2016-sommerschool_elias_campus-walkHier lesen Sie den Bericht unseres Stipendiaten Elias Muhatia über seine Eindrücke, die er während seines sechswöchigen Aufenthaltes in Deutschland sammelte.
Elias wurde im August 2016 zusammen mit Amos Maranga und Victor Okoth Odhiambo von Bildung fördert Entwicklung e.V. zum Internationalen Ferienkurs der Universität Trier eingeladen. Im Anschluss erfolgte noch eine kurze Studienreise mit unserem Vorsitzenden Dr. J.M. Nebe in die deutsche Hauptstadt nach Berlin, um dort v.a. entwicklungspolitische Institutionen kennenzulernen, aber auch noch mehr über unser Land und seine Geschichte zu erfahren.


Amos Maranga, Victor Okoth and I were greatly humbled for the chance offered to be part of the August International Summer School at the University of Trier. This special journey will forever remain deep in our memories. There was a different feeling the moment we touched down at Frankfurt International airport on the 1st of August. Very orderly environment with tight security, at the same time very friendly security guards who made us feel welcomed. We were well received by Dr Johannes Michael Nebe, well known as Mbuyu (slang for Dad) by most young Kenyans who have had experiences with him. His work in Kenya can be well described in a 2000 page book rather than in a paragraph of this article.

All the way from airport to the University of Trier a distance of about 200km, we had a different feeling of being far away from Kenya; the true meaning of a country with about 1/3 forest cover was seen. Planting and maintaining of forests has been given priority. Making more inquiries on it, we were told planting of trees is organized by communities. It was so impressive to see even some bridges along the highway and rooftops having trees. We felt the true feeling of a green environment with fresh air. This idea will surely be borrowed and implemented in Kenya as long as we are alive.

The reception at the University of Trier for the summer school was so impressive. It made us be eager waiting for German classes. However, the next day was meant for a test in order to classify all participants who had travelled from more than forty countries into relevant groups. Of course there were those who had studied German language for more than two years while some of us were totally beginners in this foreign language. The Deutsch classes from the third day were very interesting. Our class which was classified as Group Beginners Class comprised of thirteen students of seven different Nationalities. It was very interesting for all of us to be under the same roof with common purpose of learning German language. The tutor made sure every individual understood before proceeding to the next lesson. This is quite different from the society I grew up in where some teachers care less about the slow learners. Teachers always move on with students who grasp concepts quickly.

German language course for beginners

German language course for beginners

Furthermore, the German classes were made better by having a one and half extra hour meant for conversations and discussions. This simplified our grasp of new vocabularies already covered in normal classes. It was good to know that learning a new language involves more than just attending daily classes.

Besides the intensive classes during the week, there were planned trips to Luxembourg and the city of Metz in France. Such trips enabled us to learn a lot of history associated with European countries, which have such a rich history that has enabled them to have a strong foundation for development. I will pick the example of Luxembourg, a small country between Germany, France and Belgium. In mid 19th century before the development of steel industry, Luxembourg was a poor country to the point where people were driven by the hope of getting better life in other countries. It was known for large number of emigration as people moved in search of better lives economically. However, since the end of the 19th century, many people moved to Luxembourg as a result of the discovery of iron ore and the starting industrialization. The country’s current population is comprised of almost 46% non-Luxembourgers. It is therefore an immigration country that was once known for emigration. Similar comparison can be made to Kenya and some of African countries in order to derive relevant lessons. Most people believe better economical lives are far away from home country. We fail to understand that we can use the available resources to make our country and continent better.

In front of a remant of the Berlin Wall

In front of a remant of the Berlin Wall

A special trip to Berlin organized by Mr Nebe was the peak of our visit to Europe. I had the actual picture of what it meant a divided Germany. The country that one time had been divided to East and West because of politics. A three metre high wall with electric wire on top had separated families and friends. Those who tried to jump over were killed by automatic rifles strategically placed on the wall. I cannot imagine how such a political regime had divided people, denying them of right to movement and association. At this point I remembered that some countries in Africa, Kenya included always have problems with transition of power. Tribal politics have always divided us to the point of killing fellow citizens. We lack the real concrete walls but have real divisions amongst ourselves.

A society without walls around homesteads! This is impossible for the affluent in some of our African countries. They feel insecure because the poor people in the neighborhood will cause disturbance. Occasionally, we have had concrete walls around homesteads falling on shanties in the neighborhood causing deaths especially during heavy down pours. For most of the places we visited while in Trier and even rural areas, I saw no wall or even electric fence around homestead. People live peacefully in communities leaving large portion of land for cultivation.

Besides learning of German language, another important lesson was to experience how people strictly practice life values and it has become the daily routine. I was so impressed to see how disciplined people were in the streets. Traffic lights are the determinants of when to cross and when to stop on the roads. Pedestrians will not cross the road even if there is no vehicle in the vicinity until it turns green. Same thing happens with motorists who will always wait until it is their time to go. This is not common in my own country where a very small fraction of both motorists and pedestrians observe traffic rules. People are always in hurry but at the end causing accidents.

Demonstration in Berlin, guarded by the police

Demonstration in Berlin, guarded by the police

It was my first time to learn the meaning of the word “police” (Polizei in German). The word Polizei has its origin in the ancient Greek word “polis” which is a term that is used to describe a tight-knit, small community of Greek citizens who agreed on certain rules and customs. The ancient Greek poleis (the plural of polis) are among the first recorded democratic governments in the world. The polis promotes the solidarity of the community. Therefore the police have to work for the good of all inhabitants. Police officers in my society are well known to be among the most corrupt public servants. They are sometimes associated with major assassination cases. It was striking to observe police guarded demonstrations in the streets of Berlin with no teargas and weapons.

In the glass dome on top of the German parliament

In the glass dome on top of the German parliament

Talk of values, a transparent parliament of Germany. The Parliament building is well designed with a section reserved for the public during sessions. Furthermore, the roof is transparent and people can watch the proceedings of the parliament from the rooftop. It is also possible to see the speech given by parliamentarians dating from as early as 1890 to date. This is so impressive when compared to our parliaments where often parliamentarians forget their duties of representing the general public and focus on self-interests of increasing their own salaries and allowances. As at July 2013, Kenyan Members of Parliament were ranked second globally in terms of payment. This is ridiculous compared to the level of development and the GDP of the country. My wish is the political leadership of Kenya to benchmark and learn from their German counterparts.

Another issue that is really striking to observe is the high rate of smoking in Germany. This is regardless of warning signs indicated all over (even on cigarette packets) that smoking is dangerous to human health. The warning signs indicating effects of smoking seem largely ignored by many, both young and old.

I will finalize my writing by saying something about the wonderful city and the whole region of Trier located along river Mosel. Trier has a very rich history that serves to attract so many tourists from all over the world. This is the city where Karl Marx, the great philosopher, sociologist and economist was born. We were impressed to visit the Karl-Marx-Haus (museum) and learn his history at first hand; information that we could only learn theoretically during sociology classes in the first year of University studies. It is known to be the oldest city in Germany and originated of the Roman Empire 2000 years ago. Very amazing land marks such as the Porta Nigra still stand strong in the city. The beautiful architecture of buildings in the city will also leave you wondering if they are really very old or constructed in recent years. The Mosel region is well known for production of wine and it was an amazing experience going for wine tasting. In addition, river Mosel is wonderfully maintained keeping the water clean hence allowing beautiful birds to occupy. There is a big contrast compared to rivers located in Nairobi which often act as dumping sites of all kind of wastes. Our rivers have been turned into valleys with black water that produce very bad smell.

We have a lot to do for our country Kenya. Thank you Germany for having me and the other two fellow students, lots of appreciation to the University of Trier for the big chance you offered us to be part of the Summer School. Thank you to Bildung fördert Entwicklung e.V. (Elimu Inayokuza Maendeleo, that is a registered society), no price can pay back what you are doing to Kenyans.

I am not able to write everything in this article but I will be keen to show my society that we can be better than we are. We can develope, too!

Elias Muhatia’s Summer 2016 Gallery