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WHO IS WHO: Boniface Mabanza Bambu

Lecturer for Development Policy and Anti- Racism

First things first -- how do you find joy in everyday life?

I understand life as a gift, and from that I derive a positive attitude that I maintain despite all adversities. In all situations I have the firm belief that things will go on and will go well.

Regarding your class this week, what is the main topic?

In this week's training, we looked at colonial continuities and racism. As late as the recent murder of G. Floyd and the related upswing of the "Black Lives Matter" movement, there has been plenty of discussion about the necessity of understanding racism in a structural way. The course deals with that: what this means in concrete terms, as well as what this means for development cooperation.

How does racism emerge and subsist in the context of development cooperation?

Historically, "development" was coordinated by colonial powers as the "program" through which the continuation of colonial rule in the face of emerging independence movements could be ensured. The continuities between colonial and development discourse are striking. In addition, power relations have hardly shifted in the post-colonial period. Due to internalization mechanisms, the risk of propagating racism in development cooperation is substantial.

What are some key steps organisations can take to address such longstanding, systemic issues?

It is important for organizations to take a critical look at their internal structures in terms of power imbalances and racism, as well as to review their programs to see how they contribute to either the consolidation or confrontation of colonially-influenced thought patterns and practices.

How can young professionals decolonise knowledge in development?

Young people can contribute to the decolonization of knowledge and knowledge traditions by critically reflecting on the patterns of perception and judgment steered by their own socialization, identifying the gaps, and paying special attention to voices and perspectives that do not appear in colonially shaped spaces and their categories.

What would be your advice and message to young professionals at the SLE before they leave this training and begin their careers in international development?

Young people cannot be held responsible for the history between European countries and their former colonies, but they can contribute by changing structures and healing relationships. They should free themselves from the "burden" of history and use the scope for action that is available to them.

Lastly, what exciting plans do you have in store?

An exciting project for me would be to accompany core institutions of German development cooperation, such as the BMZ and other active organizations, in a critical way with regard to racism and power imbalances. Even more exciting would be the task to design an empowerment program for institutions like the African Union or regional associations like SADC, EAC or ECOWAS.