N'Golo Konare: ‘In Germany I liked how people with a disability are encouraged’
Name: N'Golo Konare
Lives in: Bamako, Mali
Period in Germany: 2002-2003 on a DAAD scholarship
Educational institute: Philipps-Universität, Marburg
Job: German teacher
I am blind and I work as a language teacher at the national language centre of the Ministry of Education. My task as a training assistant is to teach Malian soldiers about the German language and culture. These soldiers receive a grant from the German army and obtain their initial language training at our institute.
‘In Germany I learned to stand on my own two feet’
My country had no institutions for disabled people. At school we had to learn the same lessons as the other children and do everything just like them. That forced many of us to stop going to school.
In Germany I liked how people with a disability are treated and encouraged. In Mali disabled people are at a disadvantage. In Germany I learned to stand on my own two feet and not simply to wait for help from others. Contacts with other disabled people at the college for the blind have shown me how I can manage my own life.
People in Germany tolerate one another despite their differences. However, it’s generally not easy to make contact at the beginning: many Germans are reserved if they don’t know you. In Mali you can greet a stranger in the street. I think the Germans are very suspicious, but when they have got to know you they open up. But apart from that, I find it good that Germany pays attention to the environment and is a very clean country.
‘My aim is to set up a secretariat to help disabled learners’
I am planning to apply the things I learned in Germany here, in Mali, and I have been trying for some years to found a secretariat for disabled students at the university. Unfortunately, the university infrastructure here is not geared to the needs of disabled people. My aim is to set up a secretariat to help disabled learners. We want to give disabled people an opportunity to pursue their studies and obtain a degree. The office will focus on suitable infrastructures, everyday problems such as enrolment, advisory services and grants.
Setting up such a secretatariat has not been easy, because of the unstable political situation in Mali since 2012. A project like that needs stability. But in spite of all obstacles, I want to keep fighting for the rights of disabled people. Founding this secretariat will be a significant step towards supporting blind students in Mali and it can help to reduce prejudice against disabled people. But its success will depend on the state’s commitment to the issue of inclusion.
I have been the president of the association of alumni of Mali’s school for the blind. The association is mostly engaged in collecting donations to buy Braille-paper and other aids for blind people.
By the way, I am also a musician. I play the guitar, piano and recorder. In 1995, I won a music competition hosted by UNESCO. With the prize money, I bought musical instruments and founded an orchestra together with other disabled people. Music is very important for the development of the disabled.
N'Golo Konare on the Alumniportal Deutschland
In the Alumniportal Deutschland I would like to talk to others about cultural and intercultural issues. I am also interested in politics.
Update: Juni 2016