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Interesting Lectures and Seminars

Political and Economic Situations in Southern African Countries

This class is a first! - An ambassador to Japan from southern African countries comes every week! -

Ms. Kotoyumi Yamaguchi
4th Year Student at the School of International Liberal Studies

In the Political and Economic Situations in Southern African Countries class taught by Associate Professor Sadaharu Kataoka, an ambassador to Japan from southern African countries participates in the class every week.

Upon hearing the word Africa, many people imagine malnourished children and refugee camps. During a year of foreign study in London, I had the opportunity to hear real stories about Africa while viewing pictures showed to me by a friend who was born in Africa. As a result, I realized how the image of Africa which I had carried with me until that time had been unconsciously created by only a very limited amount of information. My desire to understand Africa from a broader perspective led me to take this class.

Broadly speaking, there are 2 main interesting aspects of this class. The first interesting aspect is the ability to directly listen to ambassadors from African countries speak about various issues such as discussions of the colonial period, discussions of aid received from Japan, policies for development of the country, and initiatives against HIV. The class with the Botswana Ambassador was particularly impressionable. Although the democratic movement has been extremely difficult in African countries, the democratic movement spread very smoothly in Botswana. This is because communities have functioned in Botswana since long ago.

These communities provided a base for the spread of the democratic movement. Furthermore, the GDP growth rate in Botswana in 2005 was 8.4%, but fell to around 4.2% in both 2006 and 2007. I was surprised at the fact that the market price of diamonds could affect the GDP of one country so much as to cause the growth rate to drop to half.

The second interesting aspect is the Q&A time, in which opinions are actively exchanged. In addition to Japanese students, students from countries such as Korea, Senegal, America, Mexico, and Kenya also participate in the class. As a result, the ambassador is asked questions which come from many different viewpoints, and the contents of the questions themselves are varied and interesting.

I also find it interesting to listen to and understand the English spoken by the people of Africa, something which I do not normally have a chance to hear. This kind of class is only possible thanks to the strong connections that Professor Kataoka has among representatives, even presidents, of African countries.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)