11.30-1.30pm: Workshop-Phase 1


Stress as a Usual State: Refugees between Isolation, Racism, and Fear of Deportation

Geraud Potago & Darik Yonkeu (NoStres-Tour and Afrique-Europe-Interact)
Venue: May Ayim // FR (interpreted in DE–FR–EN)

For many refugees stress is like a usual state. Against this background a group of refugees organized the NoStress-Tour in four refugee camps in Berlin and Bielefeld between June and September 2016. The aim was to get the camp inhabitants out of their stress with the help of low-threshold opportunities like sports, music and a children’s programme and to explicitly combine this in a second step with an empowerment perspective. Additionally the NoStress-Tour wanted to build up contacts with neighbours and welcome groups. All in all the project was a huge success in spite of numerous difficulties, especially with welcome and anti-racist groups. Two of the organizers put it this way: “We really don‘t want to be polemical, but it seems to us that the self-organized refugee-activists are not being taken seriously.” Next year, there will be a big NoStress-Conference and in this workshop on self-organizing this will also be discussed.

Geraud Potago is from Cameroon, where he studied for a couple of years. His journey to Europe was complicated, the most difficult part was the time he spent in a prison in Mali. In 2010 he was part – also in Mali – of the foundation of Afrique-Europe-Interact. In Europe he is active among others with CISPM (Coalition des Sans Papiers et Migrant.e.s), furthermore he initiated the NoStress tour 2016.

Darik Yonkeu is from Cameroon where he was engaged in different contexts, among other topics he fought for the rights of imprisoned adolescents and was engaged in the battle against Aids. He was also involved in dance projects with young people. In Germany Darik is engaged for the rights of refugees with the IL (Interventionist Left) Berlin and Afrique-Europe-Interact. He participated in organizing the NoStress-Tour as well as the events of We’ll Come United.

Exploitation of Resources and Corrupt Statehood. Congo and Niger as example cases

Emmanuel Mbolela, Olaf Bernau & Ousman Oumarou Hamani (all Afrique-Europe-Interact)
Venue: Foyer Ken Saro-Wiwa // FR (interpreted in DE–FR–EN)

The situation seems paradox: On the one hand, numerous countries in Africa are extremely rich in mineral resources, water supplies and fertile areas of arable land. On the other hand, the population of these countries is affected by extreme poverty. he background is that corrupt governments literally squander their raw materials or vast landscapes to rich investors from all over the world: These investors hardly pay any taxes or fees, there are no environmental or social rules – in return corruption, mismanagement and the violation of human rights is silently accepted by “Western” companies and governments. The result of this collaboration, that has been established during the time of colonialism, is that for the normal population there is nothing left – especially concerning the social infrastructure like education, healthcare, roads, water, electricity etc. In this workshop these processes will be discussed concretely using the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as Niger as examples, taking into account the resistance of the many social movements in these two countries.

Emmanuel Mbolela had to leave the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2002 after a short imprisonment for political reasons. He lived in Morocco for four years until he was able to migrate to the Netherlands in 2008. In 2015 he published his book “My way from Kongo to Europe. Between Resistance, Flight and Exile”. Emmanuel is active with Afrique-Europe-Interact.

Olaf Bernau (NoLager Bremen) has been politically active since the mid-1980s, since 2010 mainly in the framework of Afrique-Europe-Interact. He regularly spends time in Mali.

Ousman Oumarou Hamani is from Niger. He stayed in a camp in Saxony-Anhalt for 15 years. Today he lives in Bremen. He is active with Afrique-Europe-Interact.

Circular Migration (as a Development Strategy) instead of Deportation or “Voluntary“ Departure

Alassane Dicko (Afrique-Europe-Interact) & Stephan Dünnwald (Bavarian Refugee Council) and others
Venue: Salon Lilian Masediba Ngoyi // FR–DE (interpreted in DE–FR–EN)

Throughout history migration has had a shaping influence on large parts of Africa. Accordingly, until today circular labour migration, which is traditionally aligned to the rhythm of the rainy season, and therein circular migration between the interior and the coastal regions in particular, represents a major contributing factor to development in West Africa. At the same time migrants from countries such as Mali or Senegal have made their way to Europe since the end of the 1950s. Against this background, African activists point out that migration is not controllable. The workshop will focus on the changing history of circular migration to and from Africa as well on the issue of how this “bottom-up development strategy” increasingly comes under pressure from repressive EU migration policies. Additionally, it is planned to discuss why return programs to Africa can only work if the returnees are entitled to re-enter Europe at any time – for instance if gaining foothold in the country of origin fails.

Alassane Dicko is a trained computer scientist. In 2006 he was displaced from Ivory Coast to Mali where his parents are originally from. In Bamako he helped to build up the Malian Association for Deportees (AME). He is spokesman for the Malian section of Afrique-Europe-Interact since 2010.

Stephan Dünnwald works for the Bavarian Refugee Council. He has conducted research on the relationship of residents to refugee camps in the neighbourhood and deals with topics such as migration and development, return, and externalisation of European migration policy. In this context he has spent considerable time in Mali.

Ecocide in the Niger Delta: Flight and Migration as a result of Westen Resource Policy

Peter Donatus (freelance journalist, environmental and human rights activist, Cologne)
Venue: Mekatilili wa Menza // DE (interpreted in DE–FR–EN)

During acts of war we know who the aggressors responsible for flight are. But it is different in the case of ecocide: the offender is the faceless, unassailable global capitalism. Ecocide is the damage and destruction of ecosystems mainly by reckless industrial-civilizing acts of the West and thus the destruction of the living basis of a population. Flight and migration are true results of ecocides. Those who have to flee for these reasons are unfortunately called “economic refugees” and therefore are not protected by the Geneva Convention on Refugees. Which are the social, political and economical consequences of the ecocides and what are the consequences related to society as a whole? How are these results connected to migration and self-determined development? What can be done to stop ecocides? These questions are examined with reference to the situation in the Niger-Delta in Nigeria, which suffers under the consequences of an ongoing eco-disaster since 1958.

Peter Donatus, who himself fled Nigeria 29 years ago, is a freelance journalist, ecological, and human rights activist and project manager. He is a long-time critic of the multinational oil company Shell. Peter Donatus has been fighting for three decades against the economic destruction of the Niger Delta and was therefore in incommunicado-imprisonment without charges for many months. Today he lives in Cologne.

50 years of Eyadéma-Family-Dictatorship are Enough! The Latest Mass Protests in Togo

 With several (Togolese) activists, some of which are active with Afrique-Europe-Interact
Venue: Studio Frantz Fanon // FR (interpreted in DE–FR–EN)

For 50 years, the West African country of Togo has been firmly under the control of the Eyadéma family-clan: when as early as 1963 the popular independence leader Sylvanus Olympio was murdered, Gnassingbé Eyadéma putsched himself into power – he was, by the way, a close friend of the long-term Bavarian Prime Minister Franz-Joseph Strauß (CSU). When Eyadéma died in 2005, his son Faure Gnassingbé succeeded into the presidential office – during protests after the rigged elections in 2005 about 800 people were murdered by security staff members. But since 2013 mass protests have been taking place in Togo on a regular basis, in which market women are playing an important role. Since August 2017 again hundreds of thousands of people have been demonstrating. At the time being there is a realistic chance that the political, social and economic situation in this completely run-down country could change as well as the situation of the hundreds and thousands of people who have fled Togo since the beginning of the 1990s.

Decolonizing Knowledge: For an Epistemology of the South

Miguel Angel Ruiz Martínez (Entwicklungspolitisches Netzwerk Sachsen) & Conrad Schmidt-Bens (Netzwerk Studieren & Transformieren)
Venue: Loge Thomas Sankara // DE (interpreted in DE–FR–EN)

Formally the era of colonialism ended after the Second World War and many colonies gained political independence. But not only the economic and socio-cultural chains persisted. The hegemony of the Western world continues to write history until today and controls science, critical thinking and ways and visions of life. In order to justify the exploitation of people in the Global South, as well as to preserve the knowledge and definition power of the Global North, European sciences define some people as second class. In doing so they ignore the practical and theoretical knowledge in the Global South or classify it as irrational. This workshop analyses this value and knowledge system of the Global North as well as its instruments of cognitive rule. In addition, we will exchange ideas about an epistemology of the South and about emancipatory approaches to knowledge. We want to understand to act and act to understand.

Miguel Angel Ruiz Martínez is a Mexican human rights activist. He is currently working with refugees and as consultant for migrant organizations in the field of development policy.

Conrad Schmidt-Bens is an education activist and dramatic advisor at Theater X and works for Brot für die Welt. Together with students from the Global South he has founded the Network Studying & Transforming for Educational Justice.

Reparations for Colonial Crimes and Ecological Destruction – Experiences from Tanzania

Fulgence Kisalya (Association of Tanzanians in Berlin and Brandenburg, Berlin)
Venue: Emiliano Zapata // DE (interpreted in DE–FR–EN)

During the Maji Maji War from 1905 to 1907 different peoples in South-West Tanzania got together to resist against forced labour, the plantation economy and German colonial rule more generally. The crushing of this war for liberation cost the lives of an estimated 300.000 Africans. The region continues to suffer the social and ecological consequences of this war until today. The Federal Republic of Germany has neither officially apologized for this mass murder nor for other atrocities or robberies such as that of the huge dinosaur skeleton displayed in the Natural History Museum of Berlin. Tanzanians in Germany – together with other people from former German colonies such as Namibia – have since long demanded to deal with these colonial crimes as well as with reparations. Recently, members of the Tanzanian government have also raised the issue of reparations. This workshop deals with the question whether and how reparations (of material and immaterial nature) can serve as a means to adequately address colonial-era crimes and ecological destructions.

Fulgence Kisalya is active in the Association of Tanzanians in Berlin and Brandenburg (UWATAB). He has for a long time worked as a Kiswahili teacher for the German Development Service and the Foreign Office.

Movie: God is Not Working on Sunday, eh! (director: Leona Goldstein, Ruanda 2015, 84 minutes)

Venue: Lottas Kaufladen (Erich-Köhn-Str. 68) // French/Kinyarwanda with German or English subtitles

Award-winning film by Leona Goldstein on the situation of women after the genocide in Rwanda 1994. “God is Not Working on Sunday, Eh!” tells the story of Godelieve Mukasarasi and Florida Mukarubuga. Two of many women in Rwanda, who are struggling to overcome the trauma of genocide through joint activities and individual and collective support programs, addressing both survivors and perpetrators. Despite their different biographies, the two women fight for a common goal: reconciliation, equal rights and political participation of women. Without financial resources or training, they have succeeded in building a vibrant and independent women’s network, which today plays an important role in the reconstruction of the neighborhoods, in the reconciliation process and in promoting social change.