Language Talent, Social Entrepreneur and BIGSAS Junior Fellow – meet Thierry Boudjekeu

Thierry has now been a BIGSAS Junior Fellow since December 2019, but Bayreuth is not a new place for him. He came to Germany for his Master’s degree in 2015.

I really like Bayreuth as a study environment, because of the international space.

The University of Bayreuth and all the opportunities in Germany have been enriching to him. He graduated in 2018, after completing an exciting internship at the UN in Bonn. He volunteered for organisations such as Engagement Global and worked for the German Cooperation back in his home country Cameroon, where he explored what is there for him. After all, his studies and life in Bayreuth changed him: I am a new Cameroonian in a way.

As an ambitious translator and literary scholar, the Cluster of Excellence: Africa Multiple in Bayreuth opened up an opportunity for a doctoral degree on the slave trade memory in Francophone Africa. A topic that has intrigued him for many years and which is increasingly becoming the focus of scientific and public attention.

I had the opportunity to go back to my bucket list and get this slavery issue that was always haunting me – it is something we do not really talk about in Francophone Africa, whereas there is a lot to say about this painful past and the significant consequences that the slave trade still has in Africa today. My research journey starts with the doctoral position within the project “Black Atlantic revisited” of the Cluster.

He enthusiastically describes the networks, the academic structure and the opportunities in Bayreuth.

I am in the midst of people who are also in African studies, I am in the midst of experienced researchers, BIGSAS Alumni for example, and I have the opportunity to leverage their own experience, and learn from them.

His project entitled “Writing the Slave Trade Trauma in Francophone Africa: An Analysis of selected Novels”, which is also part of the above-mentioned project, creates challenging dimensions to which Thierry intends to dedicate growing attention in the years to come. For him, the PhD is not just “full-time job”, but an opportunity to explore a highly traumatic aspect of African history with a focus on the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. He focuses on contemporary African novelists who brought this concern to the fore, namely Leonora Miano, Kangni Alem and Wilfried N’Sonde to name a few. Thierry’s project is charged with emotion.

It is an immensely important chapter that needs to be dredged up in order to hear the voices of the disappeared, pray for the deported, mourn the dead, achieve healing and gain back African self-consciousness darkened and shadowed by the forgotten, Thierry says.

Thierry Boudjekeu, Junior Fellow at BIGSAS

What sounds ambitious can certainly be implemented. Whether in a dissertation, in a work group in Bayreuth or in an entire worldwide network – the world should get ready for a new orientation of African science and science on and with Africa. The University of Bayreuth, with its affiliated BIGSAS and the Cluster of Excellence: Africa Multiple, offers an academic space that is nowhere else to be found. A space where exchange takes place, not only on a scientific level. Bayreuth is an international hub with connections to the whole world.

In addition to his academic work, Thierry dedicates himself to other initiatives. As a former president of the Model African Union e.V., raising awareness and discussing “African” challenges with international students is particularly important to him. He is always committed to meeting young activists, academics, decision-makers and African conference participants. As an experienced French Translator and Social entrepreneur, Thierry owns a translation company – With his company he contributes to a globalised world which is day by day growing closer together. His love for languages took him to Ukraine, where he learned Russian. He is also an amateur classical singer in his spare time.


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