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I was born (1990) in Delft, Netherlands. After an initial attempt to join the military, I visited Uganda for the first time in 2011. It was also during this year that I co-founded the International Development Student Society (IDSS) with two Ugandan student leaders. Young and hopeful, it was our mission to contribute to the development of Africa with a backbone of students. We brought students together, and helped them to become agents of local development. It nurtured a strong passion for Africa and youth potential. After completing my bachelor International Studies (focus Africa) at Leiden University, I traveled for four months through Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The ancient city of Petra and the rich culture of Iran were inspirational.

Om my return in 2019, I started the MA African Studies and did a research internship for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). During this research internship, valuable friendships were forged with opposition leaders such as Bobi Wine, David Lewis Rubogonya, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, and Kizza Bessigye. I combined research to these leaders, with many semi-structured interviews among local youth. A specific type of youth, those that try to transform their social-political situations and I call ‘vanguards’, were the focus of my thesis. It was during this research internship and fieldwork that I realized my talent for strategic planning and ethnographic research. It has inspired me ever since. It is my mission to awaken the minds of African youth, and contribute to a more free, prosperous, and peaceful Africa.

© Copyright 2021 | Erik van der Zanden