?”, because in Uganda, local names given to children are usually attached to seasons at which they are born, situations in which they are born, places they are born in and several other things.
How can we imagine your hometown?
Buddo is my hometown in Wakiso District, Uganda. It’s a small village known for elites because it has some of the most historical secondary schools like Kings College Buddo, a renowned old high school for kings of Buganda (Buganda ist ein Königreich im heutigen Uganda). Wakiso district is situated in the central region of the country, about 38km away from Uganda’s capital Kampala.
In my hometown, tourism is not so much as we only have one historical place called Nagalabi, a coronation place for the kings of Buganda.
What childhood memories would you like to share with us?
For some reason, I wondered why nature placed me in Uganda and not one of the rich white countries like USA. It was at around 20 years when I joined Makerere University for a “Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism that I started appreciating my country when I started travelling to its different corners.
For my childhood, I hated the fact that in my country we had to wake up to heading to gardens every day, having the local foods like matooke (a national dish made from steamed green plantains) and not the pizzas and burgers I watched in the movies. How we would share bedrooms with like four of our siblings yet in the movies that we could watch a little girl of 4 years had her own room which I couldn’t afford even at 20 years.
I forgot that it´s those small things that grew us together and created a love bond unbreakable that now when a sister is down, I also be down, it´s those bed sharing that we learnt how to share with colleagues and not allow the tiny pretty things overtake us. Most of all, we learnt to be contented with what we had.
I loved playing a game called “sonko”. We draw lines on the ground that we skip, having a stone like child you keep on throwing to the next class for you to continue playing, when you fail, you lose out and wait for a colleague to play. When they fail too, you play again, and the game continues until the first one to reach the last class becomes the winner.
What made you decide to write a blog?
Starting to travel over Uganda, seeing the unique cultures, some of the world’s most beautiful wildlife, sprawling savannas, vast ever-changing landscapes, exclusive resorts plus so many other wonders that I had never thought of. I agreed that my pearl was simply created to be protected, and no one would do it better than me.
I started blogging about my country, to expose off all the hidden beauties that the world knew not, first to make fellow Ugandans fall in love with their country and next foreigners to yearn to visit Uganda. Now this is my passion.
Why are you "on fire" for your work?
What I love most about my profession is that it has given me the most opportunity to know the best beauties that nature placed in my country, perhaps I would never knew them if I was a doctor treating people somewhere in Mulago Hospital; Uganda’s biggest hospital.
Do you see sustainable development in tourism?
I won´t say that Tourism is new in Uganda, because we still look back to the 1950’s when the first explorers came to the country, however it’s a fresh industry that people have just started embracing, and it has come at a perfect moment when sustainable tourism is also blossoming. I would say that tourism growth in Uganda is nearly walking together, hand in hand with sustainable development.
How many ethnic groups live in Uganda?
We have over 56 diverse tribes with different languages, dress codes, rituals and beliefs.
Did you go on vacations as a child?
When I was a kid, I never had any vacations, traveling is not a culture that is instilled in us as young children in Uganda. So the only basic times I traveled was when we went for field work trips at my primary school. I remember visiting the source of the Nile in Jinja and Bujagali falls, an obvious case because almost every primary school in Uganda takes its pupils to Jinja almost every year.
What else would you like to share with us from Uganda?
Generally, Uganda is a beautiful country at I would still choose even in a thousand times, to retire here, perhaps in a countryside close to Kidepo Valley national park; Africa’s only true wilderness, or on one of the 77 islands on East Africa’s largest lake; Victoria.
I am a proud Ugandan who enjoys having breakfast at 10am in the morning, lunch at 1pm and my dinner at 8pm at home as the society has taught us.
The hospitality in my country is one where you ask a stranger on the street where a place is, and they opt to just take you there. There is a way Uganda’s motto is portrayed in the actions of Ugandans on the streets, ‘For God and my country”, they make sure everyone is okay and happy in the pearl of Africa.
Come to Uganda to experience the way of life in the pearl of Africa and many more amazing experiences you will probably never find elsewhere.
has planted over a million trees and is one of the youngest ambassadors for climate change.
from the San tribe of the ‡Khomani has discovered the roots of her ancestors step by step during a training program.
passes on its know-how to farmers with a lot of idealism in order to improve their living conditions.
Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Lahoucine and his son Idir
Lahoucine (48) was born at 1,900 metres above sea level in a Berber village in the Aït Bougoumez valley in the central High Atlas. After five years of primary school in the valley, he attended secondary school, where he lived with his brother, a teacher. Lahoucine graduated from high school in Marrakech and then began training as a hiking guide.
Along the way, he has been taking a course in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for over two years.
How established is TCM in Morocco?
Lahoucine: Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medicine of the wealthy in Marrakech. As Berbers, we ourselves have an old medical tradition in terms of acupuncture points, massages and phytotherapy (herbal medicine). We use argan oil, for example, to disinfect wounds or for joint pain and impure skin. I personally find it a pity that the knowledge of traditional Berber medicine is fading into the background. Many believe that all kinds of pills can alleviate any complaint in a very short time.
How do you feel about your life as a Moroccan?
Lahoucine: Positive. I love my job, I feel like a modern nomad. What I appreciate about Al Maghrib (Land of Sunset) is the enormous variety of different landscapes, our history, the tradition and our food. I associate the smell of couscous with family, with coming home, with security.
The official name is Al-Mamlaka al-maghribiya (the Maghreb Kingdom). The name Morocco is derived from the city of Marrakech.
Describe briefly your family life.
Lahoucine: We live together with our cat Mimi in a house in the lively city of Marrakech. With almost 2 million inhabitants, Marrakech is the fourth largest city in Morocco.
Idir: My sister Khira (14) and I (12) attend the Waldorf-Steiner School. We speak Tamazight (a Berber language), Swiss-German and Darija (an Arabic dialect) at home and with friends.
How did you meet your wife?
Lahoucine: I met my wife Brigitte, who comes from the Sankt Gallen region, in 1997 on a wonderful hiking tour in the desert. A tour that changed my life! After a long-distance relationship lasting several years, she moved to Morocco in 2001.
Idir, would you like to describe your daily life?
Idir: With pleasure. I get up at 7 a.m. during school days (Monday - Friday), usually have breakfast with bread, honey and fruits before my mother or father takes me to school by car. The days with history on the timetable are the ones I look forward to the most.
At my school, the languages offered are High Arabic, French, English, German and Spanish.
I meet my friends, whom I can reach easily on foot, to play football at the weekend or on Wednesday afternoons, provided we don't have afternoon classes.
In the evening, between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., when the smell of tagine or couscous hits the air, I get hungry.
I usually go to bed around 9 p.m.
What does a holiday mean to you as a family?
Lahoucine: Being in nature, hiking, sleeping under the stars in a cosy sleeping bag. Together as a family, we relax with relatives in the valley of Bougoumez.
Idir: I go to Switzerland with my sister and my mother for four to five weeks during the three-month summer holidays. What I enjoy most about the holidays is reading in bed, meeting friends and playing a lot!
What emotionally moves you at the moment?
Lahoucine: I made a video with Khadija, Khira, Mlaid, Naima and Touda in January. These five women have a cooperative in my home village of Imlghas. There are about 60 families living in my home village and about 32 villages in the Bougoumez valley.
The women weave carpets with white and black wool, dyeing them in bright colours with the help of plants and minerals.
Every afternoon, these women meet to work.
I made this video to show how a Berber carpet is made from scratch. In this way, I hope to preserve traditional knowledge and pass it on to younger generations, like my children.
In the video, the women paint beautiful henna tattoos. What is the deeper meaning of these tattoos?
Lahoucine: Henna provides a link between individual women to make them feel pretty, valued and comfortable, and is a long-standing part of our culture. The paste is extracted from the leaves of the henna plant. The leaves are ground into a fine powder, mixed with water and the paste is ready.
The patterns are applied to the hands, feet and face.
Henna tattoos are traditionally applied at weddings, at the end of Ramadan, at the Feast of Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha), which takes place this year in July.
Women mourning their deceased husband are forbidden to decorate their skin with henna tattoos for 4 months and 10 days.
During this time, women are dressed in white and do not enter into a relationship with a new man. After the mourning period, a new life begins for the woman.
Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Enoela Cathy
Enoela Cathy (24) lives in Belanitra, a suburb in the north of Antanarivo, or Tana for short, the capital of Madagascar.
Her love of the German language led her to pursue a career in tourism.
Enoela Cathy currently works in a travel agency in the capital. There she takes care of enquiries and handles reservations.
Since her time at the Lycée Luigi Orione (LCO) Namehana, a secondary school, she has been learning German with great enthusiasm. At university, she earned a bachelor's degree in German.
Is it common to learn German in Madagascar?
No, not at all. But I love the sound of the language, the language culture. In my secondary school, German was offered alongside English and French. That's where I first came into contact with the German language.
How long is your way to work?
It varies. Depending on the traffic, I calculate at least 1 ½ hours each way for a distance of around 15 km. Sometimes it takes me two hours. Because of Corona, the number of people allowed on a bus is limited to 17. Before Corona, there were 10 more people. As a result, I often have to wait for several buses to get a seat on the bus. Because of this, my alarm clock rings at 5 a.m. every day. On the way to work I like to read books and on the way home I sometimes listen to music (e.g. classical music or Erick Manana Tiako).
Can you introduce me to your family?
I was born as the second of four daughters. Together with our cat and our dog, we live in a comfortably furnished house. My older sister is called Sherinah Ida, she is 26 years old and a midwife. My two younger sisters are 14 and 21 years old and are studying or still going to school.
Would your sister like to tell us something about her profession as a midwife?
Sherinah Ida: I would love to. I work in a hospital with its own maternity ward in a village. The hospital has a single 5-bed room for the recovery of the mothers. To create privacy, the beds are separated with curtains.
In my area, many pregnant women attend a childbirth preparation course, where they learn a lot about breathing or try out different birth positions, among other things. There are no examinations prescribed by the state, neither before nor after birth. The state provides the Centres de Santé de Base (CSBII), which are health centres, also for expectant mothers and babies, which can be visited for a small fee. The more rural the area, the further away is the next CSBII.
At the birth itself, it is customary in my area for the father and parents of the couple to be present.
Becoming mothers are treated with great respect. If a pregnat woman gets on a bus, she is automatically given a seat and if she has to wait in a queue, she is automatically let ahead.
Maternity leave is spread over a total period of 14 weeks (before and after childbirth). In Antanarivo, it is common for women to return to work 6 weeks after giving birth.
The youngest woman I was allowed to accompany at the birth was only 16 years old, the oldest at the age of 51.
Enoela Cathy, what do you think is unique about your region?
The region where I live is called Analamanga. What is special about my area are the 12 sacred hills of Imerina. The number twelve here is to be understood as the sacred number of Merina cosmology.
The hills have historical, political or spiritual significance for the Merina tribe.
What I particularly appreciate about my region is the hospitality and helpfulness of the people. If I have a problem, I can count on strangers to help me.
What do you usually eat?
I love pork with cassava leaves and prefer to drink mineral water or cow's milk.
Like most Malagasy, I eat rice three times a day. Supposedly, the people in Madagascar eat an average of 120 kg of rice per year. In comparison, the per capita consumption in China is around 77 kg of rice per year. In the morning, I eat rice in the form of a soup or a mofo gasy (rice pancake), and at lunch and dinner, rice with zebu (humpbacked beef), chicken or vegetables. Most of the rice is grown in the highlands of Madagascar.
Which festival is the highlight of the year for you?
National Day. On 26th June 1960, Madagascar achieved its independence from France. We celebrate this festival during the day with a big military parade at Mahamasina Stadium and in the evening everyone walks through the streets with lanterns. It is a beautiful festival of lights.
What does "The Diversity of People" mean translated into your mother tongue?
My mother tongue is Malagasy and the diversity of people is called:
NY FAHASAMIHAFAN'NY OLONA
Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Boukary
Boukary (35) grew up in a village with the exotic name Dango-Bangagou in the province of Boulgou. Since March 2010, he has been living in a Naturefriends International house south of Livorno in Italy. Boukary's family still lives in his home village. His wife and three-year-old son Bilal live together with his parents, his siblings and their families in his home village.
Does your family live from farming?
Yes, they work in the fields. Between June and the end of November is the rainy season. In the last few years, the rains have become less and less and often endangered our harvest. I send money to my family to support them.
At home we grow maize, millet, beans, rice, fonio millet (one of the oldest and most nutritious cereals in the world), peanuts and okra. In terms of fruits, we harvest mangoes, guavas, néré, neem and the nuts of the shea tree.
Each family has two or three cattle, goats, sheep and chickens.
Will you share some insights from your past with me?
As a child, I contributed to my family's income as a shoe polisher in the capital Ouagadougou, over 100 km away. When they could no longer support my studies, I decided to leave Burkina Faso. First I went to Ghana, then to the Ivory Coast, then to Benin and Niger, before I dared to go to Libya. I wished so much that my parents could live in a brick house instead of a simple mud hut.
After three years, I had the intention to return, I had already reserved a seat on a plane, when, completely unexpectedly and surprisingly, I was offered a passage on a small boat to Europe. I took the chance and left.
Currently I work in agriculture and I visit my family every two years. I communicate with my loved ones regularly via WhatsApp. The pain of separation from my family and from my childhood friends is pulling enormously on my strength.
How can I imagine your village and the life there?
I am a Muslim. Our mosque is in the middle of the village. At the "village square" the inhabitants meet to have breakfast and to buy fruits.
Two wells were dug and trees planted as part of a project by the Naturefriends International. The mud huts are disappearing, and brick houses are gradually taking their place.
The individual family groups live together in a kind of "mini village". Walls surround an inner courtyard where each family has its own housing unit. Around 1,000 people live together in my village this way.
Slopes connect the individual houses with each other. The only infrastructure in the village is a petrol station.
If the harvest is good, we celebrate a feast in front of the house of the "village chief".
As Muslims, we celebrate the end of Ramadan and the Islamic Feast of Sacrifice. We call the Feast of Sacrifice Tabaski or Sheep Feast. I look forward to this festival especially every year.
On feast days, we eat my favourite dish, chicken. In everyday life, we eat Tô, a neutral millet porridge that gets its flavour from dipping sauces in it.
When a child is born, we buy an aries, sacks of rice and kola nuts (these must not be missing as a symbol at any festival). The Imam gives the blessing to the child and afterwards family, friends and neighbours celebrate with a richly laid table. In case of death, a ceremony takes place on the seventh day after death. On the 43rd day for men and the 44th day for women, this ceremony is repeated. Birthdays are secondary in my family and are not celebrated.
What changes have you seen in your region?
Before we built the two wells (the first one is 70 metres deep, the second 45 metres), women and children had to walk almost two kilometres every day to get water. The village school was the only place with a well. My parents' generation, my generation and my son's generation are different. My parents, for example, had a harder life but were more contented. At that time, money was not essential for living. In comparison, today's life is all about money. For example, it used to be normal to walk, now people ride a moped, they need money for petrol. To make a phone call, we need a SIM card and a mobile phone. In the past, letters or tapes were simply given to family friends who were travelling around the country. It would never have occurred to them to ask for money.
What is your son's favourite game?
At the moment, Bilal loves to play with a tin can. The tin has a hole through which a wire runs and is connected to a stick. He runs with the stick pushing the can in front of him and gets the wonderful feeling of driving a little car.
What value does music have for you?
Music makes me forget my worries and it makes me feel good. I like to listen to reggae, zouk, soukous. I'll share a little sample of a song I like to listen to with you here.
Discovering the diversity of people - a snapshot with George
George (30) is a journalist with heart and soul. He was born in Tarime. This district is in the north of the Serengeti and is on the border to Kenya. He lives with his wife in a small house a few kilometres outside Mwanza, the second largest city in Tanzania on the southern shore of Lake Victoria. His siblings still live in Tarime, his parents unfortunately passed away a few years ago.
Did you always want to be a journalist?
Yes, ever since I went to secondary school. I am very happy that my dream has come true. I love my work because it allows me to be a part of change in our society. I feel like I am making a difference in my community. Through my journalistic work and my blog, my readers get news, I educate, create awareness e.g. for education.
It makes me happy and satisfied when I conscientiously fulfil my responsibility towards people and achieve the goals I have set.
What change in society would you like to see most?
That female genital mutilation finally belongs to the past. I personally come from the Watimbaru clan, a Kurya tribe. In the Kurya and Wakurya tribes, more than 12 clans still practise female genital mutilation (and male circumcision). A practice that brings no benefits but only suffering to an estimated 125 to 200 million girls and women worldwide.
At what age is a girl usually circumcised?
Over 10 years ago, girls were circumcised at 14. A ritual to show that the young woman is ready for marriage. Entering into marriage at such a young age usually means loss of education for the women.
After the government and organizations launched campaigns against genital mutilation, this may have led to children under the age of 10 being circumcised, mostly in secret.
It was also not an unusual case of a non-circumcised woman being circumcised after a childbirth.
Do you know how this tradition came about?
The tradition is already old. When our male ancestors returned home from wars, their wives were more often pregnant or cradling a baby in their arms. They believed that genital mutilation was a safe preventive measure to curb a woman's desire. A notion that is outdated and should no longer have a place in our educated society.
Why do you think it is so difficult to break away from this ritual?
It is difficult to break away from a tradition that has become deeply embedded in the consciousness of us and is passed down from generation to generation. People have an urge to fulfil their traditions. They believe that only with circumcision a woman is a "pure" and real woman. It is also seen as part of the dowry to the future husband.
According to an article by Terre des Femmes, type III (infibulation) of female genital mutilation (FGM) is practised most frequently (97%). This involves partial or total removal of the labia minora and the external lips, with or without removal of the clitoris. Among the remaining 3% are all other types (I, II and IV). Find a description of each type here.
George, what do you do to switch off?
I love watching movies, but also documentaries or football. I also like to play football myself. I'm very open to new things, I'm inquisitive and I love to learn.
I like to travel and explore places I have never been to before.
What does "the diversity of people" mean in Kiswahili?
Gundua utofauti na watu wake
Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Ellyanne
Ellyanne (11) was born in London and moved to Kenya with her family when she was 9 months old. The kindergarten she attended wanted to introduce well-known heroes and heroines such as Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi, Florence Nightingale, Mother Teresa, Uhuru Kenyatta and Wangari Maathai to the children as part of a school term project.
Ellyanne was so impressed by Wangari Maathai that her greatest wish was to imitate her and start planting trees herself. Ellyanne has set herself the ambitious goal of planting over one trillion trees! In her country and perhaps worldwide, she is the youngest ambassador for climate change.
Why exactly did Wangari Maathai inspire you and not Mahatma Gandhi?
Like my idol, I also love trees. I like to climb them, read, paint, or play under the shade of trees.
Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan professor, scientist, politician, and deputy minister for environmental protection. She founded the Green Belt Movement reforestation programme in 1977.
After persuading my mother to plant a tree of my own in the garden, I wanted to plant more trees. So, one tree became ten trees, and ten trees became a hundred trees. Together with different schools, we have planted over 1,3 Million trees in Kenya, Uganda and other countries. I plan to go to Ethiopia, Djibouti, Chad and others in the Sahel Desert.
Please tell me more about the project you started.
I founded the project "Children With Nature" together with other children and young people. Fortunately, I didn't take the doubts that adults had against the project too much to heart. Other people believed in us and supported us so that we could turn our vision into reality.
We visit schools, spread knowledge and awareness about environmentally friendly behaviour and climate change.
The following SDG's (Sustainable development Goals) are particularly important to us: SDG 13: Climate action, SDG 14: Life under water, SDG 15: Life on land but also the Africa Union's Agenda 2063 and the Kenya Vision 2030.
Who taught you about climate change and the environment?
I taught myself a lot by reading and constantly asking questions. Later, scientist Dr. Jane Njuguna from the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) taught me the science of trees. Where to plant them, which species to plant, when to plant. She calls it “species site matching”
Ellyanne, what is your biggest dream?
To study environment law & policy & eventually become an Environment Judge. To support environment conservation at high leadership level and prosecute those who destroy nature.
Can you give us an insight into your daily life?
I am growing up as an only child and have 7 dogs as pets. Since we recently moved, my dogs still live in a different place than I am. I love to draw pictures, I love horses, zebras and especially leopards because they love to climb trees like I do, and I think their spotted fur is beautiful.
Growing up in a country like Kenya, I have already seen many animals in the wild. I was impressed by the herds of zebras, antelopes, buffalos, wildebeests and also carnivores like hyenas, cheetahs, lions, and crocodiles. I was amazed by the size of the elephants and river and lake hippos.
Together with friends I like to play hide and seek or stuck in the mud, I like walking in the park and in the forests, I look forward most to my birthday in July, Christmas, and Easter.
My favourite subjects at school are mathematics, science, drawing and Swahili our local language.
Discover the diversity of people – a snapshot with Hetta
Hetta (25), from the ‡Khomani San people, grew up with her grandparents in a small town in the Kalahari. Her mother worked far away in Cape Town and her father in Johannesburg. In 2019, she took an apprenticeship at the !Khwa ttu San Culture and Education Centre near Yzerfontein, north of Cape Town. She has been employed in housekeeping since March 2020. The name !Khwa ttu means waterhole in the Xam language. The non-profit business, which has 850 hectares of land, is built on three fundamental pillars:
1) As a tourism supplier with overnight accommodation and a restaurant.
2) As a training centre for young San people
3) Promoting sustainable nature projects, mediating and learning about the San culture.
How did you hear about the training?
From my aunt. To be honest, I didn't know much about what expected me in !Kwa ttu. Together with nine other young adults from South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, I completed a training in tourism at the IIKabbo Academy from September 2019 to February 2020.
All my colleagues went back home afterwards, I stayed.
What fascinated you the most during the training?
Growing up in a small town, I knew almost nothing about our culture. Due to a school trip in 2014, I visited traditional San people for the first time. I discovered the roots of my ancestors, step by step during my training. The way of life fascinated me the most.
The food, the medicine (many hundreds of eatable and usable plants are known to the San), the clothes, the huts, the hunting weapons, everything San people need for survival they get from nature. Money does not play a major role among traditionally living San people. For example, jewellery is made from ostrich eggs, clothes from animals like a springbok or an antelope.
When was the last time you visited your family?
We had closed in 2020 for several months because of Covid. During that time, I visited my family.
The journey was very long. I left at 7 pm by public bus and 12 hours later I was in the city of Upington. From there I took a taxi for another three hours to my family on the Namibian border.
I am the first-born child in our family. Three sisters live with my mother and one sister lives with my father. Unfortunately, my brother passed away when he was seven years old.
Please, describe me a typical day.
The alarm clock rings at 5:30 and I start work at 7:00. Together with two other colleagues I make sure that the reception area and the offices are clean. After the guests have checked out, we prepare the rooms for our new visitors. We are responsible for our two guest houses, our bush house, four other bush lodges and our five bush tents.
The bed linen needs to be washed and ironed before I finish work at 16:00.
One week I work six days, the next week five days and so on.
I live in !Kwa ttu and have a single room with bathroom/WC and a kitchenette.
On Mondays and Fridays, we go to town in a company vehicle to do our shopping and buy food for cooking.
What makes you happy?
I am proud to have found a good job for me. The team I work with encourages me, we learn from each other and with each other. I enjoy reading and listening to music, preferably South African gospel music, for example by Jonathan Rubain, or love songs.
What is worrying you?
Sometimes I feel lonely. In this case the best thing is to watch TV and take my mind off things, or to call my parents or grandparents. I communicate with my sisters via WhatsApp.
The violence in our country makes me very sad. Women have a right to live without fear of being assaulted or raped. Children should be able to feel safe and secure in their neighbourhood.
Unfortunately, many young people drop out of school for various reasons. Without work, they don´t have any perspectives or dreams for the future, they hang around in the streets, meet the wrong people and end up on the wrong track. Afterwards, many of them regret their actions and commit suicide. People need to feel needed and valued!
Protected areas like Etosha, Okovango, Kalahari are known to many travellers. Here, the mistake of establishing top-down tourism without taking into consideration the needs of the indigenous people was repeated. The indigenous people were chased away, and a hunting ban deprived them of their autarkic livelihood. Without a new perspective or compensation, the people became impoverished and rootless. They worked on the surrounding farms, had to read tracks for the military or show themselves off as tourist attractions under often doubtful conditions.
!Kwa ttu's training program, like the one Hetta completed, makes an important contribution to young San people to recover their dignity, culture and social community.
The aim of the training is to give young San people self-determined prospects for the future. No matter whether they want to study afterwards, apply for jobs in other companies or return to their homeland to start their own tourism and culture-related businesses.
Currently, there are an estimated 100,000 to 130,000 San living in Southern Africa. They speak about 12 different languages. Common to all San languages, also called Khoisan languages, are clicking and snapping sounds.
Have you noticed the special characters "I, ‡, !, II" at the beginning of a word? These give information about the clicking sounds with which the individual words are pronounced.
Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Joe
Joe (42) is just married and lives with his wife in a rented house in Makeni, about 120 km northeast of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. The country itself is about 12,000 km2 smaller than Austria with a population of over 7 million people. Joe studied agriculture and forestry at the University of Freetown. With a lot of passion and idealism, he passed his know-how on to farmers for the past 10 years to improve their living conditions.
This knowledge is urgently needed after the civil war (March 1991 - January 2002) or the Ebola crisis (March 2014-March 2016).
What have been your biggest successes and challenges?
It was very difficult to get support. I wanted to find a way for farmers to be economically independent, to have enough to eat and to ensure that their actions do not have a negative impact on the environment. I spent nights worrying about how to promote my project so that as many people as possible would be interested and enthusiastic about it. It was a long process with obstacles and setbacks. Therefore, it is great to see that people soon had a successful experience. They realized that sustainable cultivation is a win-win on all levels and that the cultivation of cashews is lucrative. So far, we have cultivated about 50 ha of wasteland and planted 10,000 trees.
Together with Christoph Schaaf and his company Climate Nuts, we have found a partner who has established a direct distribution of our cashews to Europe.
What do you mean with sustainable cashew cultivation?
We grow cashews in agroforestry systems or as permaculture together with rice and other crops. Cashew trees produce fruits after only a few years and grow to a height of more than 10 meters. After harvesting, the kernels are separated from the fruit pulp, dried, roasted and cracked. You must know; the shell contains a poisonous oil. All these processes happen in the villages themselves and create additional jobs.
Besides cashews, rice and cereals, vegetables like sweet potatoes, okra or manioc are grown, or fruits like mangoes, lemons, or plums.
How many people benefit from the cashew project?
Eight villages are involved in the project so far. Each village employs between 40 and 60 people in a wide range of activities. The individual communities are scattered within a radius of 60 to 90 km from Makeni.
What do you especially appreciate about your home country?
I love our nature, the landscape with its mountains and lakes. I appreciate sitting together in a comfortable atmosphere, sharing ideas, eating together. I like the way we interact with each other and our culture. When I visit the individual villages, we usually sit under a shady tree, exchange ideas, and talk for hours about agriculture, the development of the village, but also about the environment and climate change, which unfortunately does not stop in Sierra Leone.
16 ethnic groups enrich my country, and we live together peacefully. It is not unusual, for example, for a Temne man to marry a Mende woman or a woman from another ethnic group.
Joe, you are just married, would you like to tell us about your wedding?
Yes, I would love to. I got married to my wife on the 4th of April. We married according to the rituals of the Seventh day Adventist church. My wife wore a beautiful white wedding dress, and I wore a white "Bryan" (a pair of trousers and a tunica) with orange embroidery. It was a beautiful, colorful day where we celebrated with friends and relatives. Unfortunately, my parents already passed away and could not celebrate with me this special day.
What makes you happy, what makes you sad and what is your wish for the future?
My lovely wife makes me to a very happy man every day. Also, I am happy when I make a difference in our society and see a change, contributing to the common well-being and seeing visible progress as a result. It satisfies me when farmers harvest the fruits of their hard work, spreading good vibes.
It is no secret that Sierra Leone is a country with economic difficulties and high poverty. It makes me sad that people who need help cannot afford it, or that children do not have the opportunity to attend school because of school fees.
I would like to see fair trade between Europe and Africa so that local producers with their local products can compete economically with goods imported from the EU.
According to the Human Development Index, Sierra Leone ranks 182nd out of 189 countries (2020).
Another chapter in the history of Sierra Leone was the slave trade that started in 1562 on the West African coast. On the islands off Sierra Leone, especially on Bunce and Sherbro, the English established bases for the slave trade. A national hero is Sengbe Pieh. He started a rebellion on the ship "Amistad" in which all except two crew members died. Watch a short documentary on YouTube here.
Freetown, or the "free city" was founded by returned slaves after the abolition of slavery.