People and Stories

Berlin in one day: An excursion dedicated to the historical memory

It was on June 1st that most of the MA students from the MA “Global Studies with a special Emphasis on Peace and Security in Africa” (a joint programme with our partner, the Institute for Peace and Security Studies at Addis Ababa University) visited Berlin for the first time in their life.
The excitement and the selfies were the tone of our arrival in Germany’s capital city.

After walking through the Government District and taking more pictures at the Brandenburger Tor, we arrived at our first place of remembrance: the Berlin Wall Memorial. It took us back in time to a physically and politically divided Berlin. The fragments of the old construction and the installation that recreates different wall segments functioned as triggers to evoke diverse scape stories, which highlighted the citizen’s agency, struggle, and even sacrifice to overcome the artificial irruption brought by the wall into their lives.

The second place of remembrance was the Jewish Museum Berlin. Here again, the materiality of the architecture’s design was entirely dedicated to provoking emotions related with historical memory, like the Garden of Exile and Emigration. Its sloping floor and its pillars made tangible the sensation of uneasiness and awkwardness felt by those forced to leave Berlin and to live in unknown new places. Like this, other rooms within the zigzag-shaped building were a reminiscence of the role of Jews in Berlin’s history.

The excursion day ended in the heart of Berlin, Alexanderplatz. We walked among the thousands of tourists that bring life to the city centre every day and finally we found a quiet place to talk about what we saw and learned during the short visit. These new impressions will be for sure one part of the GSPS students studying experience in Leipzig.

GSPS students at the Berlin Wall Memorial © Karen Silva Torres

Leipzig’s Impressions

Everyone would describe how beautiful a place is but that is what everyone expects me to say. However, here is what I thought of Leipzig during my stay.  Let me start with my arrival.  It was the end of winter, the air was gloomy, and trees seem yet to focus on growing leaves.  No fancy building nor large suffocating crowds; I understood that Leipzig is really a place for quiet residency. The warm welcome began at the GESI with necessary settling in information.  Then, the familiarization process continued by arranging an introduction with friends from Leipzig University at a cozy bar with free beer and snacks. That was our first night out.  The next weekend was a visit to the Zoo.  It does not matter whether you come from a world of jungle and wildlife. The Leipzig Zoo reveals how any geographical environment can be perfectly replicated anywhere.    The event organized by the "Centrum für International Migration und Entwicklung" (CIM) impressed me. I came to know their attempts to reverse brain drain practically through ‘Migration for Development’. The real-life experience shared by a medical expert of Ethiopian origin, who recently completed his voluntary service in Gondar, was eye opening.  In the end, of course, a nice

Ethiopian cuisine at Addis Café in Leipzig.
Interestingly, remnants of history such as the Berlin Wall reminded me how history does not go in a linear direction, as the global historical rapture of 1989 showed.  In addition, the various spaces of memories I visited, for example, the Jewish Museum in Berlin, the Buchenwald memorial of the Nazi concentration camp and the Holocaust memorial are repositories and places of reflection of history and culture. Moreover, they gave me an important insight about migration, diversity, and inclusiveness in Germany. 
My take-home was that the conversion of the crime scenes into memorial sites is useful for countries with previous violence such as my own, Ethiopia. I observed the use of these spaces as parts of the transitional justice processes, in the context of remembrance of past atrocities and redressing legacies of human rights abuses through forgiveness and reconciliation.
Finally, the VAD Conference (Association of African Studies in Germany) with the theme of “African Connections” was an important event that I attended.  I learned the new perspectives and the various levels of connections, as well as their roles as enablers of Africa’s entanglement to the global arena and linkages to the new global dynamics.

By Seble G. Gebregiorgis

During her stay in Leipzig, Seble G. Gebregiorgis (GSPS student) supported the VAD Conference 2018. @ Seble G. Gebregiorgis

My summer in Leipzig: Between studying and traveling around

Nchongayi Christantus Begealawuh (GSPS student) in front of the Leipzig University © Nchongayi Christantus Begealawuh

The summer semester in Leipzig was more like combining learning with leisure: just like there was enough time for studies, there was also enough free time.

Aside from the seminars, there was enough time to shop and to enjoy the rich cuisine at “Mensa am Park”. Outside the academic trips to Berlin and the Weimar concentration camp, I also visited Prague (Czech Republic).  I was amazed by some of the buildings constructed during the communists’ era and by the old castle in Prague, which according to the Guinness book of records is the largest ancient castle in the world.

Apart from leisure, the comfortable study spaces of the Albertina Library and the main campus library at Augustusplatz kept me around the campus longer than I expected.

The conference for the African Studies Association in Germany (VAD e.V, 2018) in Leipzig was another opportunity during my last week in Leipzig to mingle with other Africans from cities around Leipzig and in Europe. Their experiences greatly inspired me. It was altogether a fun-filled study trip to Leipzig this summer 2018.

By Nchongayi Christantus Begealawuh

My amazing stay in Leipzig

My short stay in Leipzig was breath-taking. It was amazing to be able to live in a European country and to compare our cultural differences because many of us only know of these differences by reading and seeing news articles. It was quite insightful to have this life experience.
This broadened my perspective on how we, as African potential leaders, can try to deal with the issues our continent is facing. This experience helped me gain a deeper understanding of how the world understands African conflicts and how interactions among students from different countries are in fact learning experiences. For example, our input as Africans, "people on the ground", gave our European peers a chance to understand in detail challenges our continent is facing that they probably would not have known otherwise.
Our trip to Berlin was great, as it allowed me personally to appropriate the advancement Germany is making in trying to amend the damages and crimes that were committed in the past. I learned how keeping memory alive is an important aspect of reconciliation processes, which are necessary for a society to move on.
By Anesu Gwaka

Anesu Gwaka (GSPS student) in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin © Anesu Gwaka

We are highly delighted to congratulate Philani Hlophe Dhlamini (2nd year) and Munashe William Mupoperi (1st year) for their successful participation at the 2018 University Essay Competition.

The competition is one of a series of pre-forum activities organized by the Tana Forum Secretariat aimed at facilitating discussions on the theme of the year. This year’s theme, “Ownership of Africa’s Peace and Security Provision: Financing and Reforming the African Union”, reflects the urgent need to discuss, debate and establish a thorough understanding of the principle of ownership by the AU in delivering its mandate, particularly in the peace and security landscape.

An Excursion to Berlin: 17 June

By the end of the term the students from Addis went on a one-day excursion to Berlin with Professor Ulf Engel. The students’ tight schedule during the semester did not allow for much travelling, so for most it was the first time they had the opportunity to visit the capital. After a walk through the government district and taking a look at the sights that they had seen in their German class textbooks we walked through the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. We then went on a guided tour in Bernauer Straße through the Berlin Wall Memorial. The guide shared some private information on how her grandparents had fled Germany from Nazi prosecution and that she is part of a growing Jewish community in Berlin. The tour revealed details about how the Berlin Wall was secured to prevent people from fleeing from the German Democratic Republic (for example with gravel to detect footprints) and sparked discussions with regard to the ownership and restitution of the buildings located on the border strip. Trying to avoid Neo-Nazi- and counter-demonstrations in that area – after all it was the 17th of June – we relocated to Kreuzberg enjoying strawberry-mint hipster lemonade and Shakshouka for lunch. The last step on the organized programme was a visit to a co-working space in the former Umspannwerk on Paul-Lincke-Ufer. The owner of one of the start-ups in the co-working space called Thunderbolt Collective showed us the relaxing area, the fireside and living rooms, the candy wall and the bar explaining why he had to move from Frankfurt to Berlin to let his start-up business dream come true. He shared his story about not finding programmers in other cities and like-minded people whose first interest is not material well-being, but happiness in what they are doing in a vibrant international city. Students discussed the particularities of Berlin vis-à-vis Silicon Valley and informed the entrepreneur about the start-up scene and online businesses in Africa. The day provided insight into Berlin’s multi-layered history, this time from WWII, to the Cold War, the government relocation and capital reconstruction in the 1990s and the rise of the creative tech scene in the 21st century.

By Claudia Baumann

Students and coordinator Claudia Baumann in Berlin.

Academic and cultural experiences in Leipzig and Germany

As it was my first time to travel to another country, my three months stay in Leipzig is one which has a sentimental value for me. I’m from Addis, the capital of Ethiopia which is said to be a fairly globalized city in Africa. Due to this and my programme Global Studies I’ve had the opportunity to meet people from different parts of the world and be exposed to a diversified environment but the time I spent in Leipzig took me out of my comfort zone and exposed me to an even more internationalized body of academics thereby giving me the opportunity to experience and appreciate firsthand the cultural, social and other differences that lay between each of us who are joined together to learn from each other.
I’ve always been fascinated with the history of the world wars and the effects they have on countries like Germany and how they are dealing with the aftermath. As my course of study is concerned with peace and security focusing on Africa I believe it is vital to know how past injustice and violence is being dealt with so as to come up with a lasting solution to issues the continent is facing in present times. So, coming to Germany and having the opportunity to visit the Buchenwald memorial, the Leipzig GDR museum and the Berlin Wall gave me an idea of how the kind of models transitional justice uses are effectively working in Germany, not to mention visiting those places was a dream come true for me.
Aside from the academic and cultural experience I gained, enjoying the beautiful architecture and the well-planned city has made my stay in Leipzig very memorable. The city is designed to be as comfortable as possible for every class of society, which made it possible for us to easily adapt to the living conditions. And with the support from the Germany scholarship I was awarded during my stay in Leipzig, I was able to focus on my studies and enjoy the beautiful city without having to worry about financial restraints that could have occurred had I not been awarded the scholarship. Therefore I’m very grateful for the pleasant time I spent and would like to thank all who made it possible.

By Tsion Demissie Bergano

Images: Tsion at the excursion to Buchenwald.
Students having dinner together with Professor Engel.

Article: Angela Merkel in Africa - Meeting with students canceld

The article, written by Professor Engel and Professor Middel, about the visit of Angela Merkel in Africa was published by the University Journal LUMAG of the University of Leipzig.  Unfortunately it is only available in German.…/beziehungspflege-in-addis…/

New Students at the IPSS

Seven students of the Global Studies with a special Emphasis on Peace and Security in Africa Programme and five exchange students of the Global Studies Programme started their studies in Addis Ababa at the end of September.

First successful Joint PhD programme dissertation defenses

On the 27th of June 2016, the first joint PhD programme of  “Global and Area Studies with a special Emphasis on Peace and Security in Africa” took place in the Centre for Area Studies. Four Ph.D. students from Addis Ababa presented and defended their dissertations successfully.
Following the successful public dissertation defense, the students were awarded with the academic title of “Doctor of Philosophiae (Dr. Phil.)” in the field of Global Studies.

Congratulations to our postgraduates; Mercy Fekadu Mulugeta, Solomon Hassen, Fana Gebresenbet Erda and Dawit Yohannes Wondemagegnehu and best wishes for their their future academic endeavors.

f.l.t.r.: Mercy F. Mulugeta, Dawit Y. Wondemagegnehu, Fana G. Erda, Solomon Hassen

Diversity in Academia, Beyond Perception and a Critique of Reality by Gerald L. Witherspoon

The evolution of higher education from a once homogenous composition of individual, whether Anglo-Americans or European males, dominated the core foundation of an institution which affords professional opportunities and social mobility to persons seeking self-development. However, this historical trend should be examined as a reflection of the cultural, social and political realities which permeated life during such institutions establishment. Essentially, universities or institutions of higher education were not obliged to acknowledge public perception of equality and diversity in education, as societies' social norms fostered an acceptance of disenfranchisement and prejudice. This historic backdrop irrefutably contradicts the global reality of higher education today.

Reflecting on my educational experiences, it seems the very same mechanisms which conformed higher education in previous centuries, are undoing those institutionalized mores. In higher-education marketing strategies, it has become common practice to develop programs, advertisements, or even workshops which attest to the institutions faith in global diversity in education. In fact, the most elite American universities initiate a multicultural organization/department whose responsibility it is to promote diversity through engagements. However, some institutions fall short of matching their administrative ambitions to the enrollment realities of their student population.

Graduating with my bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University (New Jersey, USA) in 2013, I had undergone a four-year journey which entailed a multicultural quality. As an African-American attending one of the more prestigious universities in my state, I interacted with a host of friends, colleagues, and classmates who brought a conscious awakening in myself, be it in the classroom or at my part-time on-campus job. These individuals were from various socioeconomic backgrounds, but all excelled in being who they were. While the classroom is often recognized as the primary arena for higher education, I learned as much, if not more, from the various interpersonal exchanges outside of class due to this multiethnic ambiance. It is no surprise that President Obama has recently accepted to be the 2016 Commencement Speaker for the university.

As a graduate-student of Leipzig University (Germany), the Global and European Studies Institute (GESI) embodies the qualities which I had become familiar with at my undergraduate institution. Typical admissions rhetoric of diversity in brochures and informative catalogues are beyond the effort which GESI practices. The joint-Global Studies MA program with a specialization on Peace and Security in Africa— which I am presently enrolled—demonstrates its commitment to diversity through its formal partnership with the Institution for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) at Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia). Having traveled from New Jersey to enroll in a joint-study program that teaches transnational theories and analyzes global issues from a multidisciplinary approach instills in me a dynamic disposition that transcends my academic pursuits. In my opinion, educational institutions which make conscious efforts to incorporate diversity through practical means often excel in offering students the true value of their education.

Ethiopian Easter in Leipzig by Rahwa Gebreyohannes Teklu

As it is known Ethiopian Easter is celebrated on May 1. As well, the people use the holiday as a motive for a family gathering. Thus, people from different places gather around and celebrate the holiday with pleasure. Likewise, people wear traditional clothes, then special foods and drinks would be prepared for the holiday. Nevertheless, this year’s Easter was relatively different. Since we celebrated Easter in Leipzig. Accordingly, the Ethiopian community in Leipzig organized an Easter holiday event. Though, we couldn’t spend the holiday with our family the community in Leipzig welcomed us affectionately. Hence, we were contented to see a strong bond Ethiopian community has and how they all gather around to celebrate the holiday. Moreover, they tried to make the holiday celebration as it is done in Ethiopia by wearing Ethiopian traditional clothes, making holiday foods and drinks, doing the Ethiopian way of making coffee. Therefore, we celebrated the Easter holiday as a family with the Ethiopian community in Leipzig.

Summer Term 2016 started in Leipzig

The M.A. Global Studies: Peace and Security in Africa welcomed 12 students in Leipzig. With regard to the study program, the students and PH.D. students spent the summer term in Leipzig and accomplished compulsory and mandatory courses. Besides the organization of bureaucratic requirements which filled up the schedule of the first week, the students were introduced to the city of Leipzig during a guided city tour, a visit of the so called “Uni-tower”, the zoo, and the House of History (Zeithistorisches Museum). Within the framework of the official welcome reception in the famous student club "Moritzbastei", all students from this particular Global Studies program came together and used the opportunity to exchange experiences, perspectives and make plans for future excursions and cooperative seminars.

PhD Student Fana wins Young African Scholar Award

Fana Gebresenbet, PhD student of the first cohort and currently submitting his dissertation to the joint PhD examination committee in Addis and Leipzig won the Young African Scholar award which was advertised by the Center of Africa Studies at the University of the Free State (in South Africa) and the Africa Spectrum Journal. The award seeks to strengthen efforts to further promote internationally recognized African scholarship in African Studies. After his paper was accepted Fana was offered to become an affiliated research scholar for the Center of Africa Studies and receives 5.000 Rand for his work to be published.

Article about ICC by Professor and MA graduate published

Dr. Gilad Ben-Nun, teaching staff in the programme Global Studies with a special emphasis in Peace and Security in Africa and Hannamariam Seyoum a recent MA graduate teamed up to discuss a powerful topic: The Independence of the International Criminal Court". Hannamariam explored the topic in her master thesis which was graded with utmost distinction by professors from Addis and Leipzig.

The article is published on

Summer Term 2015 in Leipzig

The Country of Art: My time in Leipzig
by Wudassie Ayele Asfaw, MA Student

Germany has been quite interesting for me from the day I arrived. Leipzig being the first foreign city I have come to visit different aspects of it have put me into a new social setting. The structure of which has so far been fascinating. The day I arrived in Frankfurt I was confronted with very strong cold weather I have never experienced before. On my way from Frankfurt to Leipzig I saw places covered with snow and observed well protected natural environment endowed with the beauty of green nature. Upon arrival the first thing I noticed in Leipzig was the old but artistic and grandly graceful architecture of the buildings. Through time I felt overwhelmed by the depth of historical events that took place in Leipzig when taking transitional justice course and talking about the Leipzig trail. Actually visiting the court and the historical sites made my experience complete.
Tsion, Yemsrach and Wudassie attending the Leipzig Marathon in 2015 meeting Tekalegn Tebelu Abebe

The diversity of students and the very interesting welcoming vibe they have to meet new people, understand new culture and explore Europe is fascinating. Leipzig is uniquely endowed with large number of students eager for social interaction, and travelling. Students full of happiness that make each of your day happy, exciting and interesting. The value given to art and diversified social events by the peoples of Leipzig was truly interesting to me. Seeing many people with their violin, cello and double bass, inserted in me a desire for classical music. Especially visiting concerts in the Leipzig Opera House where the effort of the musicians come to life make your day unforgettable. Leipzig Opera House is a classic place to visit and enjoy deep music. Moreover, Gothic festival is one of the events where you could see the beauty and diversity of art. Especially, to see people coming from all over Germany to take part in the Gothic festival and their excitement to be part of the event makes you see the value art has in the society.   

MA Students in Leipzig: Sarah, Yemsrach, Tsion, Wudassie and Annika on the left and Naoya, Yemsrach and Duncan on the right.