One of this academic year’s British funded Chevening scholars, George Kasakula, on Monday literally raised the Malawi flag when he gave a day-long talk on diverse Africa in general and Malawi in particular at St Theresa Catholic Primary School in Leeds, UK.
This was part of an African Voices project that Leeds University, where Kasakula is currently studying for an MA in Communication and International Journalism after he was awarded the scholarship last year.
Kasakula, an editor at Malawi’s influential Weekend Nation, used the talk to dispel misconceptions that people in Britain have about Africa.
“It was a privilege for me to talk to 10 year-olds about my country and Africa in general,” said Kasukula in an interview with Nyasa Times from Leeds, UK.
“The level of ignorance about Africa caused by the Western media is astounding. Many people here believe Africa is one whole country all infested with disease, hunger and tribal wars.
“After talking to the kids, it was clear that they had such conceptions initially. They were surprised when I showed them slides of some iconic buildings in Blantyre and Lilongwe. They expected to see only shacks, I suppose,” Kasakula, ‘My Diary’ columnist said.
Coordinator of the African Voices project at Leeds University, Dr Richard Borowski, said the project was mooted by the institution’s interdisciplinary Leeds Centres for African Studies ten years ago with view to see how it can engage schools around the university more widely using postgraduate students to dispel misconceptions people have about Africa.
“Research has shown that the presence of somebody from Africa is probably the most effective way of challenging the misconceptions about the continent. All sources of information that pupils have about Africa are second hand and often distorted but these African postgraduate students give them first-hand information hence the project,” said Borowski.
Kasakula is among 10 postgraduate students that the project identified, trained and now sends to various schools to deliver what have now come to be known as African Voices days in schools around the city.