The idea for Think Africa started from the same acknowledgement that set the birth ground for Helsinki Think Company: university students and researchers tend to have great ideas and thoughts but those are rarely tested or put into practice. At the same time people from other faculties or completely outside the university may have just the lacking experience / knowledge that could turn this potential into reality – and vice versa. The idea behind Think Co and Think Africa is to blend people from various backgrounds, let them challenge and learn from each other – and possibly create something completely new.
So we, students with mutual interest towards development and Africa, decided to organize a week where actors from different backgrounds, yet common curiosity towards the continent and its’ people, would blend together, exchange knowledge, experiences and thoughts and, who knows, maybe even build teams and create ideas never seen before.
Another goal was to update people’s images about Africa. The parts that we have lived, worked, collected data and/or traveled in, are a lot more diverse than the common media image lets us believe. Therefore, we wanted to bring some depth and width to peoples’ mindsets about “the lost continent”, and show that Africa is far more than just poverty or constant struggle. To us it is more about creativity, hybridity and unused potential. Like our opening speaker Iina Soiri, the head of Nordic Africa Institute, has pointed out: “It is time to stop feeling sorry for Africa.”
As a final remark we would have to underline that Africa is no single entity – there is a big difference between Cairo and Kampala. We could say Think Africa Week’s events are mostly about Sub-Saharan Africa but some lessons learned in the south may (or may not) work in the north just as well – so why should we?
See you in October!