Africa and Paris: “If you want to walk fast, walk alone; but if you want to walk far, walk together”

This week started in a very positive way but ended tragically.

Our Africa day on 10 November meant the start of a deepening and concretization of the work that Lund University’s Africa Group has been planning since they were established. Bringing together researchers and students from different parts of the University in order to discuss cross boundary collaboration was one of the goals. Tthere was a speed dating, research match making of ongoing projects related to the African continent, and valuable presentations of what we can do together with our African colleagues, and what actually is going on in some parts of Africa, including a report from the Africa correspondent for the national newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

The Swedish Ambassador to Nigeria and Ghana, H.E. Svante Kilander presented the situation in Nigeria, this huge country that in two generations time will have doubled their population. There are great expectations and hope for the future, not at least because of the recent results of the election. Education is the way forward, the Ambassador pointed out.

Professor Margret C Lee, from the University of North Carolina, gave the stories of five ”unsung heroes” in Africa – five persons’ lives and efforts for a better Africa. I think we all were very touched by these stories which gave inspiration and hope.
Another goal was to understand what activities SIDA endorse in relation to research cooperations.  Dr AnnaMaria Oltorp, Head of SIDA division for research collaborations gave us food for thought, and said that she was impressed with the work Lund University is doing.

See and hear the discussions in the evening “Debate in Lund” here.

The day after, the Faculty of Medicine arranged an event with dear friends of the University. Presentations were made about global health, with special focus on research projects going on in developing countries. Important research about preeclampsia, HIV, TBC, sexual rights and global surgery was presented.

The week ended in tragedy. Our deepest thoughts go to the many victims and their families and friends of the atrocious terrorist attack in Paris! We must always fight for freedom of speech, of religion, and Universities are agents for change here. Wherever we come from, we need to see to it that we as Universities can stand up for changes in mentality, towards democratic attitudes where such attitudes are at risk.

“If you want to walk fast, walk alone; but if you want to walk far, walk together”.
The above African proverb has been quoted numerous times to demonstrate the power that comes with working with others towards achieving something greater for groups of persons, than sole individuals. To us, it emphasizes the power of relationships!  Next week I will meet with colleagues in Shanghai and in London.  We are in it together and we will find comfort realizing that we have friends around the world.

Take care,

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