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Kosmopolis Institute Publications Day 5: A Capability to Eat

Day 5: A Capability to Eat

It is already 8pm in Bloemfontein. But, it’s the same to me as midnight. Perhaps, I still have a jet lag, staying far away from my home country as far as a 5 hours gap. So sleepy I am. And it is already midnight in Yogyakarta, a city where my beloved wife and a cute little daughter live and are now sleeping peacefully.

I am in my room right here on the bed contemplating on a 12” screen to write something about 5th day’s experience. But, Frank told me that Caroline asked those who have a chance to blog on 5th day’s experience should also write on 4th day’ experience. Oh God, I don’t even know what to write. My roommate, Arsyad, is there sitting seriously on his chair. This film director enjoys the book “Religion in Development: Rewriting the Secular Script”, which he just borrowed from Henk.

All I deal with in the first few days is food, food and food. The first time, I ordered halal food. But, then it seems that there is a misconception about what kinds of food halal food is. All the halal food provided for me are apparently good, but I am just not familiar with the tastes. I think they are actually Arabic foods. Then I began to observe other food available on the table. I discovered that they are mostly halal, except –of course- pork. Finally, I gave up having halal food and asked the official to stop preparing halal food for me.

Still related to food, I missed rice so much. When halal food was served, I didn’t realize that at another place, right there on the table, abundant rice was served. So, when I started observing the menus on the table, I saw –wow- that’s rice. I was really very happy. Since then, when there was rice on the table, I couldn’t eat anything without rice.

On 4th day, when Jesse asked me whether I wanted halal food for dinner outside, I said no and explained him about this matter. It was fortunate for him not to provide halal food in a place where African traditional cuisine are served. The place for dinner was a final spot after we got around the city visiting Broer’s war museum, Vroue monument, Heidedal Township and passing by some housing areas.

After driving around and around, we arrived at a house. The sun was already unseen and it was getting cooler outside. We got in the house and sat in a room. Before having dinner, we were supposed to discuss about today’s excursion. It was firstly about the housing areas we had just passed by. It was not surprising for me that there are rich people having such large houses in one side, and poor people having very limited accommodation in another side. A rather disturbing fact is that there are people occupying government-owned land illegally and building semi permanent shelters without any access to water. Even worse, most are locally grouped according to their skin colors; black and white. This just reminds me that ethnic division in South Africa is still a sensitive issue. This fact was shocking me even from the first day I came to Bloemfontein.

The session then went on to discuss the museum. The museum is mostly about the Broer’s war. Even I think that the war is a very important –perhaps a pivotal- event in South African history, to my surprise, the discussion was heating. Unfortunately, I was really sleepy and it was just 7pm (remember, it’s already midnight in Jogja) and did not truly follow the flow. Finally, the discussion stopped and the dinner was ready. The last surprise of the night for me, the traditional cuisines are actually same as Javanese cuisines; the rice, the spinach, the chicken, the lamb, the beef….. Oh God, I was home here.


The following day, I came to the class with an expectation to learn about Amartya Sen and his capability’s approach. I had read his article on “Development as Capability Expansion”. But, I didn’t really get his points. Another article, “Capabilities as fundamental entitlements: Sen and Social Justice”, written by Martha Nussbaum seems to help me understand Sen’s and at the same time guides me to the more concrete forms of what human capabilities mean. We then watched a movie about women circumcision in Mali, followed by a small-groups’ discussion using Nussbaum’s ten Capabilities approach to criticize the movie.

At the final session of the day, we were separated into four groups of four or five people to plan small projects using four focus areas; identity, sustainable development, pluralism effect and reconciliation. We had been previously asked to choose one of the four focuses, but my decision hadn’t been made. All focuses seem interesting to me. So, when the groups were formed, I hesitantly decided to choose ‘identity’, while still thinking of what kind of issue I can elaborate.

Up until tonight, I am still having no idea about the project. There is no class tomorrow, but I should laundry my clothes.

Now, it is my time to sleep (it’s dawn in Jogja)

Good night.