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I Began as a Smuggler
At the age of 22, I smuggled theological books from Switzerland to Romania with my girlfriend (now my wife since 42 years) in her car. I was a member of the group “Books Aid” of the theological students in Basel. The communist, atheist country did not allow the import of any religious books. We passed two dangerous border, namely Hungary and then Romania (with God’s grace without bribes) and delivered the books to a pastor. This was more than just sharing books, it was a protest against ideological limitations on the access to knowledge and a little contribution to justice by a little theology student.
At the age of 24, I bought a newly published book titled “God in Africa”, for my studies in Nairobi/Kenya. After arriving in Africa I was shocked to discover that my student peers in Kenya could not afford to buy it, even though it was written by a famous Kenyan author, John Mbiti, now a friend of Globethics.net. Why do I have access to African knowledge and Africans not? I left my copy for my Kenyan friends. A little cry for more justice to overcome colonial injustice.
During my 40s and 50s, while teaching in universities in Africa and Asia, I always carried in my luggage books for their libraries because they often did and do not have the money to subscribe to new books and journals, circumstances which unfortunatly left the students and teachers with outdated resources. A modest effort to correct economic injustices and inequalities.
But all these efforts have been too small to change the world. But in 2004 I founded the Globethics.net foundation and discovering the opportunities of the Information and Communication Technologies for the sake of development (ICT4D), we as global community launched the Globethics.net online library with now over 5 million full text documents downloadable for free and the publications library with over 130 books. It makes me proud and humble that we can now, as of August 2017, celebrate particular a milestone: that the Globethics publications [www.globethics.net/publications] have been downloaded over 1 million times! This is a modest but growing contribution to justice through fairer access to knowledge and education—a great thank to all authors and especially to the Managing Editor of these books, Dr. Ignace Haaz and his team.
All this, in fact, did not start by smuggling, but with a valuable education given by my parents, who practiced from my childhood the value of sharing what we have or at least part of it.
President and Founder of Globethics.net