Mambulu Ekutsu - African Summer School
Amilcar Cabral said, "A people that frees itself from foreign domination will only be culturally free if, without complex and without underestimating the importance of the positive aspects of the cultures of the oppressor and of other cultures, it returns to the glorious paths of Its own culture ... if imperialist domination has the vital need to practice cultural oppression, national liberation is necessarily a cultural act”. One cannot state enough that Africa, which is rich in its culture, alas, seems to have been devoted to obloquies disrupting it to the limit of ridicule. Fortuna Mambulu Ekutsu, that we receive today had the logical idea of trying to save what can be saved by proposing another paradigm that considers the millennial culture of its continent of origin in a world in full mutation.
Fortuna Mambulu Ekutsu, hello Flashmag and its readership are happy to have you as a special guest this month so tell us who are you, and why did you take an initiative like the African Summer School?
Mambulu Ekutsu: I am a young African living in Italy in the world of communication and cross-cultural education. I like to call myself "evangelist" of the Renaissance and African geostrategic. I created African Summer School first because I became aware of a fact: African youth living abroad need access to "African sovereign knowledge" a knowledge that emanates from a process of development of information sovereignly African, and independent of diktats and foreign desiderata. I realized this, during a conference I had organized in 2011 in Verona (Italy) with Jean Paul Pougala, whose arguments were about why the war against Libya had mobilized the young African students of the University of Verona for more than three hours of conference. It was from this experience that the intuition of organizing an African summer school was born.
What is the content of the program and it’s focused on who?
Mambulu Ekutsu: The African Summer School was officially born in 2013, with training on the "African geostrategic" given by the aforementioned Jean Paul Pougala and intended mainly for young afro-descendants, but also open to anyone passionate about African issues. From that first year, didactics focused on two aspects: the dissemination of African knowledge and the preparation of young participants in social and entrepreneurial action. The reasoning that led us to this second aspect of our didactics is based on the idea that to have knowledge is not enough, if this knowledge does not carry to action. The action also requires the acquisition of key skills, such as the ability to translate one's own ideas into projects, or even to write and launch a business project. Today, didactics is based on a third pillar, namely, the personal development of the participants, realizing that without knowing to be, knowledge and know-how lose all their essence. Our training consists of two stages: a full residential immersion of 48 hours which takes place during the summer (mid-July) in Villa Buri (Verona), and three months of self-training during which the participants write memoires, or build projects on social or entrepreneurial issues, which are subsequently evaluated in an internal competition towards the end of November.
For five years now, you have been working on this upgrading of the continent and its culture if we were to take stock of how this initiative is taking place, what enthusiasm it arouses within the African diaspora in Europe?
Mambulu Ekutsu: We trained more than 150 young people. Some have been able to effectively launch their business project, thanks also to the visibility received by our school. A young Togolese, for example, returned to Lomé to launch a project of fish farming presented at the first edition of African Summer School. Many have decided to dedicate their dissertation at the end of university training to arguments concerning the African continent, with a view to revalorizing African knowledge. The African Summer School arouses the birth of young leaders who leave our formation, transformed, with a great desire to be socially involved in the march of Africa and its diaspora. This is the case for example of one of our students of last year, who has just launched a platform - Isquare - which brings together the afro-descendants of Ivorian origin living in Italy. As a school, we have created a network of African teachers who meet our requirements, and a brand of trust and seriousness in our management style.
The African diaspora is broad have you thought to multiply the centers of your activity in other places?
Mambulu Ekutsu: We have an internationalization policy to reach many more, young Afro-descendants in 2016 we successfully launched an e-learning course in Kinshasa and a residential training course in Brussels. This policy will continue in Kinshasa with the launch of a real residential formation as early as 2018; Due to difficulties with our local partners, training in Brussels has not been followed up. For now, the idea is to concentrate our efforts on the institutionalization of the African Summer School with the creation of an Institute and maintaining in the coming years only two training poles, one in Europe and another in Africa. We will resume the multiplication of our centers once our future Institute is launched and we will have a real financial stability.
Who collaborates in this program and how does it work? Do they do it on a voluntary basis or are they paid?
Mambulu Ekutsu: African Summer School is legally conveyed by the Africasfriends Association. The Association uses volunteers during the training week. All our professors and consultants are paid. As managers and members of the association, we receive only refunds of our expenses, considering our action first as a mission. The real business project will be launched with the birth of our Institute, where every worker will have to receive an adequate remuneration.
This program is free or paid for? Where to apply?
Mambulu Ekutsu: Participation in the program is subject to the payment of a small contribution (from 320 to 400 euro, depending on the time of registration) which does not exceed 60% of the actual cost to train each student. Registration is done online by accessing our website www.africansummerschool.org (African Summer School Italy)
Is there a level of study required to take part in this school?
You just need to be over 18 years of age and have at least a secondary school diploma.
Verona seems to be less cosmopolitan than Milan, Paris, London, or New York, isn’t it a slight brake on your Initiative? I do not have an accurate idea of the statistics but the Afro community seems to be less important in your city, have you thought about doing distance learning to reach more people?
Mambulu Ekutsu: For the moment, as far as Europe is concerned, we remain centered in Verona. This is for historical, logistical and financial reasons, and because of the abortive attempts at expansion in Europe. We expect to launch our Institute first and then find reliable partners. The e-learning modules are being studied. They will be offered by our Institute, in collaboration with our professors, by 2018 if all goes well.
One will never states enough that money, it is the nerve of war, an enterprise like yours command material means, how do you make up for this aspect?
Mambulu Ekutsu: We work in the sphere of social entrepreneurship. Our students support the 60% of the expenses of the school. The rest of the funds are made up of allowances from sponsors and private and public donations. To achieve our goals, we give a lot of attention to the communication and marketing of the semi-sold service.
In the current configuration of the north-south relations and the perception of the black diaspora of the west by the other social groups in your opinion what is the best option for blacks to reconquers their nobility?
Mambulu Ekutsu: Structurally help the growth of a Negro-African elite conscious of the major historical and current stakes linked to the survival of this socio-cultural group in the world. An elite ready to struggle body and soul, together, so that black Africans have a better perception of themselves, modify positively their inner and inter communal relations often harmful, take account of the war that is carried out against them from Centuries, and decide not to be the laughing stock but the guide of the world, conscious of having been the first to experiment and develop humanity. An elite capable of constructing the instruments necessary for the sustainability of this new will of "black power", such as the famous African federal state suggested by Theophile Obenga, with a view also to participate worthily in the meeting of Giving and receiving. It’s this will to power which we lack; from it, will result many other aspects. To do this, knowledge, know-how and know-how based on our cultural heritage should be placed at the center of our action.
What would you reply to those who think that African renaissance movements are living in a glorious past when the present is laborious and requires strong emergency measures?
Mambulu Ekutsu: I would say that everything starts in thought. When the thought is good, the resulting action is normally Good. Now, our system of thought is largely borrowed; It is, in the major part of the cases, foreign to our traditions, and therefore not always in our best interests. It does not value us as agents of history. The African Renaissance project wants to change this trend; It is not an attempt to rediscover our glorious past to delude ourselves and fold our arms, even though knowing that your ancestors had built pyramids already creates a positive psychological burden. It is a question of questioning this glorious past, understanding its ins and outs, rebuilding the present, rebuilding our power, re-establishing a logical sequence broken by negative historical events such as slavery and colonization.
Despite the centuries of exploration, the history of Africa remains very poorly known, and until then African historiography is at best badly written, what precaution do you take to ensure that what is taught to your students is
authentic? How do you select your study programs?
Mambulu Ekutsu: Being aware that there are two schools in African history, the diopist and the Hegelian schools, we consider these issues in the choice of our teachers and in the composition of our didactics. Usually we read the writings of our future teachers, follow their social actions and try to understand the socio-political part of their academic commitment before inviting them to teach in our school.
What have you planned for this summer?
Mambulu Ekutsu: We offer African youth a training in "Religion, Knowledge, and Afro-business" which will take place in Verona from July 23rd to the 30th, in an environment (Villa Buri) Chosen to guarantee reciprocal knowledge, learning and networking. The program and registration procedure (up to the last available place) can be consulted on the following link: http://www.africansummerschool.org/enrollment/
At the end of this interview do you have a special word to the public?
Mambulu Ekutsu: At a time when religious and economic-financial fundamentalism is taking the world in hostage, the historical knowledge, know-how and know-being of Negro Africans can constitute the third voice, or way, long awaited by all, for the salvation of blacks and the world. We must have the audacity to become ourselves again, to resume and to deploy our right of affinity over a lost humanity.
Mambulu Ekutsu Flashmag and his readers thank you for this interview.
Interviewed by Hubert Marlin E. Jr.