Joël Fabrice Djaha – Six months in Basel: an enriching experience

Joël Fabrice Djaha

Joël Fabrice Djaha – Six months in Basel: an enriching experience

Joël Djaha
Joël Fabrice Djaha

On 14 February 2023, my stay in Basel began with a guided tour of Basel’s main landmarks, suitcase in hand, accompanied by Veit Arlt, the scientific coordinator of the Centre for African Studies at the University of Basel. The tour was on foot, but I realised that mobility in the city is suprisingly easy. There are regular buses, trams, and self-service bicycles.
This ease of getting around encouraged me to walk to the Centre for African Studies at the University of Basel, where I had my workplace. Inspired by the centre’s working environment, I went almost every day except Sundays. I reserved this day for community activities (church, outings and socialising with friends). On my way to the Centre for African Studies, I was a little suprised to see people swimming in the Rhine when the weather was nice.  When the first snow came, I understood why they took advantage of the warm, beautiful weather in summer and early autumn for this activity!

Basel: a quiet city, ideal for reflection… and I benefited from it

The silence that characterises the city of Basel inspired me to make great progress on my PhD thesis. The silence also allowed me to recharge my batteries and be inspired while writing, far away from the daily routine in Côte d’Ivoire and the difficulties of moving around in the city of Abidjan. I was pleasantly surprised by the silence; sometimes I could even hear my own footsteps as I walked. However, this silence was interrupted by a “noise” that showed me another side of Basel, a lively one.

Then came the Basel carnival: for me a symbol of intergenerational exchange

The silence I was enjoying was interrupted twice, for particular reasons. The first time, the silence gave way to the Vogel Gryff. I remember being deep in thought at the Centre for African Studies when I suddenly heard cannon shots. It was then that I remembered that 20 January 2024 is a special day for the people of Basel. I discovered for the first time how deeply rooted they are in tradition.

At the beginning of February 2024, a second event took place: die Basler Fasnacht. As rich as the Vogel Gryff, the carnival of Basel is a symbol of intergenerational sharing between adults and children beyond its colourful, musical, and other aspects. It was a premiere to see children sharing sweets with adults, while in other cultures the children ask for them.
As a enthusiastic photographer, I was able to capture the Basel carnival and the photos are magnificent! I enjoyed these moments so much that I decided to illustrate this blog post with a photo from the carnival.

An experience to relive

My stay in Basel was undoubtedly one of the best experiences of my life. Apart from the aspects related to my doctoral research, I immersed myself in a new culture (history, culture, cuisine), and I learnt a lot from this city at a crossroads. In my opinion, mobility from South to North should be strengthened in order to rethink the sharing of knowledge.

Words of thanks

At the end of this trip, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to its success. My special thanks go to the Fondation Oumou Dilly, the Centre for African Studies at the University of Basel and all the lovely people who helped to make my stay unforgettable.