His Kerala connection begins in Gondar, the historical `City of God’ in Ethiopia, where he was born and brought up. He fondly remembers the surname of his English teacher, one Mr Joseph hailing from Kerala. Now, on his third visit to Kerala, Professor Mammo Muchie has embarked on a mission – to help set up an Indo-African Study Centre in the state. A leading exponent of African integration at Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa, the renowned social scientist says the institute will be based on the strikingly similar and profound value that delineates the very core of Indian and African principles.
“This is an opportunity to connect the African continent and the Indian subcontinent in a very special way – linking the Indian concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family) and Africa’s `Ubuntu’ (There’s an `I’ in `you’ and a `you’ in `I’),” Muchie says, talking on the side-lines of the `Know Africa’ lecture he delivered in the capital city on Monday.
The study centre, he says, can initially be a research institute and gradually it would evolve into a university.”There are many African studies centres in India, but the link is missing. We have to build the linkage in a systematic fashion, and it has to be a model of new relations, based on deep values that have originated from these two worlds,” he points out.
The centre can have branches or networks in both the continents, facilitating new learning and new scientific developments, `which could clean up the software in our heads, now full of colonial viruses that got infested during the pre and post-colonial eras’, he says. Muchie believes that simply following or mimicking the capitalistic logic creates poverty, unemployment and inequality. “The whole point is to urge India and Africa to use their humane and uniting values, which are civilizational rather than materialistic, for governance, institution and leadership building,” he says adding that the capitalist logic is narrow, calculative and selfish, thrust upon them (Indian and African cultures) by the colonial powers. He also emphasises upon the importance of restructuring the education system.
A visiting faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, Muchie, is also one of the founding board members of Globelics, the global research network, which works on innovations in economic development.