Diversity, whether cultural, geographic or inter-generational is a fluid concept. For some people it remains a cost, for others, it is what makes life truly vibrant. Being African is unique in the misconceptions and to some degree mystery that a lot of people attach to our continent, its people and almost always the history that has shaped the present but does not define the future. Consequently, the 2018 INSEAD Africa Week provided an opportunity to drive awareness where possible and to educate our community of fellow INSEADers about who we are and where we come from. Naturally, this also provided a rare opportunity to celebrate our rich heritage with our community of friends and classmates from all across the world.
Underpinning our humanity is the foundation of African philosophy, not least of which is captured by the Ubuntu concept:
“I am because we are”
Too often, the narrative on our continent is around the challenges and issues in Africa. But like any other region, we are a collective of many different cultures (and sub-cultures) who ultimately seek to not simply exist but to truly live. The vibrancy, energy and promise of our heritage ultimately drove the efforts undertaken to make the 19th to 23rd of November a uniquely African experience at INSEAD. From having flags from across the region displayed at Freddie’s, an exhibition depicting and describing unique stories from the continent, to having a live African band perform during our Monday lunch break, course integration of African cases wherever possible, an African party and dinner (with folklore and poetry from the continent), to a Q&A session with a professional working on infrastructure investments on the continent, we sought to educate and inspire a shift in views towards a place so many of us call home.
Africa, and having a strong contingent of Africans at INSEAD (or any other global institution) is more than a story about the diversity of color. It is an expression of the growth and possibilities that remain in a world which will have no choice but to embrace emerging and developing countries as future global growth becomes more and more reliant on these nations. Surface level appreciation of this will no longer be enough. Diversity is complex, but change is the only constant. So many aspects of culture (whether musical or artistic), sport, economic and political outcomes have been shaped by Africans. Our story remains a story that will continue to be told.