All posts by jannychang1

Carl Jung – Psychology

Carl Jung

carljung

In my previous posts, I wrote about the gravity of recurring negative thoughts. For Freud, the purpose of therapy is to bring about the cause of these recurrences, usually stemming from a crucial and often traumatic event in childhood, to the fore. Since I’ve been reading Carl Jung, who is probably one of my favorite authors, it’s intriguing to observe where he and Freud diverge. He writes in Modern Man in Search of a Soul that these recurrences of negative thinking, which he terms “neuroses” may be traced to something else. They may actually serve a useful purpose. Thus, the question we must ask is not “Why” or “What are the origins” of the neuroses as they are manifested in dreams, but rather, “What function does it serve” (6)? It may be that we can trace the neuroses to the future, a foreboding of something about to transpire or anticipation of a glorious future. Jung goes on to stress the importance of paying attention to our neuroses, especially as they evidence themselves in our dreams, for we spend almost half our lives in more or less unconscious states (11).

 

The primary purpose of psychoanalysis, then, as it differs from meditation or contemplation, is to look for what has been repressed or forgotten (35). Only through the act of confession, which prompts the release of suppressed emotions, can one become truly liberated from mental torments. Yet there are marked contrasts in how people cope with psychotherapy. The first marker, which Jung calls indicum is age. Apparently, younger people tend to be easier to handle, simply because the young neurotic is usually faced with the hesitation to confront the world, which is relatively more conducive to resolving than the older neurotic, who still clings to the dying past and youthful years (58).

 

Other indices the psychic consitution consists of include introversion/extroversion, spiritualism/materialism, reflective/non-reflective, and the remainder of the classic Carl Jung personality types (INFP, INTJ, etc.) He concludes that although these systems of comparison are too abstract to encompass everything about a person and certainly possess limitations, they are nonetheless indispensable because they create order in a new field (psychology) that at the time this book was written, was struggling with chaos. These were fascinating chapters, predictable, but no less intriguing; however, where Jung really shines with brilliance is in the subsequent chapter “The Stages of Life” (95).

 

What are the psychic journeys that correspond with various stages of life? Statistics show a rise in mental depression among men at around forty years of age. In women, these neurotic tendencies occur earlier, between thirty-five and forty. These tendencies occur as a steady and slow change in a person’s character. Certain beliefs in a person that was experienced in childhood may harden and become cemented around the age of fifty, even to the point of “fanaticism” (105). Jung suggests that the hardening of these beliefs may be a result of trying to overcompensate for feelings of insecurity that these beliefs are somehow threatened.

 

Jung writes that all our neuroticisms of childhood are further prolonged due to the appearance of the person’s parents. I can vouch for this, especially in Asian families, when it seems even a thirty year old’s inner child emerges when placed in family situations, mine included. It is for this very reason that one’s parents’ death has the effect of speeding up one’s mental life. In middle life, one is constantly looking behind him and this seems to instigate more neurotic tendencies. Jung compares the complexity of changes in the psyche to the rising and setting of the sun. The morning, when the sun shines brightly upon the world, in all its gloriousness, is akin to childhood and youth. When the descent begins, one starts aging, and this signifies the reversal of all that one believed to be true. “The sun falls into contradiction with itself. It is as though it should draw in its rays, instead of emitting them” (107). Interestingly enough, it seems at this stage of life, men and women’s corresponding masculine and feminine components begin to reverse. So men start to recognize their tenderness while women, their mental acuity. (Now, here I acknowledge that Jung was operating in a different time period and as Freud was his predecessor, may have bore some sexist assumptions about sex and gender roles and characteristics).

 

But why is aging so difficult for people, Jung persists? We know the purpose of youth. But descending into the afternoon carries with it much more confusion. Well, part of it, he concedes is the plain Western disregard for old people. In certain tribes and cultures, old people are revered and cherished. By contrast, in the US they must compete with the young. They gradually become obsolete in society.

 

Then Jung hits upon a truth that we can analyze regarding our search for bliss. He seems to suggest that the approach of old age is more depressing for those who had not lived their lives to the fullest when they were young. He asserts “if these people had filled up the beaker of life earlier and emptied it to the lees, they would feel quite differently about everything now; had they kept nothing back, all that wanted to catch fire would have been consumed, and the quiet of old age would be very welcome to them” (110). Jung’s secret gem is not entirely novel. How many times have we heard the elderly repeat, “Embrace your youth for it will go as quickly as a candle inflamed.” Now, this is quite an interesting insight, for it is hard to discern whether the person who lives joyfully in his youth will also live joyfully in old age, simply because it is in his disposition and aim to do so. Perhaps this person was joyful to begin with. Or it could very well be that if we have filled our cup of youth to it fullest until it brims with a variety of experiences, we would carry less regret in old age and therefore live happier lives.

 

Those who were unsatisfied with their youths will be even more distressed in old age, clinging to a youth that never was and inevitably wanes. Very few, Jung writes, are artists in life. Being an artist in life is living it to the fullest. Why shouldn’t all of us try to be engaged in the art of life and consequently succeed in “draining the whole cup with grace?” For Jung, part of being an artist in life is delving into the human psyche and acquiring wisdom. Wisdom is a return to the symbols that were already embedded in our psyche since time immemorial. There’s a level of the mind at work, universally among all of us, since the beginning of time. In addition to the intellect, which constitutes one level of thinking, there’s also symbols that rest in our unconscious that are the source of all our conscious thoughts. Thus, we spend the first and last stages of our lives immersed in unconsciousness and self-involvement.

 

As a child and elderly person, we are submerged in unconscious psychic happenings, posing problem for others as we are less reliant on ourselves. The middle two stages of life involve gaining consciousness, if and when we learn to be artists in life and consequently align our thinking with the primordial images of the unconscious (113). Jung seems to imply towards the end of this chapter that these primordial concerns entail spirituality, awareness of death, belief in life after death, and so forth – occupations that have been ingrained in humans since the earliest times. It’s what unites all of us together, the similarities we share as living and breathing beings. If we come to embrace them in the middle stages of life, then we will live our lives to the fullest and age gracefully and blissfully.

 

**Note: Jung can be criticized on account of his overly functionalist approach to evaluating people’s beliefs. For example, he assesses the significance of believe in the afterlife based on its consonance with “psychic hygiene.” In other words, if it’s good for your mind, then it’s a good belief system to have. However, this presupposes that people have an absolute choice in what they believe in, when in fact, their belief system may be attributed to the conditioning in their upbringing and elides other modes of experiences that compel people to believe in certain things, while not in others, that have little or nothing to do with its functionality. Thus, the oft-stated, ‘it just spoke to me,’ is a case in point. Or ‘I had an out of the body experience’ that convinced me of X belief as opposed to the purpose it serves the human psyche. Finally, we can question this assumption on the philosophical grounds that a belief system may be ‘good’ for someone regardless of whether it serves the psychic hygiene. Can certain principles embody intrinsic value without being entirely contingent on the outcome of espousing the belief? After all, to assert that a principle must have value based only on the outcome it produces is to negate its possible value in and of itself.

Shelley’s Story (Zambia)

Sherry’s Life History

With a bright smile and hearty laugh, Sherry has been dubbed by her nephews and nieces as the Zambian Oprah Winfrey. She has endured and overcome many hardships in life, like many young Zambians. She continually texts her friends and brother heartfelt, inspirational messages about not giving up hope. She is currently going to school in hotel and tourism and hopes to own her own lodge and restaurant one day. This is her life story – a testament to the scintillating spirit of the people of Zambia.

Sherry was born in Solwezi to one of five children. Together with mother and father, they lived there for six years. One day her younger sister and mother went for a stroll and never came back, as they were struck by lightning and died. There were four of the siblings left. Sherry was the youngest. One brother was three years older, another brother was five years older and her sister was seven years older. Her father was a businessman who frequently moved around. It was decided by her father and relatives that the children should move. Sherry and her older brother went to the Copperbelt to live with her uncle (brother to her father) while her older sister and other older brother moved to Lusaka. Sherry often heard from her father and knew he was busy working to support the family. Four years after her mother and younger sister died, her father died as well. Sherry was ten years old when she became an orphan.

Life with her uncle in the Copperbelt was full of surprises. Sherry has fond memories of a full house, sometimes more than 20 people living under the same roof. Attending primary school in Chikoliya in Muferlia, Sherry remembers having fun and playing with other children in the neighborhood flat. Although she appreciated her uncle’s hospitality, Sherry said, “Life has never been good when you stay with other people. You appreciate the shelter and the food but you are restricted. It does not feel good.” They lived therefor seven years. This is where Sherry already fluent in her first language, Lovale, learned to master the Bemba language.

When she was thirteen, her uncle retired and it was decided, again, that she and her brother would move. This time, she went to the village in Zambezi to live with her grandmother (her mother’s mother). A sweet woman, Sherry recalls, her grandmother was the one who taught her how to make nshima, the main staple food in Zambia, and to pluck the feathers of a chicken. Her grandmother, who looked just like her mother, was a fountain of wisdom and regularly took Sherry into the fields to teach her how to farm. To this day, Sherry attributes her cooking and gardening skills to her grandmother. Sherry entered grade seven in school and her grandmother supported her until she became ill. Sherry had to stop school for four years because there was no money. During this time, she sat at home with her brother. It was then decided once again that they would move, so they left their grandmother sick and headed to Solwezi again.

Her uncle (her father’s older brother) came to pick them up and dropped them off in Solwezi. They went to live with her older sister, who had at this point had gotten married and settled in Solwezi. The siblings was reunited but only for a short time. No one had a job and money was tight. They survived by getting help from relatives. Soon after the move, Sherry’s older brother left to work in Angola and Sherry left as well and went to live with her cousin (the eldest daughter of her father’s brother) in the Copperbelt. She had not heard from her brother in Angola for about four or five years until she learned he had died. Life continued and Sherry started grade eight in Kitwe in the Copperbelt. She lived there for three years until it was decided yet again that she would move to Lusaka and stay with the her other cousin (the middle daughter of her father’s brother). She entered grade ten at Lusaka Girls Basic School. She finished high school and has since re-entered school to complete her degree in hotel and tourism.

When asked about her future goals, Sherry responds that she would like to get married and have a family. Most importantly, she wants to help send her nephews (the sons of her deceased older sister) to school. She was imbued with this sense of care and concern while living in the village in Zambezi. She thinks that village life is more community-oriented and people help each other out, unlike in the city, where it seems people are more disconnected from each other. Sherry also has sad memories, as she recalls many of her old classmates from Solwezi are deceased. She recognizes the hardships many young Zambians have to encounter and she wants them to know together, they can keep the hope alive.

My Tribute to Professor George Clement Bond, my Beloved Doctoral Adviser

My doctoral adviser spent over five years living in Muyombe. I visited his village in 2010 during preliminary fieldwork in Zambia. He is beloved and respected there. Nearly everyone I spoke to remembered him fondly. I cannot help but respect and admire his anthropological work and the relationships he built in the process. I have written a tribute to my beloved doctoral adviser below.


This is where we stayed most of the time, with the nephew of the Chief of Muyombe. He was a dear friend of Professor Bond.


This is where my professor stayed when he last visited in 2002. This house is adjacent to the health clinic.


The Chinese government funded the building of a new secondary high school. When my professor lived in the village, there was no high school.One had to travel four days to the Copperbelt to attend high school, as some of the villagers did.


The Vinkaka ceremony, which was held every year and intended to have the elders guide the youth, was on Saturday from morning until evening. The entire village gathered to watch the performances. 

A view of Muyombe on our last day, as we prepared to depart. It was a brief visit, but intense and full of rich experiences.

My Tribute to Professor George Clement Bond

My first encounter with Professor George Clement Bond was in his seminar on race and labor relations at Teachers College, Columbia University. From the beginning, he had a commanding presence, from his razor-sharp intellect and unparalleled command of vocabulary to his consistent method of Socratic questioning. It was clear that he was intellectually curious about our thoughts and ideas, and our initial answers proved to be for the most part, inadequate, as he probed further and asked, “Yes, but why?” or pointed to a different angle to elicit a deeper analysis of our views. He never placed himself on a pedestal or superior to his students; he genuinely wanted to understand our views and contextualize our perspectives in relation to our experiences, where we came from, and in relation to our kin and family members.


Professor Bond believed that we are not isolated individuals, pulling ourselves by our own bootstraps, but people who were situated within a family, a kin order, friends and communities. That was how he saw himself and framed his own past and present — always in relation to his remarkable family, including his grandfather, who was a freed slave educated at Oberlin College; his father, who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in 1931, was a respected diplomat and was appointed head of the USAID education in Africa and founded the University of Liberia; his mother, who so believed in the power of education that she pursued a doctorate and used her intellectual prowess to meticulously examine her children’s school assignments; his brother, the prominent architect whose name lives on at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, like George Bond, harbored the belief that people’s needs come first and he designed several buildings in Ghana with this value in mind; and finally, his sister, who was also an academic and professor of French history at the City University of New York. His family was devoted to the ethos of serving humanity.


Professor Bond spoke fondly of his childhood and how he learned from observing his father in leadership positions. In a similar vein, he sought to instill intellectual curiosity in his own children by involving them in his research and teaching and inculcating in them a dedication to fulfilling social justice goals of creating a more equitable world. He often reminded me that his grandfather was a slave and he grew up in a time when he was prevented from participating in certain projects or was challenged just because of his race. He also liked to remind me that he grew up in a household where they regularly hosted scholars, activists and people from different walks of life and backgrounds, who came together to debate and recommend solutions to societal problems. Social justice was the debt he sought to pay forward and he encouraged those values in his students by exemplifying them.


One way he paid it forward was by his generosity towards his students like myself. When I went to Zambia for preliminary fieldwork, Professor Bond sent me with abundant support, including his contacts, his home phone number, materials he had accumulated over the years from his extensive research in Zambia, language assistance, as he was proficient in Bantu languages and had a keen memory for linguistics, and stipends. He made sure that his contacts took good care of me when I arrived in Zambia. He consistently emailed me to make sure that I was doing well. I had the fortunate chance of visiting his village, the village where he liked to joke, was his “home” and where he “grew up.”


For many anthropologists, fieldwork is a milestone, a rite of passage, and one never forgets the village or place where all of this takes place. For Professor Bond, it extended beyond a rite of passage, for he routinely returned to his village, Muyombe, even 30 years after he completed his fieldwork. He was passionate about the well-being of the people he studied; this was clearly evidenced by his return during a famine, when he said, “during that time, people were starving to death,” and he was determined to collect data that he hoped would help prevent future famines.


He was as detail-oriented and methodical as he was passionate. I was in awe when he showed me his detailed maps of the village, the lineage maps he drew of every single person he talked to, and his extensive surveys, which included enormous amounts of data he was going to put into his next book. When I visited Muyombe, the Chief praised Professor Bond. Everyone I encountered spoke fondly of him — not one bad or even neutral assertion was made. He was regarded as someone willing to learn from others. The villagers remembered Professor Bond as the person who became one of them. He learned the Tumbuka language fluently and immersed himself as one of the Tumbuka people. Outside the village, his closest friends now living in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, praised him for his humility. They knew that he was so accomplished and brilliant, but he never wore it as a badge. As they explained to me, Professor Bond was a good listener, a truly humble man, who was more interested in others than his own trailblazing achievements. At the University of Zambia research center, Zambian scholars also spoke of Professor Bond fondly and recounted the times when he felt such urgency to go back to the village that he went without waiting for the others and slept on the side of the road when he needed to. When I say he was an extraordinary person, I mean it, for he had that rare combination of intelligence, fearlessness, kindness, and tremendous resilience.


Visiting his village was a defining moment for me. I already knew that I was in the presence of an intellectual giant, which I recognized from the moment I met Professor Bond in our first seminar. After the visit, I recognized that he was also an expert fieldworker, who had gained the deep respect and affection of those he studied and sought to give them a voice. He was also supportive of Zambian and African scholars, whom he thought should be given a prominent voice in “Western” academic circles. These were huge footsteps to follow for Professor Bond had the rare combination of being an innovative academic, shown in his own work in his use of rich data to derive fine-grained theories that were specific and localized to the context, a fieldworker par excellence, evidenced by the glowing regard the people in Muyombe had for him, and a nurturing educator and mentor to his students.


He liked to give credit to his superiors, including Lucy Mair, St. Clair Drake, and Elizabeth Colson, scholars he admired for their intellectual prowess, fortitude and resilience, among others, as well as colleagues, also anthropologists, who would visit him and his wife and they would continue debates and conversations well into the night. I rarely heard him speak of himself as an individual because I think that he viewed himself and others always in relation to others. He attributed his own accomplishments to those who walked before him, and to the individuals and institutions that granted him unique and valuable educational opportunities.


When I heard of his passing, I immediately thought of his contributions to me as a person and to my work. I have started to adopt his perspective in terms of seeing myself as the locus of contributions by others. I am the product of my parents, my sibling, my ancestors and my mentors, including Professor Bond. When I was writing my dissertation, Professor Bond provided guidance and encouragement that I needed. Although it was hard for me to believe, he revealed to me that he also had a hard time during his write-up as well — without doubt a sentiment he expressed to comfort me, but it still meant a lot to me that he cared enough to make me feel better. He went through my draft countless times, first when they were shoddy chapters filled with scratch, and then later, when they started to take shape. He made comments on nearly every single page, demonstrating to me that he was engaged in my work and was heavily invested in my future. In the margins, he questioned some of my ideas, always pushing me to question my own assumptions and challenge generalizations.


He himself defied categorization or generalizations and did not like to be pigeonholed — an African American elite who spent his formative years all over the world, with a Southern influence but was strongly shaped by British culture and education, an anthropologist who studied in the tradition of Malinowski, whose work built on the Rhodes Livingston Institute anthropologists, and was shaped by Marx and Gramsci, and had friends and colleagues that transcended racial, ethnic, and regional boundaries. He eschewed adhering too strongly to any ideology, but rather preferred to pragmatically incorporate ideas and approaches that made sound sense,. Although he had a complex identity and detected ambiguity in situations and people when it mattered, he also had a clear sense of where he came from and his dedication to improve the lives of those less fortunate. That was how he approached my dissertation, as he read through numerous drafts and wanted me to delve further into those moments during my fieldwork when I witnessed injustice. I tended to reflect upon them in my footnotes and he would tell me, “Ms. Chang, move them into the body paragraphs. They are important. They tell me that you, the anthropologist, were there!” He challenged me to challenge generalizations and showcase the details. I recall a turning point I had in his office when he said, “But people can act differently than what they tell you. Tell me, what did you observe? Go back to the notes and diaries. Compare your observations against the conversations and interviews you had.” I was concerned that I did not have enough data, but he assured me that it was there. I just had to go back and scrutinize it. The ethos of serving humanity through social justice ran rampant in Professor Bond’s research, teaching and mentorship of his students and in the way he lived his life.


Professor Bond had a powerful presence as a scholar, anthropologist, educator and mentor. He challenged me to do better because he had high standards for his own work. After all, he was a full-time professor, in addition to heading the Institute of African Studies for many years, and also doing consultancy work for international agencies. He was an academic and practitioner that believed in applying his research to improve the lives of the people he studied.


He was also a magnanimous spirit. I have already spoken of the myriad ways he helped me, including providing stipends while I was abroad, making sure that I was taken care of, and going above and beyond to encourage, mentor and guide me. I could not believe that someone as accomplished as he was, who led such an extraordinary life, would take the time to get to know me and my family, what brought me to Columbia and to graduate school and read all my papers as thoroughly as he did. Yet I was not the only one. I know that he touched the lives of so many students. Upon his passing, we have since formed a support group to help each other grieve for such a generous, giving and brilliant man. We have all concluded that Professor Bond embodies the kind of educator and scholar we would like to be. I am so fortunate to have him as my adviser and to have known him these past few years. I wish I had expressed more to him my immense gratitude for his mentorship. He has shaped me in more ways than he could ever anticipate. He has left an indelible mark in my life and in the lives of so many students. As a beneficiary of Professor Bond’s generosity and kindness, I can only hope that I can pay it forward. I will be forever indebted to the legacy of the exemplary and phenomenal leader that is George Clement Bond.

To learn more about his remarkable life, please visit the following links:



Professor George C Bond: The New William F. Russell Professor in the Foundations of Education

His Incredible Life and Work

Video of Professor George C. Bond

Professor Bond’s Faculty Profile

AFRICA RISING – FUTURE LEADERS: My Experiences as a Journalist by Charity Musa

Charity and I worked together at a Chinese telecommunications multi-national company in Zambia. Not only is she an astute business-person and a rising star in the company, she is also a professional journalist. She juggles it all, and very successfully! It is truly an honor to feature her story here on my blog as well as a sample article she wrote about a farmers’ workshop sponsored by USAID and Agritech Expo below.

My Name is Charity Musa, a Journalist from Zambia. I have been practicing Journalism since 2004. Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to become one because of the journalists I used to see on television. I guess I would say that I was fascinated by them.

During my childhood, I had a powerful fantasy of being a journalist and my role model was the famous Zambian journalist by the name of Maureen Nkandu. Whenever I would see her read the news on television, in my mind I would think, “I want to be like her” — an influential journalist.

I envisioned my future. I guess what they say in the famous Video ‘The Secret “Thoughts become Things” worked for me. “I BECAME.”

Writing stories has always been my passion because it brings me inner joy to my soul, I have always wanted to tell a story and be heard. When I do not write, I feel like something is missing and writing stories energizes me. I get excited like a little kid that is about to be given candy by her beloved aunt.

So let me tell you a little bit about my journalism experience, I worked for Zambia Daily as a part time journalist from 2004 until the beginning of 2008. While working there, I did my freelancing for Sila Press Botswana as well and I appreciated the experience because people in Botswana read stories about my beautiful Country Zambia.

And in 2006, I did a Southern African Media Training Trust (NSJ) journalism exchange programme with Namibia Press Agency (NAMPA) and I did an internship with New Era Newspaper for two weeks. It was a great experience. I got to learn more from the famous Veteran journalist who hailed from Zimbabwe, the Late Farai Munyuki, who was in charge of the programme at NAMPA for the Journalists from different African countries.

After 2008, I freelanced for UKZAMBIANS magazine writing mostly entertainment Stories and wrote a few articles for Huawei People Magazine and The Post Newspaper.

While I was working part time for Zambia Daily, I was trained by the best journalists like the Late Nigel Mulenga, Newton Sibanda, Joy Sata and Steven Phiri, who made sure I wrote stories well.

Nigel made sure I had a first lead story in the paper. I was so excited and honored. Here I am, a part-time journalist working for this National Newspaper. I wrote a lead crime story, which was read by millions of people that day. I like to imagine that more than a million read the article. After all, we can always dream, as we are so great at fulfilling our dreams through our visions.

That day was one of the most exciting days of my Journalism Life! Subsequently, I had the privilege of covering the Late Zambian President Dr Levy Mwanawasa. Can you imagine how I felt, a junior reporter being tasked to cover the President of Zambia? Those assignments were usually given to senior journalists with more Experience, but they trusted me enough with my colleague Barbara Mukuka to do the assignment and we did it with perfection. I think we wrote better articles than any other media outlets that day!

In conclusion, I would say, writing keeps me sane and happy, as it makes my mind more active and creative. I cannot imagine myself living a life without ever penning down a story because am very passionate about it and I believe that I make a difference with this passion.

Finally, below, I have included a sample article that I wrote about a farmers’ workshop held by USAID and Agritech Expo. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me via email: charitymusa@hotmail.com.

AGRITECH EXPO AND USAID TO HOLD EMERGING FARMERS’ WORKSHOP IN ZAMBIA

By Charity Musa

US. Agency for International Development (USAID) says Zambia is becoming a real hub for emerging commercial agriculture in southern region.

Due to its commercial agricultural sector development, Agritech Expo in conjunction with USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub is holding an agriculture Expo in Zambia.

USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub Director of Agriculture Robert Turner said in a statement that the two- day free technical workshop programme will take place at GART research centre in Chisamba, Zambia from 4th to 5th April 2014.

Mr Turner said about 50 emerging commercial farmers from Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique are expected to attend the workshop.

He further said the workshop was designed particularly for small holders and emerging commercial farmers to provide them with the basic information and context to better understand the technologies that would be available and on display during the workshops.

According to Mr Turner, “the Southern Africa Trade Hub is part of the US government’s Feed the Future Strategy, and our focus is both on the competitiveness of regional agriculture and on food security. As part of Feed the Future, the US government is focusing support on the following countries under the Trade Hub’s umbrella: Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. In all three of these countries, small holder farmers make up the majority of staple food production, but they all suffer from very low productivity. Our support to the Agritech Expo is part of the Trade Hub’s regional approach to improving productivity among emerging commercial farmers and small holders.”

Mr Turner said it was important for the farmers to attend the workshop for them to adopt new agriculture technology.

“This includes improved seeds, fertilisers and mechanisation, and the Agritech Expo represents a sustainable, commercial mechanism to allow farmers access to these technologies. Because of Zambia’s commercial agricultural sector development, a wide range of companies representing a range of important technologies will be at the show. These technologies and services are needed throughout the region, and we want to support the show to be a regional resource.” He said.

Most of the emerging farmers, from the three countries, that have already signed up for the programme where eager to broaden their knowledge and make contacts at the Agritech Expo in April.

   

China-Africa Knowledge Project Resource Hub

I just received some exciting news about a new project that will benefit researchers and practitioners working on the China-Africa relationship. The China-Africa Knowledge Project was started in June 2013 and includes the China-Africa Knowledge Project Resource Hub, a website that connects scholars across disciplines and regions working on China-African relations. 

The Social Science Research Council states that  “in this initial phase, the CAKP Hub provides information on research centers and institutions working in the China-Africa space, features key researchers and their work, maintains a rolling list of useful online resources, and collects information on upcoming conferences, calls for papers, and other happenings. As host to the Chinese in Africa/Africans in China Research Network, it also widens the reach of existing cross-regional communities. In due course, the hub will offer a database of China-Africa scholars, a moderated digital forum for timely discussion of China-Africa events and findings, and a virtual research forum for graduate students.”

The CAKP will create programs and activities related to the Working Group on China-Africa, the Chinese in Africa/Africans in China Research Network and China, Africa and the UN. The Working Group members consist of a talented group of leading scholars, whose research have greatly informed my own work. 

The project is funded by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, with support from the SSRC’s Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum. 



 

Reflections on being an anthropologist…

It’s almost taboo to broach “what is anthropology” so far into my research as I prepare for some closure on my doctoral project. Seven years later, I should know what makes something “anthropological.”

I start with Jonathan Inda’s introduction in Analytics of the Modern for some guidance.

He writes: “[This book] has two general orientations. One is anthropological. What this means, simply put for now, is three things. First, it means that the essays gathered here treat modernity not in abstract terms but tangibly as an ethnographic object. Their aim, in other words, is not to come up with some grand, general account of modernity but to analyze its concrete manifestations. Second, it means that these essays examine the materialization of the modern not just in the West, as tends to be the case in most disciplines, but worldwide…Finally, to be anthropological in orientation means that at the stake in the analysis of modernity is the value and form of the anthropos or human being (Collier and Ong 2003; Rabinow 2003). Said otherwise, the book is centrally concerned with the modern constitution of the social and biological life of the human.”

When I was studying for an M.A. in sociocultural anthropology, terms and phrases like “ethnographic object” and “modern constitution of the social life” and “concrete manifestations” really confused me because I could not conceive of the opposite. What is a non-ethnographic object or an ethnographic non-object? What does it mean for social life not to be constituted? Besides citing the “right” people and reading different claims to the definition of anthropology, I don’t think I arrived at an understanding of my discipline until fieldwork and post-fieldwork. The defining feature of anthropology, I believe, is fieldwork. 
Bronislaw Malinowski, named the father of fieldwork, was given credit for establishing it as a systematic method for collecting data. For Malinowski, the anthropologist had to have a scientific goal, collect data such as genealogies, choose key informants, analyze the data, participate in activities with the informants while taking extensive notes, and be aware of one’s emotional state during fieldwork (Thomas Weaver SfAA Malinowski Award Papers 2002). When I read and taught Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922), I was perpetually in awe of the details of his observations (some of it veering into gossip territory), his crystal-clear writing and conclusions that challenged assumptions about an economic system like the kula exchange among the Trobriand Islanders that relied on status, symbols and networks beyond the self-interested and rational individual. Malinowski defined anthropology as a science based on the systematic method of participant observation and other ethnographic methods used to shed light on and possibly, solve social problems. He was also a champion of practical anthropology (or applied anthropology) and stressed the intended use of knowledge for practical purposes. I am fortunate to have been trained as an applied anthropologist with the major aim of applying it to social problems and the world at large.


Anthropology’s defining feature is fieldwork — coming into close contact with the people we study. What separates us from other academics is that we must toggle between the introverted, analytical and isolated existence and the thick-skinned, extroverted and adventurous self. Even the shy or reticent anthropologists I’ve encountered have been adept at establishing rapport in the field and actually caring about the people they study. There is an element of empathy and natural curiosity about people. Some anthropologists do fieldwork domestically and others do it abroad. I think it is fair to say that many of us (myself included) were drawn to the discipline because of the lure of fieldwork. I was drawn to anthropology because of an ethnography I read written by an anthropologist/journalist and because I wanted to go back into the field. It’s the field that continues to beckon me. I spent 13 consecutive months in my fieldwork from 2011 to 2012 in addition to three-month spurts in 2007, 2008 and then 2010. Like the great Dr. Elizabeth Colson and my inspiring dissertation committee-members, I would like to spent a lifetime in the field — and with the practical aim put forth by Malinowski and anthropologists interested in addressing social problems.


The aim is a significant one. Many of my fellow anthropologists may be eccentric, a bit macho, and even hard-nosed, but they also tend to have tremendous empathy for others and a sensitivity to suffering, pain and injustice. Most importantly, every anthropologist I have met have a keen interest and curiosity about people; they are some of the most astute observers of human behavior.


That is why our methods have been used by so many other professionals and in the service of advertising/marketing, medicine, development work, social work, and in my research, business and the corporate setting. One can come to a better understanding of a problem or phenomenon by using the anthropological method of becoming an insider, gaining rapport from the people one is studying, and collecting all sorts of interesting and useful data, from what they eat to their responses to certain colors, smells and products to gathering their stories, backgrounds, family trees to observing and participating in their everyday lives. Any suggestions or recommendations made in a report using anthropological methods will have the advantage of having insider knowledge about human behavior. This ensures better decision-making at upper levels and where it matters.


And for my fellow anthropologists and myself, we get to do what we love. It’s fieldwork all over again — with its nascent discoveries, the close-knit relationships formed, the ups and downs of being an insider and outsider at different times, and the glimmer of hope that what we do will be of use and make a difference in people’s lives in some way.


AFRICA RISING – FUTURE LEADERS: My I.T. Aspirations by Thabale Ngulube

My good friend Thabale wanted to introduce himself on my blog. We worked together in 2012 in Kitwe, Zambia, where I was conducting research and working for a Zambian-owned mining construction firm. Thabale is a skilled website programmer and worked for a popular company that assisted us with website design, among other tasks. It truly is an honor to feature his story on my blog.

Thabale Ngulube: I’ve loved Information Technology from a very young age and have always believed it to be the “future”. I first started learning  I.T at ZCAS (Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies) where I did IMIS (Institute for the Management of Information Systems) and worked for almost 4 years mainly doing data management at CHESSORE (Centre for Health, Science and Social Research) and sometime later worked for Talktime Multimedia were I mostly did web page designing and some office administration.
Currently I’m studying BIT (Business Information Technology) and hope to become a software developer so can fully grasp Application Development and I have a few ideas of how I can contribute to the development of my country by mainly streamlining how things are done. One time I helped design a prototype database for storing hospital patient records which basically was computerising the input and storage of data thereby, minimising the paperwork needed for the same task and saving costs in terms of stationery but unfortunately I didn’t get to fully finish it as my work contract was expiring. Now that I’m working with fellow students, I have encountered many inspiring ideas like for example one of my friends wants to do a food management system which could assist his mum run her business more efficiently. He’s thinking of developing a tuck-shop software program to calculate: 
Management of activities mostly involving 
Keeping track of profits 
Inventory checks to ensure the accurate number of items in stock
Knowing the amount of ingredients used in making foodstuffs
Sales for future projection and therefore limit uncertainties on the direction of the business
I was thinking about the tenant – landlord relationship which can be quite rocky at times especially in low cost urban areas especially it comes to paying up and what the exact amount owing is. I thought of building an app which can send monthly reminders to tenants to automatically alert them in good time to make the necessary arrangements to pay up their rents with the stated due amounts and would also allow for mobile-payments if the tenant happens to be away. However, on this side of the world smartphones are out of the cost range of most people who would probably utilise 3% of the phone’s capabilities and therefore see it unnecessary owning one. 
But the same app could still be developed on the already existing cell phone platform. Tenants can be reminded via the SMS facility which a lot of people are familiar with. The challenge is that not everyone is well-educated or literate as in, they are unable to read or write properly. In order to overcome this problem, I’d recommend a voice-messaging approach in a local language which the person can understand. Much like the way how the mobile service provider, MTN for example, currently sends random special offers to their subscribers using this technique by calling the subscriber.
Another situation I hope to address is the agriculture sector when it comes to fertilizer distribution by the government or some farming cooperative. Most of the time when farmers come to get their bags of fertilizer they have to wait many hours or even days when making follow-ups which mostly leads to them sleeping over at depots or other places longer than they have to.
Again I’d propose the SMS-alert app which would select registered farmers in a batch-processing technique so that the number of people coming over is controlled and farmers can make the necessary arrangements. For those that cannot manage to make it on the expected day, they will be carried forward to a free pickup time-slot after the second batch of farmers is dealt with and so on.
The challenge I see here is how these small scale farmers will reach the pickup point because most of them stay in far flung areas where transportation is difficult in terms of distance. As a result most of them may come late only to be told to turn back because they missed their slot. Also, mobile phone network coverage in some of these places is non-existent and these farmers may get their SMS alert when they move to where there’s a signal and by then it may be too late.
This is possibly the area Chinese investment can address in terms of I.T. infrastructure i.e. platforms  and equipment which will enable communications instead of retail businesses which have flooded the market. However, that may not eliminate the problem fully because there’s also the issue of I.T education because most people here feel intimidated by I.T technology when they don’t understand how it works or how they can benefit. There are places offering I.T knowledge but he way how its marketed usually does not take into account the common man who doesn’t live in the posh suburbs.
Another one of my friends’ hope that one day when he’s started his own firm, he’ll give back to his community in the form of Corporate Social Responsibility with the aim of educating and empowering people to reach their full potential. If I.T investment is made a priority, Zambia could be a technological wonder much in the same way South Korea is. Obviously that won’t happen overnight but like everything that has a beginning, things have to start somewhere with the first step.

Inspirational Life Story of a Zambian Entrepreneur

I just re-connected with a Zambian friend, whom I met when I first came to Zambia in 2007. I met him when he was a budding campaign manager for one of the presidential candidates. Now, he is the owner of three businesses, looking to start a new venture in the broadcasting business and is as passionate about his work as ever. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the concept and practice of emotional resiliency. What makes someone resilient, despite the daily challenges they face? How do they re-interpret difficult events in their lives to motivate them to persist and continue to achieve their goals, even when it involves taking paramount risks? In Zambia, I constantly encounter individuals who possess this strength, a testament to their ability to bounce back even in the face of economic and social vicissitudes. Most often, they start with nothing or very little and build an enterprise for themselves. I have captured the life story of one of the most resilient people I have met in Zambia. He has dictated to me his difficult childhood, his political involvement, his belief in entrepreneurship and his life philosophy.

Background

My dad was a agricultural officer also a preacher man, so he volunteered part of his time for God’s work. I was brought up in the church. At the same time, my father moved from [my] province to about 160 km from Lusaka and he settled there without any relatives. He married my mother. We grew up in a village where Dad was helping farmers selling produce. The road networks were bad. We had no vehicles; we used to walk to school barefoot. I remember crossing a stream and we had to cut a tree so we could create a bridge to walk to school everyday. My father repeatedly lost jobs here and there. Where we lived, there was a marketing company. My father was marketing grain on behalf of the government and he later lost his job at one point and that company changed into a new cooperative. He joined the cooperative movement and that closed down, so he changed and went to a different company. He was retrenched and this is the sad part of my life.

My father was retrenched when I passed from grade 9 to grade 10 in another district far away from our home. My father suffered meningitis and he lost his memory and he lost his speech and he couldn’t talk. He was admitted to the hospital for a long long time. One time my brother was taking care of him, and I remember he jumped from the top floor and he hurt himself on the spinal cord. I continued with my schooling. It was a difficult time that when we closed schools, I would not get any transport money so I had to go on the road to hike from truckers or I would jump on the train TAZARA to get transport. By that time, my dad had died. My mother was a housewife. I had challenges to go to school so I had to cross the border to Tanzania to buy plastics to come and sell here to raise money to go back to school. It was difficult to continue. I couldn’t concentrate properly in school. I had to try and ask to put with family to continue with school. I dropped out for some time, but then I continued. I was associated with NGOs and the Young Farmers club and this enabled me to further my education out the country.

Political Activities

Because of my troubled background, I didn’t like the suffering I went through and what I saw in my siblings and other people who were equally underprivileged. I thought there was a way to fight this. This inspired me to join the NGO sector, the civil society. But I saw there was limited contribution one would make from NGO sector and I needed to jump in mainstream politics to change the status quo. I started my political career while at school and I worked closely with UNIP and I learned how to organize at the local level and participate and critique policies which I can help to fine-tune and deliver the interests of the masses.

When I graduated grade 12, I went to university and decided to stop. I had a challenging time. So I started an organization called Lusaka School-Leavers Self-Help association. With that, I always believed that when people leave school, most who are underprivileged, that’s where the breakdown of life begins. To the contrary, I thought we should keep these people and bring this organization to the Lusaka City Council. I thought we shouldn’t sit at home doing nothing; let’s go clean our cities. In order to keep ourselves active, we participated in the Keep Lusaka Clean Campaign and I remember going to the radio to speak about that campaign. This informs you that I never believe in self-pity. Self-help means that you get up and do something. Don’t let your life pass you by.

I later continued my civic and political involvements by joining UPND when we were just starting in 1998. I was involved with the youths. I thought they should speak out against joblessness by participating in the electoral process to cast their vote where they think their hopes and aspirations lie. I was already politically active. From there, my political career just continued.

Motivational Philosophy

My entrepreneurship spirit comes from always want to see a better situation. I’ve always liked to innovate. I don’t like to do what someone is already doing. What excites me is doing something new and changing lives with it.

I’m an enemy of self-pity. I don’t like people who pity themselves. I always feel that a human being shouldn’t say I can’t do anything. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I feel that I must do something unique to change lives and I hope that I can remembered as someone and kept on trying until my last breath on earth.

You see, I grew up in a family where our firstborn was not that successful. And I didn’t like that the this person I looked up to as his sibling. after my dad has passed on, was not doing so much. I felt like somebody must fight for this family as well. The way to fight is knowledge, secure education. And not education in the literal sense. I see the entire world as the largest classroom ever on earth. This is where you learn about life and I believe in the principle that South Africans say umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, a human being is only a human being when he cares about others. So really, I have a socialist approach to issues because I find that very close to my African setup. And so right now, at my home, I take everybody who wants to come and visit me. I take care of my nephews. The extended family to me is not a burden. I can give them shelter, food and take them to school, and with education, they can open their own horizons. One day, they can be successful, more than myself. I believe the best is yet to come. No matter what I succeed myself, I have not arrived at the best. The best is yet to come.

On Resiliency and Entrepreneurship

I grew up in the village. My grandma lived in game management area and we grew up in wildlife arrangement where lions, hyenas, elephants were story of the day. By that, I had a lot of lessons from my grandma who said, when you are walking along the path, you meet a lion, don’t show it you’re scared because it can eat you. You must show the lion you’re not scared of it. That’s teaching on self-esteem.

I was also taught that when you go to the river and a crocodile attacks you, if you can find the tail of the crocodile and lift it above the water, you can drag the crocodile to the surface to the banks of the river because I was told that if you let the tail of the crocodile, it will defeat you. If you lift it up, you can struggle to the banks of the river and when you’re at the banks oft the river, get a stick, stick it in the nostrils of the crocodile and you’re safe. That’s survival skills.

Coming to my entrepreneurial spirit, whatever any man does to live, I too can do it. So why should I go to look for someone to create a job for me? Why can’t I create a job I’m looking for and employ somebody. Further, I have come to understand from my travels abroad that what makes the best way out of poverty is production – meaning entrepreneurship, and any form of production. My friend told me I have so much potential and that any human being is an unfinished product with room to improve everyday. That has been my principle all along. Whatever I’m doing, if it’s not good today, it will be better tomorrow.

Michael Sata Declared Zambia’s Fifth President

Note: Picture of Michael Sata was taken from Lusaka Times, which counts as public domain.

After much anticipation, Michael Sata was declared Zambia’s fifth president today. There were reports of violence in Solwezi (northwest), the Copperbelt (northern) and even Lusaka in the past few days since Zambians went to the polls on the 20th of September. Riots erupted over the delay of election results leading to suspicion of rigging. Yesterday, there were two power shortages where I live near the university. Even before the power shortages, the main television stations updating us with election results had stopped reporting due to an “exparte injunction imposed on three privately-owned media houses” to withhold publishing anything concerning the elections until results had been verified and finalized. By evening when electricity came back on, it was clear that Sata (and his party, PF) was in the lead. Though there were still 34 constituencies remaining to be counted, he had already obtained 40 percent of the votes while the incumbent Rupiah Banda trailed behind. They had not counted many of the constituencies in Lusaka yet. It was common knowledge that Sata had overwhelmingly swept the urban areas by huge margins. When official results were announced late into the night, immediately, we heard shouting, cheering, people running into the streets to celebrate and dance. Sata had won.

According to Lusaka Times, “Justice Irene Mambilima announced early this morning that with totals completed from nearly all the country’s 143 constituencies, Sata had won with 1,150,045 votes, representation 43 percent of the total. President Rupiah Banda had 961,796 votes, representing 36.1 percent. Eight other candidates shared the remainder.”

Now, what of President Michael Sata, otherwise known as “King Cobra”? He was a minister in the governments of both Kaunda and Chiluba. He used to be in the United National Independence Party (UNIP) under Kaunda and then changed to the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) under Chiluba so some see his move to the opposition Patriotic Front (PF) as simply opportunistic and disingenuous. Yet many Zambians consider him as someone to gets things done. He’s known to look out for Zambians. They remember the time when he was a minister of health and they never ran out of medicines at the clinics or hospitals. Detractors, however, worry that his reputed lack of tact and “political thuggery” will cause embarrassment at home and abroad and in dealing with foreign investors.

There is no doubt Sata is a polarizing figure, especially when it comes to the thorny issue of foreign direct investment. Sata has been known to run on an anti-Chinese platform, allegedly heavily supported by Taiwanese donors. Although this claim has been circulating, it has never been substantiated. When I asked an official whether it was true that the Taiwanese were donating campaign money to PF, he replied with a resounding no. It was to the benefit of Sata to tone down his anti-Chinese remarks, which he followed through this time in his campaign. Many of his supporters perceive him to be their defender, one who looks out for Zambians at a time when it seems investors reap all the benefits at the expense of locals. One thing is for sure: Sata has promised to change the way negotiations are done with the Chinese and work to ensure better work conditions, pay and benefits for Zambians.

However, targeting one group of nationals with xenophobic remarks may backfire. Many Chinese may pull out. Already, I have witnessed and experienced elements of xenophobia among Zambians — a strand of “Orientalism” that once plagued (and still exists in parts of ) the United States. Sometimes, I hear Zambians yell out “ching chong” or ask “why are your eyes like that?” Though there are Japanese aid workers and students and South Korean students learning the local languages — I’ve been told Japan and Korean companies are looking to invest in Zambia as well — the common response among Zambians is that “they’re all Chinese.” I have found myself often having to explain the differences among the nationalities and describe the diversity among Chinese themselves in terms of provincial origin, ethnicity, class, profession, and other ascribed attributes. The British colonial legacy has also influenced many to disparage those with non-European features and what they perceive to be “poor English manners” and English language skills. It seems, in general, one’s fluency in English is a marker of status. Thus, it becomes one of the most significant factors in their perceptions of the Chinese in Zambia. Perhaps, a type of racial hierarchy, maybe not the kind operating in the US but similar, is in effect as well, no thanks to Hollywood.

Of course, the discontent with the way many Chinese investors have handled labor matters is legitimate due to poor compensation and treatment of local workers. It is also undeniable that the majority of Chinese individuals and families in Zambia remain physically isolated and less socially and culturally integrated. However, it is curious and telling that the magnitude of emphasis placed on the Chinese (as an abstract, homogeneous entity rather than a group of individuals with diverse interests and origins) in comparison to the emphasis on the actions and often times, complicity of local officials and elites working in partnership with the Chinese is so much more severe. Why? The glare seems to me quite misplaced. It’s also alarmingly reminiscent of the historical racism against the “inscrutable Orientals” in the United States enshrined in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Why Hilary Clinton and Michael Sata, among others, have chosen to emphasize the role of the Chinese in Zambia and on the continent of Africa also raises a few eyebrows. There is a joke among my Zambian friends that Lusaka has turned into a “province” of South Africa. It’s taken over by South African shops, malls, and companies. In the same vein, India has pledged $2.2 billion dollars of FDI in the next several years. Though China is currently one of the top investors in Zambia, labor issues have emerged in South African and Indian companies as well. It seems these problems are symptomatic of the way laws and policies (including tax benefits) have been implemented to give greater advantage to foreign investors and little or none to locals. One piece of evidence is the exorbitant rates at which local micro-finance firms and banks charge Zambians if they want to borrow money to start their own business — often times at 50 percent interest. Thus, if Sata delivers on his promise, he will work to ensure that Zambians themselves give each other the opportunity to become business-owners and stakeholders.

Only then will the rewards of increasing foreign direct investment ultimately and justifiably flow to Zambians themselves.