Reflections from London

Earlier toady, I witnessed the most beautiful act of loving kindness. I was sitting in a Victoria line train when a woman entered the coach and asked people to help her with some money. Clearly, the woman was not in a good state. She looked pale and exhausted.

The usual situation unfolded – one that is probably best described as collective neglect fused with individual embarassment about the same. No one turned one’s attention towards the woman. Some stared at the floor, others onto their phones. The ones with their 160 pounds Airpods pretended not having noticed the woman’s plea for help.

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“Fixing” Africa’s infrastructure: But at what price?

TIM ZAJONTZ, Pambazuka News

8,500,000,000,000 Ugandan Shilling. This is roughly the volume of a loan, which the Ugandan government currently negotiates with China’s state-owned Exim Bank. The sheer number of digits is impressive, even when converted in less inflationary currencies. The concessional loan of over US$2.3 billion is earmarked for the construction of 273 kilometres of rails between Kampala and Malaba at Uganda’s border with Kenya. The project constitutes the next stage of East Africa’s new standard gauge railway that is designed to link Mombasa at the Indian Ocean with Uganda’s capital and, if plans materialise, will extend to Juba, South Sudan and Kigali, Rwanda in the future. The first stretch of the line between Mombasa and Nairobi has been inaugurated in mid-2017 and celebrated as another milestone of Sino-African development cooperation.

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Cosmic Lottery

Zainab Magzoub writes about the ‘cosmic lottery’ she won as a refugee child.


When my mum informed me we would be relocated to Scotland at age nine, I wasn’t too happy. I hadn’t heard much about the country apart from it was very cold and that boys there wore ‘skirts’. Back home in Sudan, people refer to anywhere in the UK as London. I still frequently overhear in my mum’s conversation with friends and family in Sudan; ‘How’s life treating you in London?’ She has given up correcting them.

We arrived in the UK and claimed Asylum at the Croydon Home Office. Subsequently we were placed in a B&B in Margate for a month. Each day we would search for our names on the notice board to see if or when we were going to be taken to one of the dispersal cities. Luck of the draw found us on the eleven-hour coach trip to Glasgow. Looking back I feel both sympathy and admiration for my mum for making this journey with three young kids in tow and keeping an unwavering composure throughout. She had, after all, been through a lot worse.

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Africa’s transport infrastructure boom – empowering whom and for what purpose?

TIM ZAJONTZ, Invited talk at the 4th St Andrews Africa Summit, 24 February 2018, Hotel du Vin, St Andrews

Thanks for this warm introduction. As it was mentioned, my name is Tim Zajontz, I am a PhD student at the School of International Relations here in St. Andrews. I am also a research associate and guest lecturer at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, where I did my Master’s some years ago. I have been working in German politics as well as in the European Parliament, before I came back to University. My PhD research deals with the spatial political economy of the TAZARA Corridor, that economic space connecting landlocked Zambia with Tanzania’s port of Dar es Salaam. As you have heard, I am also the chairperson of a Germany-based, non-profit organisation called Freundeskreis Uganda which is partnering with social projects in Uganda.

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Vom Freiheits- zum Überlebenskampf

Die TAZARA auf der Suche nach der Erfolgsspur

TIM ZAJONTZ, Afrika Süd 1/2018

„Die Tazara von heute ist nicht mehr, was sie einmal war”, erklärt mir Robert (Namen geändert), den ich zufällig an einem Bahnübergang nahe Ishitu in Sambias Norden treffe. Er arbeitet seit 25 Jahren für das binationale Bahnunternehmen. Unsere Blicke richten sich auf die verrosteten Überbleibsel eines entgleisten Güterzuges. Mein Gesprächspartner berichtet, dass Entgleisungen in den vergangenen Jahren immer häufiger wurden, genauso wie teils monatelang ausbleibende Gehaltszahlungen für die 2.797 Tazara-Beschäftigten. Robert erinnert sich aber auch an die glorreichen Zeiten der „Uhuru Railway” – zu Deutsch: Freiheitsbahn. Continue reading “Vom Freiheits- zum Überlebenskampf”

Eine besondere Reise auf einem faszinierenden Kontinent

Von Süd- nach Ostafrika – im Krankenwagen

TIM ZAJONTZ, koi – Das neue Geislinger Stadtmagazin, Ausgabe 92, Januar 2018

Seit vielen Jahren zieht es mich regelmäßig auf den afrikanischen Kontinent. Meine letzte Reise von Kapstadt über Namibia, Sambia und Tansania nach Uganda unterscheid sich allerdings von vorherigen Trips. Ich hatte entschlossen, einen Forschungsaufenthalt im südlichen Afrika zu nutzen, um für den Geislinger Verein Freundeskreis Uganda e.V. ein Fahrzeug für dessen Partnerprojekt, die Musichimi-Klinik, zu überbringen. Und so fuhr ich in sieben Monaten vom südwestlichen Zipfel Afrikas bis zum Viktoriasee – in einem künftigen Krankenwagen. Continue reading “Eine besondere Reise auf einem faszinierenden Kontinent”

From the freedom struggle to a fight for economic survival – the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA)

TIM ZAJONTZ, St Andrews Africa Summit Review 3/2017

“The TAZARA of today is no longer what it used to be”, explains Robert (name altered) to me. I met him at a railway crossing not far from Ishitu in Zambia’s Northern Province. He has been working for the bi-national railway corporation for 25 years. We both gaze at the remains of a derailed cargo train. Robert reports that derailments have become more frequent in recent years, just like month-long non-payments of salaries to the 2,797 TAZARA employees. Yet, he also remembers the glory days of the “Uhuru Railway” – the Freedom Railway. Continue reading “From the freedom struggle to a fight for economic survival – the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA)”

The demise of the post-apartheid consensus and South Africa’s search for leadership

TIM ZAJONTZ, St Andrews Africa Summit Review 1/2017

The recent scenes of students clashing with riot police and private security forces on heavily securitised South African university campuses are emblematic for a nation in a desperate search for political orientation. They are also a pressing reminder of how fragile the post-apartheid political consensus to overcome a society built on coercion and violence actually is. It is the so called ‘born frees’, the generation of young South Africans that was born in a democratic republic, who most manifestly expose the country’s severe vulnerabilities: a blatant lack of moral leadership and governance failures that, if unaltered, allow for serious doubts about the survival of the ‘Rainbow Nation’s’ social contract. Continue reading “The demise of the post-apartheid consensus and South Africa’s search for leadership”

Ein spannendes Land unter Spannung


Reisen in Afrika ist nicht immer komfortabel, vor allem wenn man auf öffentliche Verkehrsmittel angewiesen ist. Busse und Minibus-Taxis sind voll – mit Personen, manchmal Ziegen und Hühnern, sowie unendlichen Mengen an Gütern und Gepäck. Es ist heiß, staubig und eng. Die Straßen sind über lange Strecken lediglich mit Schlaglöchern besäte Pisten. Dennoch ist jede Fahrt ein Erlebnis und als Weißer – oder „Mzungu“, wie einen die Locals in Ostafrika nennen – ist man stets eine Attraktion und automatisch in viele Gespräche verwickelt. So habe ich die letzten sechs Wochen meinen Weg vom tansanischen Dar es Salaam über die Insel Sansibar, Kenias Küstenregion, die Insel Lamu und Nairobi nach Uganda gemacht. Continue reading “Ein spannendes Land unter Spannung”