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Kosmopolis Institute Publications Summer School Participant Weblog 2012

Summer School Participant Weblog 2012

On July 16th, the Kosmopolis Summer/Winter School 2012 in Bloemfontein, South Africa, began. The participants of this Winter School originate from South Africa, Uganda, India, Indonesia and the Netherlands. The Winter School staff requests each of the students to write a blog for this website, to voice their experiences during this intense and meaningful month. This page will be updated daily, when blog entries from the participants become available.

Responses can be sent via


Day 25: The bitter-sweet ending

By Masabata Gloria Mokgesi
During the winter school, due to the limited class times, everything passed on too quick, too rushed. But amongst the class memories, the one session which seemed to have stuck in my mind, is the session on stereotypes about how as different nations, stereotype each other. For me, it was amazing to see South Africa and my people in the eyes of others. It fascinated me to know that we are not so different from the rest of the world.


PDF fileIn the name of majority, forgotten of minority (PDF)

By Yulianthi Muthmainnah

Decentralization is an absolute pre-requisite for democracy that has been developing in Indonesia since the start of reformation era in 1998. Decentralization through regional autonomy, the gap between the people and their leaders is narrowed, so that the accessibility to and the accountability of all aspects of governance become more viable. But in practice, there is no guarantee that regional autonomy policy created be able to create more room for democracy but possible to produce discriminative regional policies that distract the state from its responsibilities to fulfil its citizens’ constitutional rights, especially women.


Day 24: Dial R for Reconciliation

By Josephine Nakimuli Kigozi

Reconciliation is the process of acknowledging the past with reciprocal willingness to tell the truth, apologize and forgive in order to rebuild a relationship through restoration of social and legal justice for the fulfillment of human dignity. A mouthful of words but if you have studied reconciliation and know how complex it is, I think a very satisfactory definition.

Day 23: Identity and Winter School in Bloemfontein

By Pallavi
On last Sunday many of my friends were going to church and some of them were wearing traditional Indian Saree, except for the color of their skin and hair, it was difficult to identify who was Indian and who was South African? Some of my friends who went to church were either not Christian or non-religious but they were equally excited to go to church. It was another incident which made me realize the existing similarity among us and nobody was even willing to look at differences which were hidden somewhere. In my opinion this identity is better than the identity we talk about in our texts or debates, because this identity was not directed towards isolation or separation but more towards acknowledgement and celebration.


Day 22: The final lap... Already?
By Besigye Joseph Bazirake

I have been through a journey of self-search and an opportunity to engage in open thought. Right now, as we work on our final group presentations, I see how connected I have become to my colleagues at the winter school. It just occurred to me that this final week of the winter school will end in blink so am already making mental preparations for life after the winter school!


Day 21: Pluralism effect and South Africa

By Ismail Thaniyullathil
Race based discrimination, oppression, and exploitation begun in what is now called South Africa with the arrival of Europeans. In India as well, due to the ‘divide and rule’ policy of Britain, unending communal tensions started with the arrival of British Colonizers. Gandhi and Mandela fought for a similar cause- that is to throw out the discriminating, dividing, and oppressing foreign rules from their mother lands.


The Pluralisme Effect (photo)
By Dot Vermeulen

Day 19: Feeling the burden and the QwaQwa experience

By Tobias Karsten
When we decided to call it a day we had an rather pleasant engagement with the police. And in this winterschool’s world of pluralism and development even the police seems to be polite and humble. Two female officers calmly explained that in the municipal of Clarens drinking in public is not allowed. We had to join them to the police office were we explained the motives of our remarkable behaviour.


Day 18: Engineering change through theories and tool kits
By Ajita Vidyarthi

I have often wondered whether theories can be translated into practice and lead to change in real life situations. Today’s session on pluralism tool kits was therefore particularly special as it helped me overcome many of my hesitations and introduced me to different ways of applying purely theoretical concepts to dynamic and evolving situations.


Day 17: Behind the scenes

By Dot Vermeulen
To me the most magical experience of all has been to observe how all our diversities unite when we become absorbed in certain activities. Once we are all tuned into the same wavelength there exists a quiet shared temporality bound by fingers swiftly moving over keyboards, pens scribbling, hands raised in agreement or appeal and consciousness aimed towards a mutual concern.


Day 15: The Soweto Journey

By Ruth Ochieng
This was the most humbling and painful moment of all the visits I had. The story of Hector Pieterson! Those of you who know what I am involved with may wander why, when for the last 15 years I have listened to stories that cause shivers in my body. The answer is simple, this was just a child, and a 13 year old child, is what I am talking about; getting shot for demonstrating against instructions in Afrikaans. I wondered if he even knew what all that meant.


Day 14: The journey to Johannesburg

By Gorreti Adongo
The entry coupon to the museum indicated that I was “white” and while I was contemplating on whether to give it back thinking it was an error, I realized that it was a random classification. This jogged my memory back to the days of racial discrimination in South Africa. So did it mean that I was to use the “white-only” entrance to the museum and see the kinds of discriminatory posters along my path?


Day 13: Contrasts

By Annemarte van Kruchten

How to fit the history of a country in one day? Last Saturday we were faced with this challenge to meet both South Africa’s past and present in just 24 hours. Usually we live in our ‘Winterschool bubble’, which mostly consists of our hostel, the institute, our classroom and occasionally the rest of the campus and the nearby shopping mall. Even though its small, it is a pluralistic utopia in which all nationalities, cultures, religions, ethnicities and skin-colors peacefully live, learn, and work together and develop bonds and friendships which hopefully will last a lifetime. However, even in this little paradise, the realities of South Africa did not go by unnoticed.


Day 10: Reconciliation and social justice

By Oliver Mutanga

As for the question of what or who needs reconciliation and healing? I think that the process should address human rights abuses and their root causes (socio-economic rights-land, property; civil and political rights. When some of the people perceived to be perpetrators of human rights violations continue to hold power/ are in strategic positions in a society, justice might be obstructed and this situation will call for restorative reconciliation.


Day 9: Conflicting identities

By Siti Rohmanatin Fitriani

I, within my institution, have significant power to influence sustainable development within my boarders. All the knowledge and ideas that we dealt with during the program untill now, evoked a lot inspiration within myself. When I go back to my country, I will try to use this inspiration as a basis for my work.


My heart note, daily activities in Bloemfontein

By Yulianti Muthmainnah
An elaborate reflection on the first week of the Winter School.


Day 8: The clash of civilization vs the clash of ignorance 
By Oliver Mutanga

The most criticized theory was Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations and other participants were insulted by his theory. Empirically, historically, logically, and ideologically his arguments are challenged. His success was in decorating the World map with colours of his distinct civilizations spots. There are no more distinct cultural boundaries e.g. no where would one find an Islamic civilization/ Western civilization? He omitted the interdependency and interaction of culture. I was left thinking that Edward W. Said was not wrong after all in responding to Huntington’s work with his work-Clash of the Ignorance.


Weekly reflection: Living with differences 

By Ruth Ochieng
An elaborate reflection on the first week of the Winter School.


Day 7: The pluralism recipe on integration and socialisation

By Tamar
Attention: if you start making this Pluralism Mix, do not be shocked when the mix evolves quickly, let it find its way but never store it in the fridge to cool down!


Day 5: It looks like orange
By Anil Chandrika
As part of my winter school experience, one of my course mate for this International Winter School bought a huge bag of Oranges, he was very happy that it had only cost him R14, (South Africa Rand currency) to buy more than 20 oranges. He was thrilled that ALL of us were going to have some ‘good oranges’. Just like other colleagues, I too had the opportunity of tasting the oranges, they looked very beautiful, very orange, healthy and looked so enticing and one would salivate by one gaze. When I finally cut open one of the beautiful oranges I was astonished … it did not have any seeds.


Day 4: Thought provocation. And light at this side of the chamber

By Besigye Joseph Bazirake

Being introduced to the Human Development theory and the capability approach this morning started my thought engines running.  It took me a while to conceptualize most of the discussions but the provocation on my wheels of reflection was a welcome shake-up.  The arguments of the human Development theory thesis seemed familiar; all the rosy capabilities of humanity and the disclaimer of human vulnerability. I was looking for the punch line… where is the functionality of such a theory? 


Day 3: What South Africa means to me

By Damairia Pakpahan

Indeed, dreams come true! Today is the 5th day I am in South Africa and the best thing is I can listen, shake hands and make a photo with Rev Desmond Tutu, one of the person that I have heard many times and read about his struggle. He said with his unique laughing which just come naturally (as he said he is easy to cry and to laugh) that if there is still poverty, can we say that we are one nation?


Day 2: Pluralism issues in our countries

By Josephine Nakimuli Kigozi

Are we that pluralistic that we cannot understand our identity? That is the question the Dutch team posed at the end of their discussion on the pluralism issues from their region. Day 2 promised to be another bang with the various countries participating in this year’s Pluralism and Development winter school teaming up in regional groups to present the two issues they consider to be more pluralistic in their countries.


Day 1: Cappuccino society: it is hard to be black in South Africa

By Khoirul Anam

I was amazed to hear an explanation from one of participants from South Africa that it is really hard for black people to live here in South Africa. Hem, me who thought that south Africa was the ‘heaven’ for black people, where black people could do everything they want to do came to realize that it is still hard for black people to live here just because they are ‘black’. Although it does not mean that white people always are the privileged.