The African With Two PhDs who Could Never Become a Professor in Berlin

Prof. Dr. Dr. Prince Alexandre Kum’a Ndumbe III

Prof. Dr. Dr. Prince Alexandre Kum’a Ndumbe III born in 1946 a Cameroonian prince who had lived in Germany for over 50years finally packed his bags to return to his home country, siting that Germany hadn’t welcomed him enough to want him to stay. He had tolerated living here for years, until recently when he received his pension, a mere €380. Then he was ready to return home to Cameroon, where he felt he’d be more accepted than he had been in Berlin.

The crown prince and author of twenty books and over 30 publications, got his Abitur in München before proceeding to study at the University of Lyon in France where he successfully graduated with two doctorates in History and German studies. In 1989, he did his habilitation at the Free University of Berlin. Unfortunately, this didn’t garner him a Professor position. He joined the Otto-Suhr-Institut (OSI) still at the Uni in Berlin but this institute was shut down in 2002. “From then on, suddenly all the doors in Berlin and Germany were systematically blocked for me”, Prince Kum’a told the Tagespiegel.

Since then, Prince Kum’a never got another job. He started the famous AfricaVenir organisation that has been instrumental in educating the masses. He was also instrumental in demanding from the German government that artefacts that had been stolen from Douala be returned back to Cameroon. The artefacts that included a bow that was stolen by the Imperial army in 1884, right after the Scramble for Africa conference in Berlin, when they raided the home of the traditional ruler then that was Prince Kum’a’s grandfather. Kum’a’s grandfather, the King at the time had refused to sign a treaty with the Germans who wanted to take over his kingdom. Kum’a fought for the artefacts to be returned to his people, but the Germans refused. The artefacts are exhibited at the Munich Ethnological Museum (Münchner Völkerkundemuseum).

Early November this year, Kum’a decided he had had enough and wanted to return to his home country. Before he left, he sent a letter to the current mayor of Berlin, Wowereit. In which he requested that the mayor should ensure “sustainable promotion of tolerance, diversity, interculturalism and peaceful coexistence” within schools, Universities and other educational institutions. He also mentioned that, “It was perhaps a mistake that I had thought to remain as an African in Berlin and get involved as a writer, professor, researcher and an integral part of the society.”

Some readers online, interpreted the article as a complaint of Prince Kum’a against racism, which many came out strongly to dispute.

He did his habilitation when he was 43years old. It’s completely normal after the habilitation to work for a few years “Galeerenjahre” before appointment as substitute or associate professor. Kum’a was older than the average age 41.1. After the Galeerenjahre, he must have been close to 50, after which one can only be appointed to professor in only special circumstances e.g. a course that requires many years of training and amazing qualifications from the applicant e.g. an internationally renowned scientist.

Personally, I know some scientists who have failed on the way to a professorship despite a lower age during habilitation and having the best qualifications. Fact is that the German higher education system lures cheap wage slaves with a “professorial” title by recruiting them on temporary contracts (with contracts, which are just long enough so there’s no claim for a arise). This is in the case in technical subjects and it is even more extreme in the humanities and social sciences.

That someone who is above average age fails in finding a permanent job and works in a field where universities generally cut on when they need to save money, unfortunately, that is the norm (regardless of gender or skin colour).”

“Once again the Tagesspiegel airs an article that wants to present the German majority as ignorant and racist. Although unspoken, this is exactly the accusation implied by the article. The position at the OSI was only eliminated “as an excuse” – as if cuts to Berlin universities would otherwise never happen. Scandalous that his expertise was feared so much that he could get no professorship in Germany but neither did he get one anywhere else in the world, did he?

Does the author have an idea of ​​how many thousands of other skilled and talented do a habilitation in Germany never become professors?”

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