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Archive for December, 2015

On 19 November, four African restaurants, each representing a different region of the continent, gathered together at Earthy Café to compete for the coveted title of African Food Battle Champion 2015.

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The event, attended by almost one hundred people, was organised by Stephen Kaye (Centre of African Studies), the Global Development Alliance, the Edinburgh University International Development Society (EUID) and the Edinburgh University Swahili Society, and aimed to promote and celebrate the diversity of African cuisine and art.

As well as the delicious food on offer, prepared by Jambo Grill (East), Knight’s Kitchen (South), African Flavour (West) and Café Arabicana (North), guests were also able to enjoy Afrobeat from Samba Sene & Diwan, comedy from award-winning comedian Njambi McGrath, a performance from professional storyteller Mara Menzies, and electrifying drumming from the University of Edinburgh Drumming Society. Also in attendance were STV, who filmed a three-minute segment of the evening for their Fountainbridge Show.

The eventual winner of the title, as voted for by the guests present, was the Café Arabicana team, who are already preparing to defend their crown at the sequel, scheduled for April 2016.

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MSc in African Studies student Hermine Kudia writes about the recent CAS retreat to the Burn.

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While I did not know what to expect from a weekend away with the CAS staff and my fellow new colleagues, I awaited the retreat with much anticipation.

After what seemed like a long drive to Aberdeenshire, we arrived to a welcoming old Scottish country house, what was to be known as The Burn and home for the next two nights. Upon arrival we were greeted by Paul and settled into our rooms. We were very quickly made to feel welcome and at ease. The night consisted of watching ‘We Will Win Peace’, a documentary by Seth Chase, exploring and critiquing aid organisations and their effects in the DRC. The compelling nature of the documentary created a starting point for discussion. With a room full of eager and opinionated students, the night was off to a good start and discussion. With the conversation moderated by Dr Sarah-Jane Cooper-Knock, different voices and opinions were heard. As Dr Zoe Marks stressed in her first seminar of the term (paraphrasing) ‘You are open to say your opinions and opinions can change’- which is certainly what happened over the weekend with educated discussions taking place.

The Walk, Debate and Braii

After a thought provoking and insightful night we awoke to the sound of a large gong calling us all down for breakfast. Breakfast was swiftly followed by a walk in the Aberdeenshire gardens, Dr Wolfgang knew his way around well and led the pack; which is what we had become, having familiarised ourselves with each other. After the walk, we had a hearty and warm lunch followed by a round of debating.

Debating consisted of many topics including motions such as ‘Has Aid done more to hurt Africa then help it’ and ‘This House believes in African Solutions to African Problems’. Through the session we enhanced our effective communication skills, teamwork and broke down national, economic, cultural and ethnic boundaries. This was an engaging way to connect the students, also encouraging discussion.

An outdoor South African Braii followed soon after, with Dr Wolfgang grilling the meat at the social gathering. The Braii, a social tradition was definitely fitting for the night. With everyone gathered around the fire, storytelling began and laughter filled the Aberdeenshire air

Final Day

On our last day a Reading Group was planned, evaluating Achille Mbembes ‘The South African Political Life’ and a critique piece from T.O.Molefe ‘A long comment on Mbembe’s state of South African politics’. The conversation around the piece opened up discussion, to say the least, and touched on personal experiences. Inspired by the shared desire for conversation, a bimonthly reading group was created, hosted by both Dr Marks and Dr Cooper-Knock.

The CAS Annual Retreat truly exceeded expectation and brought together new members of the department. The greatness of conversation was not limited to the country house, but a passion for Africa poured out into the seminars and lecture discussions in the coming week. Questions were asked, ideas were developed and false assumptions were put aside. I believe it would be accurate to say that not only did the new Masters students learn on the trip, but so too did the lecturers.

I would like to give a special thanks to; Dr Sarah Jane Cooper-Knock, Dr Zoe Marks, Dr Sam Spiegel and Dr Wolfgang Zeller.

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