Amb. Domitille Barancira (Former Ambassador of Burundi to Germany)

11.03.2010 - Interview conducted By Yuri Sonderberg

What do you think of the intercultural exchange between Europe and Africa; should they have more cultural exchanges?

Yes, I think it is always good to learn from each other. If we do not exchange, we will never find out who the “others” are.  So I think that cultural exchanges are really important and welcomed on each side. From the African side we will know what Europe is and what its culture is. Indeed, I think we will never get to know a society and its people if we do not know their culture. Of course in Africa we learned about European culture because we learned European history and geography. Nevertheless, we did not all learn the same things. So I think it is interesting to know Europe in its culture and it is also important for Europe to know Africa.

We often see Africa as a single entity, but Africa is diverse. Africa is compiled of Burundi, South Africa, North Africa, West Africa, etc. and we all have our own different cultures. How can you learn about Burundi, if you do not know what we think, what we eat, how we sleep, what our values are, how solidarity exists in our country; therefore I think cultural understanding is essential. Globalization is not only about economics but also about culture, and getting to know each other. With a better understanding of each other’s culture, we will tend to an economic globalization.

Do you think there are currently enough intercultural programs between Africa and Europe?

There are some. It depends on the country because it is always a question of bilateral exchanges. Germany, for example, could have many exchanges with some African countries but few with others. But as a general rule, we cannot assume that Europe knows Africa and that Africa knows Europe. I think we have to try to intensify those exchanges for a better understanding of each other.