Kent Eriksson

“I began to work at NAI when l was 18 years old, in February 1973. When my retirement comes, l will have served 45 years at the institute. Back then, the office work was different. Everything was carried out manually, this was even before the copy machines. Now, things run much smoother, researchers have their presentations on a memory stick and l don’t need to spend the weekend before conferences in the printing room. But at times l miss the craftsmanship of doing things the old way.

In 1980, I and three colleagues from the administration staff were sent to Kenya on a study trip. The idea was that staff who did not travel in their work would get a chance to experience Africa. And it really gave me a motivation boost at work back home afterwards. It was also the very first time l was outside of Sweden. Of course it was an adventure.
Quite often, we have received high profile guests, such as presidents of African countries and the Swedish Royal Family. I enjoy those full throttle events, they stick out from the ordinary work-days. More than once agents of the Swedish secret police have asked me about emergency exits as part of their plan for fast evacuation. In March 2006, the Royal Family and President Festus Mogae of Botswana visited NAI. I was helping the security personnel and was in charge of the entrance door. It was one of the few occasions l wore a suit at work. I guess that’s why President Mogae approached me first and shook my hand, believing l was the Institute’s director”.

Kent Eriksson, Office Caretaker at the Nordic Africa Institute

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