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Father Claude

As I was saying.....

I embrace the world from my backyard at the University of Portland, January 1, 2018. I again invite you to "clod-hop" with me on my journeys to Latin America via this blog. More...

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POLITICS OF AFRICA , SEEN FROM CHILE AUGUST 2013 (Category: International Politics)

Director José Morandé, of the Instituto de Estudios Internacionales, My boss,for whom I worked for the pst 6 years. We were discussing the focus of my seminar on Politics in East Africa.

IEI /  U. of Chile

I have been in Santiago Chile for 3 weeks, teaching a seminar on Politics in Africa at the University of  Chile, Institute for International Studies. Students here are anxious to learn about Africa, and have been very responsive. Heavy readings, intense discussions. They have little background on African history, so they have much to learn. The biggest challenge for them seems to be the importance of Africa for international relations in the 21st Century.

They are surprised (and I hope, challenged) to  discover the useful contrasts between the two continuents, Laatin America and Africa. There are many points of similarities and differences. Similarities includes the struggle to overcome a colonial mentality,  two of the largest and riches continents in the world, intensely religious traditions  of both continents, military coups and fragility of democratic institutions. 

Differences include the diversity of languages,, intensity of regional conflicts, massive involvement and intervention by all the great powers, and the growing intervention of the US and Europe in the name of war on terrorism.  It is not difficult for Chileans to understand that Africans (especially Ugandans, Kenyans, Tanzanians,Nigerians and Sudanes need to discover how to manipulate these great powers to their developmental advantages.  

Perhaps one of the most challenging contrasts for me, between  Uganda (as representative of Africa) and Chile (as an intensely nationalistic people) is the reole of religion in national politics. Both of these religious cultures have contributed enormously to linking past, popular traditions to the organizaed r churches and their institutions. Africa’s rich religious past is only starting to emerge and the syncretism of religious customs (with Catholic rituals) is  profound and mysterious. Chilean have long adapted their Marian religious and popular spirituality to traditional Christian rituals.  

Finally, I can only remind interested readers that travel to Africa and Latin America involves an exhausting variety of experiences. However, there is not substitute to insertion in local customs, bet it the best Kenyan beer or the richest Chilean wines. Food along, in both places makes any visit worthwhile.



Permalink | Wednesday, August 28, 2013