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Alumni of Arican Studies Leipzig

If you studied, did a doctorate, taught, researched or worked at the University of Leipzig, you are one of our alumni.

Use the registration form to create a profile on our alumni portal free of charge. There you can keep your contact details up to date and search for and find other alumni.

Alumni profile

Anja Drame. Foto: M. Jezerski
Anja Drame. Foto: M. Jezerski

1. Do you remember your first days at the Institute of African Studies in Leipzig? Would you please share your first impressions?

That was a long time ago, back then the institute was on the 22nd floor of the skyscraper in the city. Everything was quite new and unfamiliar to me, but it didn't take long before I finally found my way around. But once I was in touch with fellow students, it was all easy.

2. Have you ever doubted your decision to study African Studies? If so, how did you deal with it?

Never really, even though I I've been asked many times what I was going to do with African Studies. However, to be on the safe side, I had picked minor subjects that were “job–oriented” (first business administration and later on German as a foreign language). Today, I would probably not do that again, because it didn't really help me professionally. It was kind of a safety net, but I didn't really need it.

3. To what extend did studying African Studies in Leipzig shape your current professional activity? Is there a connection between your studies and your job?

Implicitly, yes. Quite a lot actually. The reference to Africa is like a red thread running through my entire career. There were always projects in Africa or with African partners: first, in project management at an international association in the field of multilingual communication, later on in my doctoral studies and ultimately, in field research for with Doctors Without Borders, for instance.

4. Any advice for current students?

Be fearless and ambitious! Even if it seems difficult or unpromising sometimes. Trust your gut feeling and your personal interest. There are job prospects in every subject, however, you might not get your dream job right away. Flexibility, a bit of perseverance and occasionally, the willingness to compromise are key. Show interest, make contacts and do not always try to take the most comfortable route. In order to be able to keep up the necessary motivation over the years, you have to like your subject, which is easy when it comes to a heterogeneous subject like African Studies.

 

Personal details:
Surname, first name: Drame, Anja
Degree: Magister in African Studies (HF), Applied Linguistics and German as a Foreign Language (NF)
Year of exmatriculation: 2002 
Current employer / position : Médecins sans frontières / (Field) Researcher (Operational Support / Humanitarian Sector Labor Markets)

Detlef Mehnert, Foto: Detlef Mehnert.
Detlef Mehnert, Foto: Detlef Mehnert.

1. Do you remember your first days at the Institute of African Studies in Leipzig? Would you please share your first impressions?

When I started my studies, the institute was still in the university tower on the 22nd floor. It was me and 10 fellow students. The first few days were very exciting, the institute was in a period of change and everything concerning some of the staffs contracts and the courses was a little uncertain.

2. Have you ever doubted your decision to study African Studies? If so, how did you deal with it?

No, because I decided to study what I was really interested in. I still stand by that today, even though my professional wishes did not come true.

3. To what extend did studying African Studies in Leipzig shape your current professional activity? Is there a connection between your studies and your job?

Until today, my studies in Leizig and my subsequent studies abroad at the School of Oriental & African Studies in London as well as my stays on the African continent have shaped me as a person. Unfortunately, to my current job my degree is of little importance. Until 2015 however, when I was working in project management, I was able to draw a lot from it, especially when it comes to structuring work as well as social and intercultural competence.

4. Do you have any advice for current students?

Go for your interests and go full force. If your professional dreams cannot be realized, don’t be afraid to do something else either. Even a so-called "bread and butter job" might generate the financial resources you need in order to be able to meet your intellectual demands and interests.

Jasmin Paul, Foto: Chistel Nowak.
Jasmin Paul, Foto: Chistel Nowak.

1. Do you remember your first days at the Institute of African Studies in Leipzig? Would you please share your first impressions?

I had already quit a state examination course and done various internships and freelance gigs as well as a bachelor’s degree. So, new places or new beginnings no longer unsettle me. I particularly liked the beautiful rooms, the location and its proximity to the library. I also remember that everyone I met was nice and very helpful.

2. Have you ever doubted your decision to study African Studies? If so, how did you deal with it?

I believe that anything you ever learn is useful in some way. I was able to go to Africa for a journalistic internship during my first master’s semester and got a sense of how newspapers are made in Namibia and Ghana. Ultimately, that opened the door to my subsequent employer, where I was able to do a paid editorial training and contribute some articles related to Africa. Nevertheless, I later decided to return to my first passion and have now been working in corporate communication in the healthcare sector for more than 5 years. However, Africa is still an integral part of my free time — be it in the form of reading or vacation.

3. To what extend did studying African Studies in Leipzig shape your current professional activity? Is there a connection between your studies and your job?

I loved my MA studies. During my BA studies already I was attracted to Africa: great landscapes, fascinating people, delicious food, countless different beliefs and cultures, wonderful art and — what was important to me personally - a niche in which I would have been able to share my knowledge and have my experiences shine. Even back in school, it bothered me that Africa was never even mentioned. During my bachelor's degree, I attended history seminars concerning Africa and for the masters, I finally wanted to do something just for myself, not for my professional career. Because let's be realistic: Except for GIZ jobs, there are hardly any offers in the field of African Studies, plus usually these jobs are temporary and poorly paid, so that only a few people ultimately decide to work in this field.

4. Do you have any advice for current students?

Don't exhaust yourself! Grades are not the most important thing! Work experience counts much more than the grade of your BA or MA certificate. In addition, please do not count on finding a well-paid job related to Africa. Personally, I have learned to keep my profession and my passion separate, so I do not get fed up. So, my advice is this: Go for Africa in your free time, maybe not so much for work. You’ll be happier.

 

Personal details:
Surname, first name: Paul, Jasmin
Degree: M. A. African Studies
Year of graduation: 2013
Current employer / position: Mitarbeiterin in der Presse-/Öffentlichkeitsarbeit in einer großen Gesundheitsholding mit Seniorenzentren (BBT-Region Tauberfranken-Hohenlohe)

1. Do you remember your first days at the Institute of African Studies in Leipzig? Would you please share your first impressions?

The seminar room of the institute was located on the 23rd or 25th floor in the city skyscraper. To get there, you first had to catch the right elevator, because not every elevator stopped at every floor. Also, the entire building was in a triangle shape, which took a lot of getting used to. Fifteen years later, when I came back to the city skyscraper, the EEX was located there.

2. Have you ever doubted your decision to study African Studies? If so, how did you deal with it?

I struggled with the language classes. I wasn't very motivated, even though I was very interested in sociolinguistics. However, I never doubted the overall decision.

3. To what extend did studying African Studies in Leipzig shape your current professional activity? Is there a connection between your studies and your job?

A lot! I am a senior advisor to one of the 25 executive directors on the World Bank's board of directors in Washington. The World Bank is very active in Africa and I am responsible for the World Bank projects on the continent. When I comment on board documents about financial support, SME financing or country strategies, for instance, I sometimes do remember parts of the courses I took with professors Kappel, Engel and Jones.

4. Do you have any advice for current students?

Go out to the field and into the world! To me, my study trip to Dakar was a great experience. It wasn't an easy year, but it influenced me a lot. So, go ahead look for jobs and internships related to Africa as early as possible. Before I went to Dakar, I did an internship at Deutsche Welle (at that time in Cologne), and luckily, that is how I got to work as a correspondent for their station in Senegal.

1. Do you remember your first days at the Institute of African Studies in Leipzig? Would you please share your first impressions?

My start in Leipzig was not a classic one, as I was just transitioning from another university in the middle of my studies and, thus, got in touch with the other students in the first and third semesters at the same time. Nevertheless, I was very satisfied with my decision to move, since the content taught at the Leipzig Institute was exactly what I had missed in my previous studies. I remember the pleasant atmosphere, which felt like family and offered opportunities for discussion; the lecturers were experienced and the city was just great.

2. Have you ever doubted your decision to study African Studies? If so, how did you deal with it?

I didn't doubt my choice, of course. It was clear to me that I wanted to study something I was very interested in. However, to some of the people around me though it was not always easy to understand I did not have answer to the question of what I was going to do after graduation.

3. To what extend did studying African Studies in Leipzig shape your current professional activity? Is there a connection between your studies and your job?

In the meantime, I am mostly working as a freelancer on topics related to discrimination and racism — the connection between the content of the workshop content and what I learned during my studies is significant: Historical, political, social and linguistic aspects, for instance. And during my studies, too, I was confronted with questions and issues relating to racism and the African continent and way too often did I explain that Africa is not a country and that I am not learning African.

4. Do you have any advice for current students?

I would like to point out that African Studies is not a study program that comes with one single career path or job description. Instead the study program course opens up plenty of possibilities to get involved with and many exciting things to discover. It is also helpful to be willing to question and maybe change your own assumptions and way of looking at the world.

 

Personal details:
Surname, first name: Augustin, Sina
Degree: BA Afrikastudien
Year of graduation: 2014
Current employer / position: freelance Bildungsreferentin

1. Can you still remember your first days of study - what was your first impression of the Institute for African Studies?

My experience as a doctoral student in the Institute of African Studies at UniLeipzig was non-conventional. The reason is that I arrived in the city of Leipzig in September of 2006 to begin a doctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. However, I had to register as a student at the University of Leipzig in the same year, and I later defended my dissertation in 2009. I should also add that even though I was mostly working from the MPI–EVA building on Deutscher Platz 6, I had a wonderful experience relating with other students at the Institute for African Studies where I had my dissertation supervisor. In fact, I was the drummer for the Jabulani Africa dance group. Those days were truly awesome, and I still cherish those beautiful memories. 

2. Have you ever doubted your choice of study? If so, how did you deal with it?

No, I never doubted my choice of study. I am a linguist by training, and my dissertation was A Reference Grammar of a West Benue-Congo language known as Oko. My supervisor at the Institute of African Studies was Prof. Dr. Ekkehard Wolf. Of course, I had a wonderful relationship with my supervisor.

3. How much has your study of Africa in Leipzig shaped your current professional activity? Is there a connection between your studies and your job? Can you still use things from your studies?

I am an African by birth and a linguist by training. I am currently working in the academics, which means that all my experience and training while in Leipzig, and even before Leipzig are being put to use in the delivery of my lectures and in my interactions with my students on a consistent basis. 

4. What advice would you give today's first–year students?

My advice to new or first-year students in the Institute of African Studies at UniLeipzig is to stay focused on their studies because the opportunities are limitless. I believe strongly that Africa’s time to be a prominent player in the global economy is finally here. The continent is thriving with a very young and vibrant population. The world will soon be counting on Africa, the cradle of humanity, to lead the way into a new and sustainable future.

 

Personal details:
Surname, name, Atoyebi Joseph Dele
Degree course: Promotion
Year of de-registration: June 2009
Current employer / position: University College of the North, The Pas Campus, The Pas, Manitoba, Canada / Assistant Professor

Daniel Fabian, Foto: Fredericka Adeola Schwarz.
Daniel Fabian, Foto: Fredericka Adeola Schwarz.

1. Do you remember your first days at the Institute of African Studies in Leipzig? Would you please share your first impressions?

I had a good feeling from the start, because the professors gave us a really warm welcome. The “hierarchies” were very flat from the start. Since I had already completed another study program, which was rather anonymous, I noticed that to my liking. However, the event during the first week I remember most is the meeting with the African Studies Forum. It was a very long and beautiful evening. This is where I got in touch with people from more advanced semesters and shortly afterwards, I became a member of the forum myself.

2. Have you ever doubted your decision to study African Studies? If so, how did you deal with it?

I have never regretted my choice, of course. It was a very conscious decision to do another BA degree instead of an MA. It was important for me to give myself enough time to read up on certain topics. Another priority for me was to learn an African. In retrospect, I would say that it was the best decision, because throughout my studies I was able to deal with many discourses, which ultimately made me a better person.

3. To what extend did studying African Studies in Leipzig shape your current professional activity? Is there a connection between your studies and your job?

A lot! African Studies gave me the opportunity to pursue my interest in various topics related to Africa and also enabled me to get a head start professionally. I am particularly interested in German Africa policy, so, I took advantage of the fact that the program in Leipzig focuses on economics and politics in Africa.

4. Do you have any advice for current students?

Don't be afraid to ask the professors any question. Take the opportunity and attend their consultation hours. And: Please take advantage of the opportunity and participate in the roundtables once a semester. This is where you can anonymously pass on criticism, which the student representatives will forward directly to the institute’s staff. Furthermore, I recommend to go abroad (study / internship). You will not regret it. There are funding programs such as Erasmus or PROMOS, which are financed by the DAAD. That is how I was able to go to the University of Dar es Salaam.

 

Personal details:
Surname, Name: Fabian, Daniel
Degree: BA Afrikastudien
Year of graduation: 2021
Current employer / position : looking for a job (recently: project assistant at Deutsche Afrika–Stiftung)

1. Do you remember your first days at the Institute of African Studies in Leipzig? Would you please share your first impressions?

My studies in Leipzig were planned and, yet, unplanned. In 1996, I came to Germany to study in Bremen and had a brief conversation with Prof. Kappel, who had just accepted a professorship in Leipzig. I told him that I would like to write a PhD thesis and right after my graduation there was the possibility to do a PhD in Leipzig with Prof. Kappel. He remembered me and so I came to Leipzig in 1998 to do my PhD with the SEPT program. My first impression was particularly shaped by the people, the enthusiasm and camaraderie, the friendliness and openness and, of course, the professional expertise of the staff members. Also, professor Kappel is a great person and a mentor to me.

2. To what extend did studying African Studies in Leipzig shape your current professional activity? Is there a connection between your studies and your job?

For me, the question of what I could do after my studies was always very important. Through the interdisciplinary approach at the institute in Leipzig I had the opportunity to search and find my own position and that was a great experience. It helped me a lot when I got a job in Toronto at the School of Business at Niagara College. This experience with interdisciplinarity in Leipzig allowed me to comfortably navigate many economic, linguistic, cultural discourses.

3. Do you have any advice for current students?

Look for challenges and don't limit yourself! Spread your wings! This will take you to places you never thought of. My openness to challenges brought me to Leipzig back then and now, to Canada, and I'm very glad about that.

1. Do you remember your first days at the Institute of African Studies in Leipzig? Would you please share your first impressions?

In 1997, the Institute for African Studies was located on the 22nd floor of the "Weisheitszahn", which came along with animpressive view over Leipzig. During the first days, I was fascinated by the familiar atmosphere in the institute. The lecturers were always approachable and I met a lot of like-minded people, who had been to Africa before. That was an eye-opener!

In preparation for the Christmas party at the Institute, Professor Adam Jones cast a small choir to perform Nkosi Sikelel'iAfrika. This is how the first African Studies choir lead by Maja Dreyer (now Maja Braun) came into being. We had a great time and many performances at the Moritzbastei, for instance.

2. Have you ever doubted your decision to study African Studies? If so, how did you deal with it?

I never doubted studying African Studies. Not a single day. I would make the same choice again today. As an Africanist you are somehow exotic, however, with this special education you can always find an interesting professional niche. The staff at the Institute of African Studies was also a wonderful mixture, which enriched me as a person: Mrs. Große, so unique, always friendly and helpful, called "Bi Mkubwa" by Abdilatif Abdalla. Professor Jones, who is a bit of an oddball, who impressed with a wonderful sense of humor and made an appearance with a long elephant trunk at the student picnic in the park. Professor Kappel, who was easy-going, at the same time incredible professional and always up to date on the African economy. Professor Wolf, who patiently took time on the phone to advise prospective students. And Abdilatif Abdalla, who was always-smiling and his story and attitude towards life fascinates me up until today.

3. To what extend did studying African Studies in Leipzig shape your current professional activity? Is there a connection between your studies and your job?

My professional activity always had something to do with African Studies — fortunately! First, I was able to work with the GIZ in Ethiopia, afterwards, I worked in the church development service at the largest German Protestant mission organization for 10 years. Until today, I benefit from what I learned during my studies. Prof. Jones' introduction to African Art, for example. Plus, I was able to use my master's thesis on coffee value chains in fair trade supervised by Prof. Kappel years after it was written.

4. Do you have any advice for current students?

Congratulation to your choice of studies! Hang in there, do exactly what you love and what fascinates you. African Studies is by no means a non–lucrative art, but a stepping stone into a wide variety of exciting careers. Keep it up, travel a lot, and learn French!

 

Personal details:
Surname, Name: Jäger Kristin
Degree: Magister Afrikanistik (HF), Journalistik (HF), Deutsch als Fremdsprache (NF)
Year of graduation: 2003
Current employer / position : Vereinte Evangelische Mission (VEM), Deputy Head of the Africa Department, currently on parental leave

5 o'clock creativity is an internationally active film production collective, founded in 2014 by African Studies student Yann Labry. It produces promotional and informational videos as well as short and feature films.

With the support of the Institute for African Studies, 5 o'clock creativity co-produced the feature film Maisha, Maisha Tu. The project was conceived during a five month internship at the film production company Game 1st Quality Tz LTD in Dar Salaam (Tanzania) in 2015. As a result, 5 o'clock creativity established a close relationship with Game 1st Quality, the leading film production company in Tanzania, as well as many prominent Tanzanian actors. More projects are planned.

In addition, 5 o'clock creativity conducted two short film projects in cooperation with the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) in Cagliari (Sardegna, Italy). Furthermore, 5 o'clock creativity produced the informational clip Warum Afrikastudien an der Universität Leipzig studieren? The clip helps beginning students with their orientation at the Institute for African Studies at the University of Leipzig.
More projects are already in the works. Because film as a medium is a good way facilitate international exchange, 5 o'clock creativity will continue to engage in international and transnational productions.

Akwaba Afrika is a Leipzig based tourism company that has been founded by former students of the Institute for African Studies, David Heidler and Johannes Soeder, in 2014. The company specializes on sustainable and individual travel on the African continent and covers a broad range of destinations as well as travel themes.

The company stands out from other actors in tourism that are operating in Africa first and foremost by its sustainability approach, which it sees as a multi-dimensional process to be constantly improved. The company is constantly working to create a sustainable and respectful tourism fostering a responsible interaction with natural and cultural resources as well as aiming to strengthen local economies and reduce social inequalities.

The company focusses on private tours instead of group package tours, therefore offering people interested in Africa tailor-made travel solutions that enable tourists to experience intense and unique encounters in a way that regular package tourism can not provide. To give as many people as possible an insight into the diverse beauty of the African continent and by doing that to promote cultural understanding and reduce prejudices is one of the main motivations of Akwaba Afrika.

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