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Conversation with Uwe Michael Neumann on Travelling and Youth: Member, CIVIQ High IQ Society (1)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2021/05/08


Uwe Michael Neumann developed a love of photography when he got his first camera, a Polaroid, at the age of eight years old. From 1982 to 1988, Neumann diverted from photography, studying law at Cologne State University. But his love of photography, driven by curiosity and the desire to see new things and discover and show their beauty, always called him back. He conducted his first photo tour in Provence, France in 1992. In 1998 he visited New York where he further developed his photographic style; experimenting with verticals and keystone/perspectives. Launching into the field of international cooperation he combined his daily work with his photography in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Finland, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Sweden and Ukraine. In November 2014, Neumann attended the wedding of a daughter of the Sultan of Foumban, Princess Janina, in Foumban, north-west of Cameroon. There he met and became friends with the famous French photographer and producer, Alain Denis who inspired him to become a professional photographer, instructing him in portrait and landscape photography. After his life-changing visit to Cameroon in 2014 Neumann returned there in February 2015 taking photographs of Central Africa’s unique nature and everyday life, which differed greatly from Europe, and even tourist destinations in Africa like Kenya and the Republic of South Africa. During his stay in Central Africa, he lived in Yaoundé, Cameroon and travelled frequently to Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic, Gabon, Chad and Congo Brazzaville, among the poorest countries in the world. He also visited and photographed Algeria, Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), Benin, Kenya, Egypt, Mauretania and the Republic of South Africa. Neumann focused on often-overlooked treasures in nature, the environment, and beauty in places seemingly dominated by poverty. In October 2017, Neumann returned to Berlin and worked on over 90,000 photos from Africa, launching his first exhibition in May in ‘Animus Kunstgalerie’, Berlin. In October 2018 his exhibition ‘Inner Africa’ in GH 36 gallery in Berlin was focused on Central Africa displaying not only a huge variety of photographs, but also traditional masks from different regions. In 2019 and 2020, other exhibitions at Bülow90, Berlin and Nils Hanke, Berlin followed. In Ghent, Belgium, he was a speaker at the European Mensa Meeting 2019 on Africa and presented some of his works.  He was also invited to present his works in the online exhibition e-mERGING a r t i S T S. and again at GH36 in the exhibition No Time. One of his photos was on the title page of the Norwegian magazine Dyade in 2019. His photos have also been featured several times in the online Magazine Foto Minimal & Art. In December 2021 his works were part of an exhibition at Basel Art Center in Basel, Switzerland. He discusses: background, photography, Yaounde, and the high-IQ mental lifestyle.  

Keywords: Cameroon, IQ, photography, Uwe Michael Neumann, Yaounde.

Conversation with Uwe Michael Neumann on Travelling and Youth: Member, CIVIQ High IQ Society (1)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, we are here today with Uwe Michael Neumann. If individuals are in some of the High IQ communities and examine some of the biographical and online information, the one thing that comes straight to the fore, for me, is the extensive amount of travel that you’ve done, in terms of doing the photography. So, I guess my first question would be, did you travel very much as a youngster? When did visual arts, photography become very important for you?

Uwe Michael Neumann[1],[2]*: Yes. They became important for me. I was always a visual type. And I got my first camera, I think, when I was eight or so. That was a Polaroid, you could press the button and then the photo came out at the bottom of the camera. So, yes, I was not continuously doing photography, but from time to time. But I was always interested in that. So, yes, I was not so much travelling because my family was not particularly with the science, so to speak. The modest background, so, the only trouble we had was through Austria in the holidays mostly when I was a kid. And also, later as a student, I couldn’t afford travelling too much. So, actually, when I was studying law for five years, I couldn’t travel anywhere. I didn’t travel at all.

And so, when I made my first money, I started travelling to France and then I started at some point working in southeastern Europe. So, I very often took my camera with me. And I saw a lot of different small countries here, but they are quite different to Germany because they have been part of the Soviet bloc somehow. So, they have a different development. I was also in Albania, which was completely isolated during the Cold War. They were allied with China, at least formally. And then somehow this developed, and at some point, I wanted to go to Africa. My ex-wife and me, we had friends there. It came up. I also made friends in central Africa. Also, some years before I had been at a conference in Bordeaux, in France. And for me, as a German, it was very interesting to see when you went at the French conference. They have guests or they have corporations with their former colonies.

So, I was at a conference of the French trade union, but there were many people from Africa because they are connected still. And I don’t know the exactly how that goes exactly, but they are also involved in – let’s say they were there. So, I made friends with a guy from Mali. I still have the contact now. It was 20 years ago. We are still writing each other. So, I’m also interested in how it’s going on there because when you follow the official media, you don’t get so much information about, not so much precise information, about certain countries or Africa. So, I was always keen to work on that. At some point, I got the contract to work there for three years as a project leader. So, I also, of course, took my camera with me and started taking pictures of Africa.

Actually, before we were invited to a marriage of an actual princess and an actual sultan, so, in Cameroon, you have these official structures or the modern state structures, but you have also the traditional structures. So, you have also the sultan of a region in the northwest. So, he’s also a senator. So, he has two functions. He has a state official function and then he’s also officially the sultan. We were invited to a marriage of one of his daughters, a princess. And it was really like a fairy tale, somehow. When I worked there, my house was in Yaounde. My office was in Yaounde, which is the capital of Cameroon, but I was also responsible for the five other countries (Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Zentral African Republic).

So, I did a lot of traveling not only by plane, but also by car. We went through the jungle. We went through the borders; and we passed the border controls. So, that is quite an interesting experience. When you come from Europe, you could at least travel before corona without any problems. You just drive over the border; and there was no border control anymore in the last years. And in Cameroon, Africa, there is really strict border control that takes you one hour to get through, let’s say. And they have their procedures and their forms; and it’s very slow. And they have fences; and it’s like in the Cold War, basically. So, yes, that reminded me a little bit of the wall because when I was young, with my family we went to East Germany. It was also like that. You had to apply in advance a month before to go to East Germany.

And you have to prove that you have relatives there and you had to change money. And then there was really a border wall; and there were fences; and there were controls. It was taking lots of time, half an hour, one hour,. The fence, of course, and it’s unimaginable. Now, you just go through; and you don’t see anything anymore. But there was a real wall, of course. So that was also very exotic because the lifestyle, the way of living in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), was completely different from all the Western countries. So, for us, when we went to the Netherlands or to France, it was like, “Okay, this is different.” But the style of life, the living, the system of works, was similar, but in the GDR; it was completely different.

For instance, you couldn’t just go in the shop and buy something because, very often, there was nothing to buy; and people were standing in line outside the shops. And then, sometimes, they even didn’t know what’s inside, what they are selling, but they just bought it to trade it in later with their friends. So, they trade it. They made barter trading. So, they bought something, which they could exchange with somebody to get something so very basic. It’s not for us, of course; it’s not a foreign country, but it was very exciting to go there and was very different at that time. So, yes, basically, that’s how it went. I guess you contacted me because of my membership in Mensa, and so on. And, of course, the good thing about these High IQ societies is that you get to know people from all over the world.

During the first phase of the Covid pandemic, we were having talks not on Zoom, but on a similar thing we’d see. It was running for 24 hours. So, when we were in our evening time, the first people from Canada showed up. So, that was also very fascinating.

Jacobsen: Really like zoological specimen.

Neumann: Yes, I’m very interested. I think that’s typical for high IQ people. You’re interested to see new things and to meet new people, and so on. You easily get bored at some point. So, the daily routine, it’s difficult to keep for us.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Member, CIVIQ High IQ Society.

[2] Individual Publication Date: May 8, 2021:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2021:

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.


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