Tania Berger

“In the 1980s my father worked in Mozambique and l visited him on several occasions. This was during the war, and we could hear bombs and shootings at night. When peace came in 1992, my younger sister and I decided to move to Mozambique and set up the first ice cream production in Pemba. We bought an industrial ice cream machine in Germany and shipped it in a big container together with used freezers and other equipment, even an old Volkswagen. The war had ruined everything in the country and there was nothing to buy. That is why we only had three ice cream flavors – the locally produced guava, mango and lemon. Later, we also sold some foodstuff. We had to make do with the products around – there was nothing in the shops. We even made ketchup and mayonnaise ourselves. Constant power failures made things very difficult. We brought two generators from Germany, but often there was no diesel anyway. Once, we were out of electricity for two weeks and we had to throw away all the stuff in the freezers. Even though times were tough, and we worked 24/7, it was one of the best periods in my life.

In 2011, the institute hosted the ECAS conference and l was responsible of coordinating the event. It gathered over 1 200 participants from 70 countries. The institute had never before arranged something of that magnitude. It was a huge workload. One of the biggest hassles was to plan the program. With so many researchers, and many were involved in several panels, it was my job to prevent any collisions in the program. The up side was that we could invite many researchers based in Africa, and l came to realize it was very important for them to attend the conference. I really liked meeting them face to face after months of e-mail correspondence”, Tania Berger, head of administration at the Nordic Africa Institute.

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