Atakilte Beyene

Atakilte Beyene, photo by Johan Sävström.

”I grew up in northern Ethiopia which is a beautiful place and famous for its mountains. That is probably why l developed such an interest in nature and decided to study at the Haramaya Agricultural University in Ethiopia. When l was 25 years old, l got a scholarship to do my masters studies at SLU in Uppsala, the largest agricultural university in Sweden. I later continued to do my PhD-thesis there. We were a group of at least 15 PhD-students from all over the world. The discussions we had, about everything between heaven and earth, really opened up my mind to other influences. Before, I focused strictly on the discipline of forestry. The multicultural atmosphere at SLU gave insights about politics, culture and economy – how everything is interlinked and have impact on nature and the environment – which has helped me a lot in my further research.

In Sweden l took an interest in orienteering. Mainly because my wife was already practicing it, but also because it was such a perfect pastime for someone educated in forestry since you already know how to use the compass, read maps, and understand terrains. And those are the basics in orienteering. All five of us in the family spend most weekends during the summer months participating in various competitions. It has given me an opportunity to explore a big part of Sweden which l really appreciate. At one occasion, however, in a competition in Gotland, the largest island in Sweden, I just couldn’t find one of the control points. Stubborn as l am l refused to give up and continued searching for the control. I got disoriented and spent hours running from one direction to another, and it was almost getting late by the time I reached the finishing line -  the organizers were just about to start a search party for me. I have now learnt that sometimes it is better to let go and move on”.

Atakilte Beyene researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute

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