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Er sei als Schwarzer nicht gut zu vermarkten, hörte der Schauspieler Selam Tadese von deutschen Agenturen. Jetzt versucht er sein Glück in Hollywood.

Ein Portrait

Es gibt da eine Szene wie aus einem Lehrbuch in dem Kinofilm Feuchtgebiete (2013), basierend auf Charlotte Roches gleichnamigem Roman. Als Negativbeispiel muss dazu gesagt werden: Der Raum ist düster, obwohl draußen die Sonne scheint. Orientalische Teppiche sind auf dem Boden ausgebreitet, Plastikstühle reihen sich an der Wand. Ein nackter, ernst blickender Mann mit dicht behaarter Brust kniet sich vor einer jungen, ebenso nackten Frau hin. Sie hat sich auf einem Sofa niedergelassen und die Beine gespreizt. Er zieht eine Stirnlampe tiefer ins Gesicht. Die beiden kennen sich von der Arbeit, er heißt Kanell und er hat die Frau zu sich eingeladen, um ihr Vulvahaar zu rasieren. Die Frau ist Weiß. Der Mann ist Schwarz. Er ist die einzige nicht-weiße Figur im ganzen Film.

Die Szene verrät in wenigen Minuten unmissverständlich und exemplarisch, was für viele Menschen im Deutschen Film schief läuft: Der nicht-weiße Charakter, wenn er überhaupt auftaucht, ist der Fremdling, Sonderling, der Exot, als Mann oft sexuell übergeladen. Rollenschablonen, die nicht-weißen Schauspieler*innen buchstäblich auf den Leib geschrieben werden. Selam Tadese heißt der deutsche Schauspieler, der in Feuchtgebiete die Figur des Kanell verkörpert. Ob er schon mal eine Rolle angeboten bekommen habe, die nicht auf seine Hautfarbe oder vermeintliche Herkunft zugeschnitten war, möchte ich von ihm wissen. Selam muss nicht lange überlegen: „Nein. Ich habe noch nie eine sogenannte typisch deutsche Rolle bekommen.“ Was ist dabei eigentlich typisch Deutsch? Für viele Filme- und Fernsehmacher*innen sind es Schauspieler*innen wie Selam nicht.

Jahrelang habe ich versucht, in Deutschland erfolgreich zu sein – vergeblich

Selam, Schauspieler

Anfang September in Berlin. Während um 19 Uhr die Abenddämmerung das Ende des Tages ankündigt, ist Selam gerade erst aufgestanden. Es ist 10 Uhr und er schlürft verschlafen und freundlich blickend auf meinem Computerbildschirm an seiner Kaffeetasse. Grelles Sonnenlicht scheint aus dem Fenster hinter ihm in die Webcam. Man fragt sich, wie es dahinter aussieht auf den Straßen von Los Angeles. 9.000 Kilometer Entfernung und neun Stunden Zeitverschiebung trennen Selam von Berlin, der Stadt, die er vor einem halben Jahr verließ. Selam ist jetzt in Hollywood.

Dass Selam eigentlich ein lebhafter, fast beschwingter Mensch ist, kann im ersten Augenblick überraschen, wenn man ihn nur aus Filmszenen wie aus Feuchtgebiete kennt. Selam lacht beinahe ununterbrochen. Sein Lachen ist gluckernd und jugendlich, wie auch sein Sprechen. Doch die dunklen Augen werden von feinen Falten gerahmt. Selam ist 38 Jahre alt, fast die Hälfte seines Lebens Schauspieler. Manchmal lacht er, weil er nicht fassen kann, dass er jetzt in „fucking“ Hollywood ist. Vor rund zwei Jahren nahm er dort an seinem ersten internationalen Casting teil und wurde sofort für den Pilotfilm einer HBO-Serie der Regisseurin und Oscar-Preisträgerin Kathryn Bigelow engagiert. Diese wurde zwar nicht weiterproduziert, dennoch: „Die Leute sagen: Du bist nicht umsonst hier. Du kannst was, du bist ein Guter. Anfangs verstand ich das nicht. Jahrelang habe ich versucht, in Deutschland erfolgreich zu sein – vergeblich“, sagt Selam. „Jetzt sehe ich aber, was eigentlich das Problem ist: Die deutsche Filmlandschaft ist sowas von rassistisch.“ Dann lacht Selam wieder. Da, wo andere den Kopf schütteln würden, sagt er: „Ich muss darüber lachen, weil ich es mit Humor nehmen muss.“

Die Vielfalt in der deutschen Realität ist im deutschen Film nicht angekommen

2006 gründete sich die Organisation Schwarze Filmschaffende in Deutschland (SFD). Das Vorstandsmitglied Carol Campbell, die selbst afro-deutsche Schauspielerin und Moderatorin ist, sagte damals in einem Interview, sie sehe kaum Menschen der Schwarzen Community dargestellt, als seien sie im Alltag angekommen. „Vielfalt ist auch in Deutschland heute keine Fantasie, sondern bereits Realität und Alltag […] Was ich sehe, sind immer noch diese tradierten, historischen Muster, diese alten Bilder einer vermeintlichen Realität, und was ich nicht sehe, ist das, was ich wirklich in der deutschen Wirklichkeit erlebe“, unterstrich sie wenige Jahre später in einem anderen Gespräch.

Auf dem Integrationsgipfel im Jahre 2006 sagte ein anderer afro-deutscher Schauspieler, Pierre Sanoussi-Bliss, in einer Rede: „Ich habe mir als Mitglied der Jury für die Lola, den deutschen Filmpreis, in der letzten Zeit etwa 60 deutsche Filme angeschaut. Das macht nicht unbedingt froh. Aber was mich wirklich traurig stimmt: Ich habe in keinem dieser Filme mitgespielt, und auch sonst taucht kein Leidensgenosse meiner Hautfarbe dort auf. Alles ist wie mit Persil gewaschen: reinweiß.“ Vor wenigen Jahren teilte Sanoussi-Bliss die Rede erneut in seinem Facebook-Profil mit dem Kommentar: „Diese Rede könnte ich seitdem monatlich halten und es würde sich nichts ändern…“ Dem würde Selam Tadese wohl auch zustimmen.

Eine Dramaturgin sagte mal: „Deutschland ist einfach noch nicht bereit für Schwarze Schauspieler“

 dsc00028 940x1410Während sich in den USA Filmschaffende für den Menschen hinter seiner Hautfarbe interessieren würden, herrsche in Deutschland Stillstand, so der Schauspieler Selam Tadese. Foto: Bejo Dohmen

Selam hat in den letzten Jahren mindestens 25 Rollenangebote als geflüchteter Mann bekommen. Die meisten davon seien sehr erniedrigend gewesen, erzählt er. Das habe nicht einmal etwas mit der Generation zu tun, auch junge Filmemacher*innen kämen mit solchen Rollen auf ihn zu. „Da frage ich mich: Wo habt ihr die letzten 15 Jahre eigentlich gelebt?“ Selam erinnert sich gut daran, wie er mal auf Mauritius bei einem Dreh einen Crew-Fotografen sagen hörte, die Kolonialherrschaft sei eine tolle Sache gewesen, während sich dieser von Schwarzen Kellner*innen bedienen ließ. Oder wie eine Dramaturgin mal zu ihm sagte: „Deutschland ist einfach noch nicht bereit für Schwarze Schauspieler.“

Stattdessen spielte Selam mal den obskuren Fremdling Kanell in Feuchtgebiete unter der Regie von David Wnendt, mal einen äthiopischen Arzt an der Seite von Jürgen Vogel, der in Der weiße Äthiopier (2016) die Figur Frank verkörpert, einen Weißen, der sich kurzerhand dazu entschließt, Äthiopier zu sein und einem Dorf mit vermeintlich großzügigen Spenden zum Wohlstand zu verhelfen. Dann sind da noch Filme wie Endlich deutsch! (2014) oder Immigration Game (2017). Insgesamt hat er in mehr als 20 Filmen mitgespielt und war viele Jahre am Theater.

In seiner Kartei steht: „Ethnische Typen: Gemischte Herkunft, Orientalisch, Schwarz-Sonstige Gegend, Schwarzafrikaner“

Das mit Äthiopien ist zumindest nicht all zu weit hergeholt: Selams Vater, der vor wenigen Jahren verstarb, kam aus Äthiopien, die Mutter aus Eritrea. In Kuweit haben sich die beiden kennengelernt. Dort kam Selam auf die Welt. Nach der Trennung der Eltern wandert die Mutter mit dem fünfjährigen Selam und seinem jüngeren Bruder nach Deutschland aus. Sie kommen in Baden-Württemberg an, Selam wächst in Ulm auf. Im „Schwabeländle“, wie er liebevoll sagt. Selam hat unter anderem in Köln und Berlin gelebt, aber er ist immer ein Schwabe geblieben. In seiner Kartei einer Schauspielagentur steht daher auch bei dem Stichpunkt Dialekte: „Schwäbisch (Heimatdialekt)“. Was in der Kartei jedoch auch steht: „Ethnische Typen: Gemischte Herkunft, Orientalisch, Schwarz-Sonstige Gegend, Schwarzafrikaner“.

Es habe Zeiten gegeben, in denen er zwei Jahre lang keine Agentur gefunden habe, was bei seiner Vita sehr unüblich ist. Er habe jedoch immer wieder gehört: „Du bist als Schwarzer Schauspieler zu schwer zu vermarkten.“ Selbstverständlich werden auch in den USA teils Rollen, die von Schwarzen oder Schauspieler*innen of Color verkörpert werden, mit rassistischen Stereotypen besetzt. Whitewashing ist ein großes Problem. Die Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences steht seit Jahren in der Kritik, für die Oscar-Preisverleihung mehrheitlich weiße Schauspieler*innen zu nominieren. Doch immerhin tue sich da etwas, sagt Selam. Und es werde über diese strukturellen Probleme gesprochen. Anders als in Deutschland: Wie oft wohl ein nicht-weißer Schauspieler in den letzten zehn Jahren den Deutschen Filmpreis für die beste Hauptrolle gewonnen hat oder für ihn nominiert war? Genau: Gar nicht. Wie laut ist die gesellschaftliche Debatte darüber? Bei den Frauen gewann immerhin die Schauspielerin Sibel Kekilli im Jahre 2010 den Preis, übrigens für einen Film namens Die Fremde, in dem sie eine turko-deutsche Frau spielt, die sich gegen ihre tiefreligiöse und repressive Familie wehren muss.

Künstler*innen und Filmemacher*innen stünden seit Trump in den USA unter Druck, sagt Selam: Gerne beschwört der US- Präsident Verschwörungen herauf, wonach Medien- und Kunstschaffende mit falschen Abbildungen der vermeintlichen Realität Lügen verbreiten. „Die Leute sind richtig panisch“, sagt Selam. Vor kurzem habe er mit einer Casterin zusammengesessen, die plötzlich zu weinen angefangen habe, als sie sich über Trump unterhielten. „Und gerade deswegen wollen sie Themen wie Diversity im Film weiter pushen.“ In den USA würden sich Caster*innen für den Menschen hinter seiner Hautfarbe interessieren, so Selam, sie wären auf der Suche nach neuen Talenten und neuen Geschichten. In Deutschland sei das anders: Jederzeit ließen ihn Caster*innen und Produzent*innen das Abhängigkeitsverhältnis spüren. Und es herrsche Stillstand: Weil man zu sehr damit beschäftigt sei, den Kreis jener, die dazugehören dürfen, enger zu ziehen.  „Deutschland ist definitiv eines der zurückgebliebensten Länder bei dem Thema“, sagt Selam.

Für Selam wurde die Ablehnung irgendwann zur Normalität. „Im Alltag, wenn ich in Berlin abhänge, weiß ich, dass ich einfach dazugehöre. Aber die Filmlandschaft hat mich eines Besseren belehrt. Das hat mich irgendwann zerrissen.“ Also hat er sich auf den Weg gemacht, nach Hollywood. Heute denkt er, dass man nicht warten darf, bis sich etwas ändert. „Denn das wird es nicht, solange immer noch dieselben Leute in den Produktionsfirmen und Redaktionen sitzen. Je mehr Leute sagen, dass sie da nicht mehr mitmachen, desto eher ändert sich etwas.“

Dabei gehört Selam nach Berlin wie ein Fisch ins Wasser

Im Sommer dieses Jahres war die Aufregung groß, als der NDR verkündete, die Tatort-Kommissarin Charlotte Lindholm, gespielt von Maria Furtwängler, bekäme eine neue Ermittlerin zur Seite gestellt: Anaïs Schmitz, gespielt von der Schwarzen Schauspielerin Florence Kasumba. Auch für sie war es ein langer Weg, bis sie sich in der deutschen Traditionsfilmlandschaft über eine Hauptrolle freuen durfte. Zunächst musste sie beweisen, dass auch der internationale Markt an ihr interessiert ist. Sie spielte eine Rolle in der US-amerikanischen Marvel-Produktion Black Panther, die dieses Jahr in die Kinos kam.

 „Wenn wir jetzt in einer Kneipe sitzen würden, könnte ich dir den halben Tag erzählen, was ich in Deutschland erlebt habe. Das ist wirklich eine traurige Nummer“, sagte Selam damals im September, als wir uns über Skype unterhielten. Dennoch vermisste Selam Deutschland. Und vor allem vermisste er Berlin. Ein Widerspruch ist das nicht. Als wir uns zwei Monate später, im November, in einem Café in Kreuzberg treffen, merkt man, dass Selam hierher gehört wie ein Fisch ins Wasser. Erst vor wenigen Stunden ist er am Berliner Flughafen Schönefeld gelandet. Es ist ein milder Herbsttag, wir sitzen draußen. Selam ist gekleidet wie jemand, der zu Hause ist: schwarze Cappie, schwarzer Pullover, dunkle Jogginghose aus Stoff und eine knallbunte Trainingsjacke. Vorbeigehende grüßen ihn, Selam plaudert mit dem Café-Besitzer über Trump. Eine ehemalige Nachbarin spaziert vorbei und bleibt stehen, als sie Selam entdeckt: „Ich hatte mich schon gefragt, wo du gerade in der Welt unterwegs bist.“ Am Ende der Straße befindet sich die Schauspielschule, an der Selam seinen Beruf erlernte. Er zeigt mit dem Finger in die Richtung, in der anderen Hand seine Tasse Kaffee und sagt: „Dort habe ich die beste Zeit gehabt. Ich konnte mich in allen Rollen ausprobieren. Da war meine Hautfarbe sowas von egal.“ Es klingt nicht verträumt oder verbittert, sondern so, als hätte er sich damit abgefunden, dass es zumindest in Deutschland nicht mehr so sein wird.

Bald geht Selam zurück nach Hollywood. Doch zuerst spielt er eine Rolle in Deutschland – mit gebrochenem Deutsch

Nun ist Selam erst einmal zurück, aber nicht, um zu bleiben. Obwohl er Los Angeles „superschwierig“ findet, eine „Riesenmaschinerie an Menschen“, will er, wenn es mit dem Visum klappt, spätestens im Februar wieder zurückkehren in das kleine Zimmer, in das die Sonne scheint und 800 US-Dollar im Monat kostet. Anfang nächsten Jahres gehen die nächsten Castings los. In L.A. hat Selam im Schnitt drei Castings pro Monat, die allein sein Agent arrangiert. Hinzu kommen noch einige aus Selbstakquise. Das sind so viele, wie sonst in einem ganzen Jahr in Deutschland.

„Natürlich hätte ich Bock, in Deutschland zu drehen. Das ist meine Heimat“, sagt Selam mit Nachdruck. Einmal hat er am Theater die Rolle des Jago spielen dürfen aus William Shakespeares Stück Othello, der Typus des dämonischen Narren. Das fand er toll. Eine andere Figur, die er gerne darstellen würde, ist die des Grafensohns Franz Moor aus Schillers Die Räuber. Im Moment drehe er außerdem eine Webserie mit einem sehr jungen Team aus Produzent*innen. Es geht um das Thema Religion. Und eine andere Anfrage hat er, die er angenommen hat. Irgendwie muss auch ein Schauspieler seine Miete zahlen. Worum es in der Rolle geht? Salem verrät nur: Er spielt einen Menschen mit gebrochenem Deutsch. Dann lacht er.

Zwei Jahre lang stand eine Gandhi-Statue auf dem Campus der Universität in der ghanaischen Hauptstadt Accra. Nach einem Streit über rassistisch empfundene Äußerungen des Inders wurde die Statue nun abgebaut.

In Ghanas Hauptstadt Accra wurde eine Statue von Mahatma Gandhi vom Campus der Universität entfernt. Wie BBC berichtet, starteten Aktivisten bereits unmittelbar nach der Enthüllung der Statue im Jahr 2016 durch den damaligen indischen Präsidenten Pranab Mukherjee eine Petition, um das Bauwerk wieder vom Universitätsgelände verschwinden zu lassen.

Gegenüber BBC erklärten Studierende und Lehrende der Universität, dass die Statue am Mittwoch entfernt wurde. “Diese Statue zu akzeptieren bedeutet, dass wir für alles stehen, wofür er stand. Und wenn er für diese Dinge wirklich stand, denke ich nicht, dass wir ihn auf dem Campus haben sollten”, sagte ein Jurastudent dem Sender. Auf Fotos ist zu sehen, wie mehrere Leute die Statue mit Seilen entfernen.

In der Petition auf “Change.org” beklagen die Initiatoren, dass es sich bei der einzigen Statue einer historischen Person auf dem Legon-Campus der Universität nicht um eine afrikanische Persönlichkeit handle. Zudem seien in Gandhis Schriften klar rassistische Tendenzen erkennbar.

Wort aus Kolonialzeit im Fokus

Die Petition zitiert Auszüge seiner Schriften aus den 1890er-Jahren, in denen er die indigenen Völker Afrikas als “rohe Kaffir” bezeichnet. “Kaffir”, das vom arabischen Wort “Kafir” für “Ungläubiger” abgeleitet ist, wurde während der Kolonialzeit zunächst als Sammelbegriff für Indigene verwendet. Später entwickelte es sich zum rassistischen Schimpfwort, weshalb es zum Beispiel heute in Südafrika und Namibia als “Hatespeech” gilt und verboten ist.

Gandhi unterstützte den gewaltfreien Widerstand gegen die britische Kolonialherrschaft in Indien und wurde so zur Ikone. Als junger Mann verbrachte er einige Zeit in Südafrika. Er äußerte sich einige Male herablassend gegenüber schwarzen Menschen. So beklagte er sich einmal bei einer Verhaftung in Südafrika darüber, dass er nicht mit Weißen, sondern mit Schwarzen verhaftet worden sei, weil diese “in der Regel unzivilisiert” seien, wie “Spiegel Online” schreibt.

Mirja Mattis

Die neue Regierung von Xavier Bettel wagt ein Experiment: Luxemburg soll das erste Land der Welt sein, in dem der Bus- und Bahnverkehr kostenlos ist. Bahn- und Busfahren wird in Luxemburg vom ersten Quartal 2020 an kostenlos sein. Premierminister Xavier Bettel sagte in seiner Regierungserklärung vor dem Parlament: "Luxemburg wird das erste Land der Welt sein, in dem man den öffentlichen Nahverkehr spontan oder geplant nutzen und überall ein- und aussteigen kann, ohne sich Gedanken darüber zu machen, welche Fahrkarte man am besten kauft." Der Plan "stehe uns einfach gut zu Gesicht und trägt enorm zum Image und zur Attraktivität Luxemburgs bei", sagte Bettel.

Der Gratisnahverkehr ist Teil des politischen Bemühens, die Verkehrsprobleme des Landes zu entspannen: Jeden Tag pendeln 200.000 Menschen aus Deutschland, Frankreich und Belgien zur Arbeit nach Luxemburg.

Ein bis zum Jahr 2035 reichender Mobilitätsplan soll nach den Worten von Bettel dafür sorgen, dass Service und Pünktlichkeit des öffentlichen Nahverkehrsverbessert werden und dass beispielsweise in Grenznähe das Parkangebot für Berufspendler ausgebaut wird.

Schon bisher wird der öffentliche Transport im Großherzogtum mit sehr niedrigen Fahrkartenpreisen zu etwa 90 Prozent durch den Staat finanziert. Jugendliche bis zu 20 Jahren und Studenten fahren bereits kostenlos. Eine Einzelfahrkarte kostet zwei Euro und gilt zwei Stunden lang im ganzen Land. 

Die Demokratische Partei (DP) von Ministerpräsident Bettel, die Luxemburger Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei (LSAP) und die Grünen hatten sich vor wenigen Wochen auf einen Koalitionsvertrag und einige liberale Reformen geeinigt. Im Parlament verfügen die Parteien zusammen über eine äußerst knappe Mehrheit von 31 der insgesamt 60 Abgeordneten.

Erst vor wenigen Tagen hatte die neue Regierung eine umfassende Legalisierung des privaten Gebrauchs von Cannabis angekündigt. Laut einer Vereinbarung von Liberalen, Sozialisten und Grünen soll die Herstellung sowie der Kauf, Besitz und Konsum von Cannabis für den persönlichen Gebrauch straffrei gestellt werden. Die Einnahmen aus dem Verkauf sollen demnach vorrangig für Präventionsmaßnahmen im Suchtbereich ausgegeben werde.

Zeit Online

At just 31 years old, Rebeca Gyumi has a list of accomplishments anyone twice her age would be proud of. She has successfully challenged her country's legal system, winning a landmark ruling in 2016 to raise the age of child marriage for girls in Tanzania from 14 to 18; started a foundation to advocate for girls' education; won the UNICEF Global Goal Award and was named 2016 Woman of the Year by New Africa Magazine. Now, she's on her way to New York to collect the 2018 Human Rights Prize awarded by the United Nations.

"I was pretty much shocked. So shocked and caught unaware that I was even considered for such a prestigious prize," she tells CNN.

Gyumi was just a child herself when she started to see the injustice happening around her. She was 13 when some of her schoolmates were forced to drop out of school because of pregnancy and were married off. Volunteering at a youth initiative at the age of 20, she began to realize it was a national problem and not just a local one happening in her hometown of Dodoma.

"It bothered me that the age for boys to be married was 18 but for girls it was 14," she says.

It wasn't until she was in university studying law that she learned about the Law of Marriage Act of 1971 and saw the potential in trying to mount a legal challenge against it.

In 2016, with a couple of years as a lawyer under her belt, Gyumi and her colleagues decided to do just that. They started work on a legal case to petition against the Marriage Act, compiling reports to prove that child marriage for girls was an issue nationwide and why it needed to be stopped.

According to the country's national demographic and health survey of 2015/16, two out of every five girls marry before their 18th birthday with a prevalence rate of 37% nationwide, giving Tanzania one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world.

"Lots of people were not amused and thought we were disruptive, saying 'young people have tried before and failed.' But when we started attending sessions in court with a positive outcome, organizations came back and said they were willing to work together with us."

Gyumi and her colleagues persevered and in 2016, at the age of 29, she was victorious. Tanzania's High Court ruled that sections 13 and 17 of the Marriage Act were unconstitutionaland that the age for girls to legally marry should be raised to 18.

"I was so happy that day for the fact that a girl child had won. I was overwhelmed with joy," she says.

"I felt duty bound to fight for the girls I had interacted with. They didn't have enough information to know how to challenge what was happening to them."

The woman who fought to stop child marriages, and won

While her success was celebrated by many around the country, some hard-liners and traditionalists were not happy, attacking her for promoting a "Western culture."

Furthermore, the landmark ruling was subsequently thrust into legal peril when the government appealed against it last year. One of the arguments of their appeal states that child marriage can actually protect girls who get pregnant out of wedlock.

The case is currently in Tanzania's high court with a verdict due soon. Despite the challenge, Gyumi remains steadfast.

"For me I feel like we are at the moment where our country really needs to defend girls' rights. This appeal does not send a good message of our country's intention to protect girls generally. It will look really bad on the government if they win. There is no victory in winning a case that allows girls to get married younger. It's not a victory a country can be proud of."

Even if the law is upheld, Gyumi says there's still a lot of work to be done.

"The change in the law is not the only thing we're advocating for. We need to make sure the law is implemented at a ground level. We need to teach girls around the country to stand up for their rights and continue engaging with communities."

A girl gets married every 2 seconds somewhere in the world

Gyumi's success is testament to the power of education, a cause she now advocates for through her foundation, Msichana.

"The fact that I'm here today and doing what I'm doing is due to education. My family didn't have a lot but they sacrificed what they had to give me an education. Imagine what it's like for other people in my country, if they're able to get an education and explore life without limits, without boys telling them 'you're a girl, you can only go as far as this,' those kind of voices can then be challenged."

Winning the 2018 Human Rights Prize puts Gyumi on the international stage alongside other activists such as Malala Yousafzai, Denis Mukwege and Nelson Mandela, and it's not something she takes lightly.

"It's not just a personal honor but my country's honor, putting our country on the map. It's a proud moment for me and for the girls I stood up for and for the ongoing global progress that is happening around girls' and women's rights."

Asked what her message is to other young girls out there, her answer is simple.

CNN

The most surprising aspect about living in a racialized world is that one rarely ever gets used to it. However colorfully the questions by which the curiosities about the Black African may be presented, the average recipient could peel through with relative ease. Yet, familiarity has never made those questions any less troubling to the souls of sub-Saharan folk.

Adjon Guy Ghislain Danho is a research fellow at Humboldt University Berlin. In a recent article he penned for Topafric, he shares his experience with a fellow whom he describes as an ``older man`` at a hotel in Munich. ``Did you come here by sea?`` asked the older man, ``No, I came by plane`` replied Mr. Danho, adding that he was also a writer, a teacher, a researcher and a proud farmer. ``You should listen to Adjon, he as a great project for Africa!`` says the older man as he introduced Danho to his colleagues. A version of this story could be told by well-nigh every Black African in the diaspora and it reminds me of a chance meeting I had with an older woman earlier this year.

It was a weekday in February when we met and the location was a polished co-working space in the heart of the city. My best friend and I were passing out flyers for an event I was organizing and upon seeing her we decided to approach. The usual `where do you come from?` turned into `what are you doing here?` Shortly after, she invited me to share my ``vast knowledge about Black history`` with her audience. The tone of the invitation, which I was given without any prior knowledge about my area of expertise, was as though I was being done a favor of a lifetime. To be fair, she could not have been much warmer than she was to me that day and I suspect she believed she was helping the cause as she understood it. But the audacious and condescending spirit of her demand made a sad impression on me; could I ask any white person on the street to tell my audience about white history?- I asked myself.

Ever since I have spent countless whiles pondering on that experience and on others- losing myself in countless moments of stillness with `what do they think of us?` as my only mantra. And so in this article, I endeavor to make sense of the partition that separates the Black African from his neighbors across the Atlantic and the Mediterranean with the hope that we, as a collective, could begin to individually and collectively confront the ignorance and the prejudices that are comfortably tucked in our subconscious and be more mindful, open, kind and yet honest with each other about who we are and or are not. 

As it is with most things of significance, the explanation for why certain views are held about the Black African are numerous and complex, and any attempt to reduce the uncomfortable curiosity about him or her to a single motive would likely be wrong if not unfair. There are, of course, the racists who only expect to see the Black African in the bush where she or he supposedly belongs. These are the same lowest common denominators who nowadays hide behind cultural differences to oppose even a whim from anyone who does not look like them. However, increasingly they have become a marginalized minority that is easy to detect, contain and avoid. The unavoidable majority, at least from experience, is neither racist at heart nor in mind and is often as supportive of the Black African`s cause as there is. Yet, I have too often found too many of the non-racist majority operating with assumptions that make the Black African feel uncomfortable if not outright unequal.

These assumptions are fermented by a view that the developed West is a reward for the rest of the world`s best with only a few exceptions. By extrapolation, the Black African in Berlin or Paris is the superior- smarter, more beautiful, healthier, richer and more modern - version of his kind in Accra or Dakar. However, at his best, he is an exceptional talent. But at his most deficient he represents what is wrong with Africa. Since Africans in the diaspora are generally viewed as the superior or more talented versions of their brethren back home, the dearth of Black African competition at the highest level in science and technology, education, business and finance and even in entertainment (for reasons that are inadequately addressed) is taken as evidence that not much can be expected from the continent. If Africa`s best is hardly competitive here, what does it say about those back home who are not even good enough to be allowed entry into the modern world?

A number of factors including the selective immigration policies of developed countries (as already insinuated), selective media coverage and the collective failure to fully grapple with the residual effects on the mind of the ideas that sustained slavery and colonialism for centuries are mostly to blame for shaping this view of people from the African continent. However, since this view took a long time and active work to take root, it will likely take some time and some action to uproot.

The bad news is that the past which has been handed down to us makes it easier for us to offend and mistreat each other without even knowing. The good news is that that same past which we have inherited was an act of mostly men, not God. Therefore, we, the men and women of today, can change its course if we choose differently. And since countless realities in our often separate and unequal spaces constantly seem to affirm the prejudice against the Black African, it is even more important for the non-racist but unwittingly prejudiced to de-educate themselves and for the Black African in the diaspora to be fully aware of the expectations before him and to resist the temptation to misrepresent. 

Who is the African in the diaspora? The African in the diaspora may be a lot of things, but he is not necessarily the smartest of his people. Often times it is the more fortunate and privileged that make it to Europe or North America. What is even more important is this; far too many of Africa`s talented minds are in bodies that are too poor, too feminine and too rural to be discovered through the privileged, foreign and rigid process that is formal education. Far too often it is not the one with the formal education that leads the household, the clan or the community. He is hardly ever the one with the solutions for the everyday problems that so often test the community. Hence, equating the smartest of the people with the fluent English or French speaker as is so often done is an affront not just to the collective intelligence of the African people, but also to basic human intelligence.

That aside, Black Africans in the diaspora have a responsibility to be clear about what they represent or do not present because it is the very logic that makes a dish, a song or a piece of fabric that is hardly known outside one ethnic group in one African country an African dish, an African song or an African dress that also makes the HIV pandemic in a place like South Africa an African problem. There is no such thing as an African culture any more than there is such a thing as an African disease - there are only African cultures and a disease that may be common in parts of Liberia may hardly be known in any part of Ghana. These differences must be embraced and reflected in our presentations and representations as individuals from the African continent. But it is also not the African`s responsibility to educate Europeans and the rest of the world about the complexities of life and the diversities between countries on the continent. For one, the average Ghanaian is hardly familiar with life outside of his own nation. The rest of the world is more than capable of learning and differentiating on its own. It knows which African country has the most oil and which is home to the late Nelson Mandela. The fact that it does not differentiate when it comes to diseases and conflicts is not the makings of an accident or inability but of choice.

But where the goal is always mutual understanding, cooperation and peaceful co-existence, there is no substitute for approaching each other as humans and as equals. As difficult as it might be, let us not lose sight of the fact that we are all, to some extent, victims of the very past we want to change, and let this knowledge guide our reactions to those questions that may offend us and the unfriendly answers they may solicit. Let us give each other the benefit of the doubt by being less assuming and let us treat each person as an individual. And maybe when we ask others about their days before we ask why they are here, we give ourselves a chance to have a more meaningful conversation and to tear down the walls of ignorance, prejudice and bigotry that stand between us and possibly form friendships that may forever endure.

Mohammed Adawulai

. . . and that doesn’t hurt its holiness or its validity! When I was a child my Sunday School teachers used to say that God whispered the words of the Bible, and someone wrote them down. There is some level of comfort in this idea, and many Christians I love defend it passionately, but there are problems with this theory.  Men of varied culture and history penned the words, men translated the words from language to language, and men deliberated, disagreed, and decided which ancient writings to include in what we call the Bible.  Understandably, therefore, there are hundreds of problems when we attempt to see the words as handed down directly from God.

I understand and respect the need for some to yell “heresy” about now! I speculate a twofold reason for this passion: 1) The human need for God to be tangible, thus the equating of the Bible with God. (With our physical bodies we can’t touch, see, or hear God, but we can touch, see, and hear the Bible.) 2) The fear that if any discrepancy is found in the Bible that would mean God was not real or that the Bible was not Holy. Well, I hope to dispel both of these ideas here. The Bible does contain hundreds of discrepancies. Yet God is very real, and the Scripture is Holy.

The Bible is inspired by God. It amazingly records and preserves the Hebrew/Jewish people’s history with God, the life and teachings of Jesus, and the beginnings of the Christian Church. Inspired, yes. There is, however, a critical difference between spiritual revelation and human words. Have you ever tried to put a spiritual revelation into words? One does not fit perfectly into the other, but words are all we have with which to communicate. The words of the Bible were mostly penned by writers who lived in close relationship to God, and were under some level of the power of the Holy Spirit as they wrote, but nowhere do we read that they were immaculately conceived, or that they were transfigured as they wrote. They were not perfect or omniscient people. Many of them made judgments in their lives for which they would be arrested today, and maybe even given the death penalty. They included adulterers, murderers, a former persecutor of Christians, . . . Despite their humanness, however, the writings they left us are the most valuable and precious tangible gift from God to us. An awe-inspiring set of writings that have revolutionized our world for many centuries. The all-time best-selling book worldwide, and with good reason!

Although most Christians have a Bible in their homes, however, only a small percentage of them ever read it from cover to cover. They claim its value. I’ve heard many say that if their house caught fire, their Bible would be the first thing they’d grab on the way out. Yet it has largely become an icon. They like to talk and read about what it says, but many Christians don’t pick up the actual Bible except to carry it under their arms when they go to church. Yet many of these same Christians are the most defensive of its perfection. Why? Because they have equated it with God. Many Christians, knowingly or unknowingly, worship the Bible. It has unknowingly become their idol, and the idea that the Bible might have a tiny error in it is as blasphemous to them as saying that God makes mistakes.

God does not make mistakes. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. God is not confined to or limited by our finite understanding of who God is. Nor is God confined to any writings, no matter how great and how inspired. Language is humanity’s means of communication. God is not confined to written or spoken human language. Humans, on the other hand, even when given a spiritual truth or revelation, can only process it through our own finite mental and spiritual understanding. Thus our attempts to explain will never be equal to God’s perfection. God inspired the writers of the Bible, but author it, God did not.

A present day example of this distinction: I visited a church where the pastor preached an inspired sermon. He was passionate about living for God, and his relationship with God was not questionable. He claimed God gave him his sermon, and I believe him. Yet, perhaps due to his level of education, his sermon did have a couple of errors. Not because God doesn’t know everything, but because the pastor doesn’t. Still God is using him, just as God amazingly chooses to work through such imperfect children as you and me!

The book we know as the Bible is actually not one book but a compilation of 66 different inspired writings, written in several different genres by many different authors over a span of many centuries. Some of these writings are personal letters. Others are books of poetry, or allegory, or law, or history, or prophecy . . ., each of which should, by nature of the genre, be read a little differently. The Biblical writers, just as writers today, wrote to and within the confines of the cultures of which they were a part.

Related: How Does a Red Letter Christian Read the Bible? – A Jesus Shaped Proposal

I have heard many Christians proclaim emphatically that the Scripture needs no interpretation, that it speaks for itself. As humans, however, there is no such thing as reading anything (the newspaper, the Bible, this blog . . .) without applying our own interpretation to that reading. We all read through the eyes and ears of our own education and experience. Most of us developed our own interpretations from those of our spiritual leaders past and present (pastors, teachers, parents, spouse . . .), although we may be totally unaware of their influence. All of us interpret, but not always responsibly. A most complete interpretation of each individual book of the Bible involves several questions, like:

Who wrote it?
When was it written? 
For what purpose was it written? 
To whom was it written? (Who was its intended audience?) 
What genre is it? 
What was the culture in which the author lived? 
What did the words mean in their original language? (If you have ever mastered a second language, you know that translation is definitely not an exact science.)
How would the original readers have understood it?

Question: "What is the difference between religion and spirituality?"
Answer: 
Before we explore the difference between religion and spirituality, we must first define the two terms. Religion can be defined as “belief in God or gods to be worshipped, usually expressed in conduct and ritual” or “any specific system of belief, worship, etc., often involving a code of ethics.” Spirituality can be defined as “the quality or fact of being spiritual, non-physical” or “predominantly spiritual character as shown in thought, life, etc.; spiritual tendency or tone.” To put it briefly, religion is a set of beliefs and rituals that claim to get a person in a right relationship with God, and spirituality is a focus on spiritual things and the spiritual world instead of physical/earthly things.


The most common misconception about religion is that Christianity is just another religion like Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. Sadly, many who claim to be adherents of Christianity do practice Christianity as if it were a religion. To many, Christianity is nothing more than a set of rules and rituals that a person has to observe in order to go to heaven after death. That is not true Christianity. True Christianity is not a religion; rather, it is having a right relationship with God by receiving Jesus Christ as the Savior-Messiah, by grace through faith. Yes, Christianity does have “rituals” to observe (e.g., baptism and communion). Yes, Christianity does have “rules” to follow (e.g., do not murder, love one another, etc.). However, these rituals and rules are not the essence of Christianity. The rituals and rules of Christianity are the result of salvation. When we receive salvation through Jesus Christ, we are baptized as a proclamation of that faith. We observe communion in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice. We follow a list of do’s and don’ts out of love for God and gratitude for what He has done.

The most common misconception about spirituality is that there are many forms of spirituality, and all are equally valid. Meditating in unusual physical positions, communing with nature, seeking conversation with the spirit world, etc., may seem to be “spiritual,” but they are in fact false spirituality. True spirituality is possessing the Holy Spirit of God as a result of receiving salvation through Jesus Christ. True spirituality is the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in a person’s life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Spirituality is all about becoming more like God, who is spirit (John 4:24) and having our character conformed to His image (Romans 12:1-2).

What religion and spirituality have in common is that they both can be false methods of having a relationship with God. Religion tends to substitute the heartless observance of rituals for a genuine relationship with God. Spirituality tends to substitute connection with the spirit world for a genuine relationship with God. Both can be, and often are, false paths to God. At the same time, religion can be valuable in the sense that it points to the fact that there is a God and that we are somehow accountable to Him. The only true value of religion is its ability to point out that we have fallen short and are in need of a Savior. Spirituality can be valuable in that it points out that the physical world is not all there is. Human beings are not only material, but also possess a soul-spirit. There is a spiritual world around us of which we should be aware. The true value of spirituality is that it points to the fact that there is something and someone beyond this physical world to which we need to connect.

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of both religion and spirituality. Jesus is the One to whom we are accountable and to whom true religion points. Jesus is the One to whom we need to connect and the One to whom true spirituality points. Are you interested in discovering true religion and true spirituality? If the answer is yes, please begin your journey on our webpage that describes receiving Jesus Christ as your Personal Savior - 

The well-known Germany-based, Ghanaian chief was bestowed with a very special honour recently, as the south-western city of Ludwigshafen awarded him one of its most prestigious honours, the Coat of Arms plaque.

“I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to Mr Céphas Bansah for his charitable and voluntary work in Ludwigshafen and to honour him with the coat of arms of the city of Ludwigshafen am Rhein,” Lord Mayor Jutta Steinruck said at the award ceremony.

Ms Steinruck (a member of the SPD) described Bansah as “an extraordinary personality from the middle of Ludwigshafen society”. Popularly called König Bansah in the German media, Togbe Ngoryifia Céphas Kosi Bansah, who is Ngoryifia (“developmental chief”) of his native  Gbi Traditional area of Hohoe in Ghana, was honoured for his many years of volunteer work in Ghana and Ludwigshafen.
Konig cephas bansah
The coat of arms of the city shield is a special honour. It is awarded for extraordinary and long-standing volunteer work “approximately once every two years”, as the city’s protocol chief, Marcel Jurkat, declared at the ceremony.

Bansah, who runs a car repair workshop in the city, is a well-regarded personality in Germany and he appears in sumptuous African robes and gold jewellery at official functions.

At the ceremony in the city hall of Ludwigshafen, the mayor narrated in a witty way how she met the Ghanaian chief for the first time.

“First, I stood in front of a locked door when I wanted to congratulate him on his birthday. He was shopping at Aldi. I was lucky at the second attempt, and I was even allowed to sit on the throne.”


“In 1970 I came to Ludwigshafen,” said Bansah. “I was sent here by my grandfather. First, I completed an apprenticeship as an agricultural machinery mechanic, then as a Master Craftsman for agricultural machinery and then as mechanic for vehicles.”

Under difficult conditions, the African chief opened a car workshop in the city. It took a while for German clients to accept him and have faith in his skills. Today he employs four technicians and four trainees.

“Ludwigshafen and I – that’s like a long marriage,” he said at the ceremony. Since his installation as a chief in Hohoe Gbi on 16 April 1992, he has had to devote much time and resources to the development of the town in eastern Ghana.

Thanks to Skype, WhatsApp and e-mail, the 70-year-old maintains an active contact with the 206,000-inhabitant town from Ludwigshafen. He is also often in Ghana, where he supports his people in many ways, building schools and hospitals, among others.

Despite his commitment to his people in Ghana, Bansah also volunteers in his adopted hometown of Ludwigshafen. For example, “Mit Rad und Tat” (a bicycle repair initiative), which supports refugees, has its headquarters in his workshop. “Yes, Ludwigshafen has also become my home. The people have helped me so much, so you have to give something back,” said the chief.

BY THE AFRICAN COURIER

Should corruption be seen as a moral issue? It often seems so, and that attitude is often reflected in how societies decide it should be dealt with – punishment through the legal system or the rule of law. In this worldview, corrupt acts are a well-thought out and premeditated way for people to capture resources which aren’t rightfully theirs.

There is another way of thinking about corruption, however, which says that the historical social and economic structures in a country create the conditions for corruption. While some forms of corruption do come down to sheer greed, in the wider scheme of how societies progress, corruption is a structural phenomenon – it is built into the structures around which politics in developing economies work, especially of redistribution. The work that the Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) Research Consortium does is designed to tease out whether, within existing realities, opportunities can be found to change incentives and behaviour to make a specific sector more productive, and therefore less corrupt.

To explore these seemingly opposite perspectives – the view that corruption is a moral issue and that corruption is a structural issue, we teamed up with Timothy Adewale, of the Nigerian NGO Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, or SERAP. SERAP has been working since 2004 to use human rights law to increase transparency, accountability and protect social and economic rights in Nigeria. SERAP has undertaken several major investigations of corruption scandals in Nigeria, as well high-profile legal cases. Challenging the daily reality of corruption in Nigeria, and bringing wrong-doers to light, is part of their model for change.

Here, Timothy Adewale discusses SERAP’s approach with Pallavi Roy, SOAS-ACE Research Director in Nigeria.

Pallavi: So, Timothy, if you were to ask the woman or man on the street in Nigeria, how do you think they’d see corruption – as a moral failing by a corrupt individual, or just how politics is played out in the country?

Timothy: Although morality is relative in Nigeria as in other parts of the world, most Nigerians know corruption when they see it. The problem is that corruption and fighting it has been well politicised thus making it seem to Nigerians that one is only corrupt when the ruling party/authorities in Abuja say so. For example, violations of traffic law are so rampant in Nigeria that nobody cares anymore. But the day the authorities decide to arrest someone for it, it is easy for people to conclude that there must be an ulterior motive for the arrest. So goes the story of corruption and its fight in Nigeria

Pallavi: Yes, and that’s when people stop buying into anti-corruption efforts or only pay attention to the more ‘sensational’ cases. But SERAP has done some very brave and important work to expose and prosecute corruption, within the Nigerian legal framework – how would you describe your theory of change?

Timothy: There is a legacy of corruption and impunity in Nigeria, exacerbated by prolonged military rule, unresponsive political systems, lack of accountability, limited civic space and weak judicial and legal systems, lack of political will to enforce decisions of the court, and all of these posing serious threats to citizens’ access to essential public services and human rights. There is also, as you pointed out, citizens’ apathy and limited participation in the fight against corruption.

At SERAP, our theories of change are aimed to address the fundamental governance and human rights issues, including by pushing for increased accountability for grand corruption; robust and effective legal and judicial systems that are able to hold leaders to account; improved access of citizens to information on the management of the country’s resources and improved citizens’ participation in the fight against corruption. Others are improvements of the accountability mechanisms to protect human rights and reduce abuse of public office for private gain.

Pallavi: At ACE, we tread a more nuanced line. Corruption is clearly a damaging phenomenon, and corrupt individuals shouldn’t be condoned or protected – but we also see clearly that corruption occurs so widely and is so resistant to change in developing economies like Nigeria because economic and political power are not aligned to protect formal rules (such as those to forbid public exploitation for private gain). The balance of power is maintained by ‘informal’ politics between patrons and clients, and informal decisions about how available resources should be shared.

Timothy: The problem with developing countries with the fight against corruption is that the most important thing to an average person is survival. So, whether you are fighting corruption or not, one must survive, thereafter you can talk about corruption. When government fails to pay salaries and pensions, people are then wired to do things to survive or “store for the future’’. Therefore, to Nigerians fighting corruption must translate into their socio-economic lives and development. It makes little sense to recover billions if the money recovered goes down the drain pipes again.

Pallavi: I couldn’t agree with you more on what you just said. Because it links to our work which says an impartial rule of law is only possible after countries have reached a certain level of development, and powerful productive organisations want a broad-based rule of law and not a selective one. But this transition is difficult to make for most developing countries including Nigeria, and the rule of law becomes selective, and top down vertical enforcement often fails leading to fatigue with ambitious anti-corruption efforts. Hence the need to look for ways where we can make sequential progress and where we can build coalitions of actors who see rule following in their interest and come together as horizontal enforcers.

But Nigeria has a vibrant media space, and political debates take place openly. Do you think anti-corruption will become an election plank in 2019 like in the last general elections? And more importantly, do you think corruption is treated as a key issue before elections but matters revert to the status quo after?

Timothy: Corruption without question will be an election plank just like it was the case in the 2015 general elections. However, citizens’ expectations in terms of what can be achieved at the level of prosecution of grand corruption cases, reducing the cost of governance, and improving the governance architecture, are pretty low. The key is for citizens to engage politicians, ask critical questions and ensure that corrupt politicians are not voted in, and to keep the momentum even after the elections. The campaign for good governance and accountability is a continuum and should be intensified by people holding politicians to their commitments made during the elections. Bottom-line: we need public/citizens’ ownership of the fight against corruption if the issue of corruption is be more than just election slogan. Otherwise, it will be business as usual and matters might indeed revert to the status quo.

Reflections: It is easy to understand the anger and frustration around corruption and anti-corruption policies, and it is undoubtedly justified. But just so one can provide the reassurance that policy can work, big bang ambitious reforms, while necessary cannot be sufficient to address issues at the sectoral level. This requires an understanding of motivations and incentives. Devising policy that changes those incentive structures in a way that people no longer need to be corrupt to benefit from the system is one way of ensuring some success in the highly fraught field of anti-corruption.

originally published on SOAS Blog on 6 December 2018

I had the privilege to attend the 2016 African Youth Education Awards (AYEA) in Hamburg which for me belongs to one of the well-organized events by the African Diaspora in Hamburg.

In terms of event management, the African Diaspora has constantly been linked to a clichee of disregard for time, ill-prepared programs, less attention to detail and unprofessionalism.

Traditionally, one can also argue that most African communities in Germany have placed much focus on socio-cultural programs (Outdoorings, Funeral Celebrations, Cultural Shows, etc.) to highlight their existence in the public domain.

I humbly want to proclaim that the AYEA program is now one of the leading platforms to showcase a different image of the African Diaspora in Germany.

My confidence in making such a proclamation thrives around my personal observations whilst attending the AYEA awards. Essentially, I'd restrict my opinions to the following:

Professionalism:
The organizers of the AYEA have clearly understood that the regard for punctuality directly translates into respect for participants and also lays the foundation for effectiveness.

The program started on time - which was the first surprise I took notice of- and it was executed within the allocated time. This brings to mind that I have to give a big credit to the 3 young African female moderators who combined glamour, professional expertise and resolute assertiveness to drive this event to the expected targets.

Attendance & Awards:
The AYEA program was patronized by signficant personalities from the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, representatives from the Hamburg Local Government, Embassy of Uganda, Notable Parliamentarians, Student Associations and many more distinguished individuals. For me, this platform delivered the ever so important avenue for vital engagements between the political divide in Germany and the African Diaspora. The presentations stressed the need for the African Diaspora to consolidate its position within the society at large by taking advantage of all integration avenues.

At the same time, the awards to our young African brothers and sisters can be seen as powerful motivation factors, however, I am of the view that they clearly depicted an increasing trend of the African youth walking a different path in comparison to the older generation. Specifically, this is an indication that they have embraced the idea that achieving excellence in education is a core prerequisite for career development and social integration in Germany.

The event sequence combining formal presentations, entertainment acts and motivational speeches were driven in a manner which captured my attention from beginning to end. Boredom factor was zero and I believe this is achievable through experience which the organizers have gained in the last couple of years. 

Writing your Story:
Unfortunately, Africans (both on the continent and in the diaspora) have never had the joy, resources and the platform to write and communicate their own history (culture, religion, traditions, etc.) to the rest of the world. This role has often been occupied by foreign media, especially western media who, evidently, have always presented Africans in the light of their own expectations, imaginations and purposes.

Going forward, this situation has to change and the AYEA showcased that this is a viable avenue for the African Diaspora to tell its own story.

Logistics, Hospitality and Services:
As a Professional Project Manager, I could see that a lot of planning, time, resources and engagements have been invested into this event or I'd say project.

The outcome was simply remarkable - participants neither noticed any technical issues nor logistical challenges.

On the other hand,  I thought the representation and involvement of the African Diaspora in Hamburg leaves much to be desired. Yes, more hands on deck! Hamburg has the largest number of Africans in Germany and I am convinced they could put more resources together to expand the dimensions of this event. I'd also expect to see more African businesses in Hamburg taking up the role of sponsors for this event.

By Alex Kofi Appiah PMP
Senior IT Project Manager
Essen, Germany

TopAfric Media Network

The KidsRadio project aims at strengthening the self-confidence of children and young adults.  It is designed to offer the participants a platform where they can learn how to be radio presenters. It is a way to help them decide early on what they wish to pursue in life.

The Ultimate goal is for one or two extraordinary talented kids to have their own radio program at Radio TopAfric.

The program is design for kids and young adults between the ages of 10 -21, who want to run a radio program and become stars of tomorrow. It will also teach them how to blog as well.

The workshop which will run for 12 weeks and will accommodate about 6 participants every 4 weeks.  Workshop training will take place only on the weekends. So that means a batch of 6 participants will be trained in the first 4 weeks. Then after the 2nd   batch will start their training from week 5 – week 8.  Then the 3rd and final batch will start and end in week 9 - 12

The workshop will only last for 90 Minutes each Saturday. From 2pm – 3.30pm 

Module 1: Research & Interview:

A: We teach them how to research topics and personalities via the internet prior to hosting an interview or prior to doing a live show on radio.

B: We also teach them how to find topics of interest.

C: We teach them how to work in groups and also how to ask the right questions? 

Module 2: Promo & Equipment

A: We teach them how to promote themselves through social media

B: We teach them how to handle the Microphone and equipment

Module 3: Record live show & Blog

A: We teach them how to record a live radio show

B: We teach them what needs to be done after ending a live radio show and also how to post a recorded show on a blog site as well as how to blog.

Cooperation Partner:
Our co-operation partner is LUKULULE e.V. They will provide a network of young artists and professional artists that will be helping TopAfric and participants. For example, a play coach will work with our participants so that the participants will be strengthened for a live online show.

The participant will be glad to be part of this one time experience, after the course, all participants will receive a certificate from TopAfric.

The workshop is led by Jesse Georgy, a journalist from NDR, who has experience in team leadership at the Lukukule e.V. 

The workshop is expected to start in January and end in March 2017. The program is sponsored by Aktion-Mensch and supported by Lukukule e.V. & TopAfric e.V. 

Visit: http://www.kids-radio.org for registration or call 017632140550
Like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KidsRadio-1793356290917430/

Mr. Smith - We have to talk! So heisst die neue Radioshow bei TopAfric die Montag bis Freitag ab dem 12.01.2017 um jeweils 15:00 Uhr ausgestrahlt wird. Moderiert wird die Sendung von dem selbst ernannten "Gentleman of Talk" Shadon Smith (30), der sich mit vielen Themen auseinandersetzt die unsere heutige Gesellschaft betreffen. 

Themen wie z.B. die Frage nach der Rollenverteilung zwischen Männern und Frauen im 21. Jahrhundert. Gehören Frauen hinter dem Herd während der Mann das Geld verdient, oder geht die Frau arbeiten und der Mann zieht sich die Kochschürze an? Brauchen Frauen heutzutage überhaupt noch einen Mann für ein glückliches Familienleben? "Mr. Smith - We have to talk!". Neben den Sozialen Themen werden auch politische Themen behandelt wie die Frage nach Donald Trump: Kann es mit ihm besser werden? "Mr. Smith - We have to talk!".

Moderiert wird frei aus dem Bauch heraus, wobei auch die Interaktion mit den Zuhörern ein wichtiger Bestandteil der Sendung ist. Die Radioshow steht unter dem Motto "Deine Meinung zählt". Somit sind alle Zuhörer bei Mr. Smith - We have to talk! aufgerufen sich zu den Themen zu beteiligen und über die Studiohotline mitzureden.

Euch erwartet eine unterhaltsame Show mit angenehmer RnB und Hip Hop Musik aus den 90er bis 2000er Jahre, ebenso viel Charme und Emotionen in den Moderationen. We have to talk!
http://topafric.com/index.php/online-live-radio
Thomas Rudd

A new discovery could explain why obese people are more likely to develop cancer, scientists say. A type of cell the body uses to destroy cancerous tissue gets clogged by fat and stops working, the team, from Trinity College Dublin, found.

Obesity is the biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK after smoking, Cancer Research UK says.  And more than one in 20 cancer cases - about 22,800 cases each year in the UK - are caused by excess body weight.  Experts already suspected fat sent signals to the body that could both damage cells, leading to cancer, and increase the number of them.

Now, the Trinity scientists have been able to show, in Nature Immunology journal, how the body's cancer-fighting cells get clogged by fat. And they hope to be able to find drug treatments that could restore these "natural killer" cells' fighting abilities.

'Lose some weight'

Prof Lydia Lynch said: "A compound that can block the fat uptake by natural killer cells might help.  "We tried it in the lab and found it allowed them to kill again.

"But arguably a better way would be to lose some weight - because that is healthier for you anyway." Dr Leo Carlin, from the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, said: "Although we know that obesity increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer, we still don't fully understand the mechanisms underlying the link.

"This study reveals how fat molecules prevent immune cells from properly positioning their tumour-killing machinery, and provides new avenues to investigate treatments. "A lot of research focuses on how tumours grow in order to find metabolic targets to stop them, so this is a reminder that we should consider the metabolism of immune cells too."

Four years ago a publication was made Ghanaians living in Hamburg, Germany demanding answers from authorities about the rampant death of their countrymen. Years have passed but the toll of such deaths has neither ceased nor decreased. It is clear that death is inevitable but the frequency and circumstance is what is worrying.

It is upon this back drop that a discussion on that topic was held on the health show hosted by Effya on TopAfric radio and was covered by the NDR Das. This could be a huge step to drawing the attention of the right authorities to come to the aid of the Ghanaian community.

Within the public sphere the theory such as doctors intentionally killing their victims is purported to be one of the causes of such deaths.

During the radio discussion the following factors were enumerated to be possibly contributing to such premature death; Irresponsible self medication, unhealthy and sedentary life styles, physical inactivity, under utilisation of the health care system, religious and cultural beliefs and practices, ignorance and lack of information, double and quadruple jobs to cater for families and acquisitions of properties back home, genetics, environment etc. 

Recommendations to counteracting the problem will be to negate the above enumerated possible causes.

 As public Health scientists we see the issue as public health emergency which threatens the human security within the Ghanaian community in Hamburg. An anecdotal evidence of the issue at stake could be true but not enough deal with the problem.

To a achieve the desired result, a holistic approach is needed hence an urgent need for scientific research that encompasses needs assessments , data collection, analysis  and findings to draw and implement a comprehensive public health intervention which is participatory and culturally tailored to mitigate the problem.

The negative impacts of the continuous premature death of Ghanaians cannot be overemphasised. It affects the families and society at large as well as the economy here in Germany and Ghana. For this reason we would like to call on stakeholders to support the worthy course by funding such project. We are looking up to the Ghana Embassy, German Health ministry and other such interested institutions to heed to this call so as to ensure that such premature deaths would be a thing of the past through the implementation of public health interventions.
Ghanaians dying premature in Hamburg!!!

Aileen Ashe (Public Health scientist and language and culture mediator)
Ursula D’Almeida (pharmacist and  Public Health Scientist)

There is hardly anything that contributes to a better mood or offers more fun than one of the most beautiful pastimes in the world. But the importance of a healthy and regular sex life really is often underestimated.

Here are eight good reasons why you should not neglect your sex life. Because this is what happens to your body when you stop having sex:
Why a healthy sex life not only ensures a good mood

1. You get sick more often

If you don’t have sex for a long time, your immune system becomes significantly weaker. Germs then have an easier job of spreading in your body and you can catch a cold or get the flu more easily. So, just by having more sex, you can help keep your herbal remedy teas in the closet!

2. Your stress levels increase

Sex is a great way to reduce your stress levels. Regular sex reduces the amount of stress hormones and makes you feel more relaxed in everyday life. Without this important balance, you could become a ticking time bomb!

3. It’s harder for you to get aroused

It’s hard to believe, but true: If you don’t regularly “practice,” it’s difficult for a lot of people to become aroused. Men can experience problems having erections and it can be harder for women to have an orgasm. So, you have to stay on top of things to make sure the “switch” always remains on.

4. Your dreams change
Some people suddenly notice that they have strange dreams when their sex life is suffering. It can mean that you unexpectedly start dreaming about sex or have orgasms in your sleep.

5. Over time you lose your desire to have sex

If your body notices that you’re having a prolonged dry spell in the sexual sense, the production of sex hormones reduces. You feel less like having sex if you have been abstinent for a while. In addition, your libido will eventually feel different. And this is all due to the fact that your sex hormones are slowly vanishing.

6. You’ll feel more distance between your partner and yourself

When a couple in a relationship only rarely sleep together, their interpersonal distance becomes greater. You may start to have feelings of uncertainty related to your partner and other people will seem more attractive to you.

7. It lowers your feeling of self-worth

It is not surprising that a person’s self-worth is harmed, if that individual does not regularly feel desired. But a lack of sex has been proven to affect a person’s well-being, leading to sadness or depression when sex is absent from their lives. Studies have shown that having sex regularly helps fight depression. It can sometimes even work as well as antidepressants.

8. Your risk of cancer increases

For men, the risk of prostate cancer increases when they don’t have sex for a longer period of time. So it’s not a bad idea for men to “flush out” the pipes. Because then the risk is significantly reduced.

Well, if all this isn’t motivation enough, then I don’t know what is! For all these reasons, it would be almost irresponsible not to make love more regularly, don’t you think?!

Source: hefty.com

This article was first published in 2014! 
The rate at which Ghanaians are dying prematurely in Hamburg -Germany is alarming and it is time authorities begin to ask questions and provide answers. Life expectancy has improved tremendously in Germany over the years.

In 2012 the life expectancy in Germany increased to about 81.00 years. That for women was at 83.30 years and for men 78.60 years. If statistics available to TopAfric is correct, the Ghana community buried over 30 people 2014, burried 46 people in 2016. As at Nov 2018, more than 30 Ghanaians have been burried. The average age was just around 45 years.                                                                   

The irony is that Ghanaians are dying more than all other Black -/Africans in Hamburg put together. Yes the wages of life is death, but when Ghanaians find themselves in a country with better health infrastructures then they should live longer.

Ghanaians in Hamburg are definitely doing something wrong because even in Ghana, where the rate of avoidable death (drinking and driving, bad roads, no road signs, poor medication, bribery at hospitals or unavailability of medical care) is high the folks are living longer.

Life expectancy in Ghana as at 2012 is about 61 years, so why this high rate of death in Germany.Why the community awaits the results from the authorities to guide the people as to what is wrong and what can be done better. The following unscientific assumptions are making the air waves.

There is this weird speculation that the “Alster River” dislikes this black clothing’s of Ghanaians, the people are therefore disregarding the gods of the river. “The gods are not to blame”.

Ghanaians in Hamburg love burials and funerals above everything; they are seen every week organizing funerals of relatives that have passed away far in Ghana. First the “One Week” and then the “Funerals”.

What you love most is what shall kill you!
There are times the cemetery worker asked if a prominent person or a star is dead. One jokingly said this is a confirmation of the high rate of unemployment amongst the Ghana community.

It would be in the interest of the community to discourage all imported funerals and mobilize the people only when one of the inhabitants dies in Hamburg. The traumatic lifestyle; high divorce rate,  inability to cope with the structured German routine, the bureaucracy, the bad eating habits –eating heavy “fufu” at mid nights, disregard for good health, could be a contributing factor...

Husbands and wives building separate mansions through their menial job, to impress family members back home. Unfortunately 90% do not even sleep in these homes before the lucky ones join the colleagues at “Hamburg -Friedhof Ohlsdorf (Kapelle 10) “the biggest cemetery in the World.

One insanity is changing trains and busses on weekends from funerals and parties to another, sadly incorrectly dressed during the winter season. It is time the Ghana Union and opinion leaders stamp their authority, coordinate all social activities, ban one week funerals and imported funerals.

Whilst we all undertake weekly sporting activities, we encourage the Ghana Embassy in Berlin and the Ghana Union in Hamburg to seek from the German authorities the causes of these premature deaths and make public the findings, -names anonymous.

With all things being equal Ghanaians in Germany can live to be 81 years.

God Bless Ghana! 
God Bless Germany
Desmond John Beddy

Obesity is a growing problem within the African/Black community in Germany and Europe at Large.
With foods such as Fufu, Rice, Yam, Plantains as the staple unit, it makes it easy for Africans to gain weight so easily.

Akoto Degross was an obese individual who lived in Hamburg, Germany for a while where he was attending University and it was during this period that he decided to make a drastic change in his obese life by loosing half his body weight.

He had tried numerous times to loose weight but not until he lost his mother did he buckle up and strictly jump into loosing weight and living a healthier lifestyle.

In the video below, he discusses different reasons why Africans in the diaspora are over weight. He explained what they are doing wrong and how they can change and live better and healthier lives.

He also stated that the obesity epidemic is primarily rampant among the African Women in the diaspora.

He is an author and certified weight loss expert and runs a program called fat2fitghana (http://fat2fitghana.com/) which helps alot of people loose weight and live a healthier life style.

He has also written 2 books on how to loose weight.


1. 7 Simple steps to losing weight (http://amzn.to/2xcz8Wr)
2. Change what you eat Change how you look 
..Click this link to read it (http://amzn.to/2wKIHc7)

Insects are high in protein and minerals, need far less feed per kilo of mass than cattle do and produce far less greenhouse gas per kilo than pigs. A United Nations food agency is pushing a new kind of diet for a hungry world. It ranks high in nutritional value and gets good grades for protecting the environment: edible insects.

The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization hailed the likes of grasshoppers, ants and other members of the insect world as an underutilised food for people, livestock and pets. A new report says two billion people worldwide already supplement their diets with insects. Insects are high in protein and minerals, need far less feed per kilo of mass than cattle do and produce far less greenhouse gas per kilo than pigs.

While most edible insects are gathered in forests, the UN says mechanisation can boost insect-farming production. Currently most insect farming serves niche markets such as China.

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A new discovery could explain why obese people are more likely to develop cancer, scientists say. A type of cell the body uses to destroy cancerous tissue gets clogged by fat and stops working, the team, from Trinity College Dublin, found.

Obesity is the biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK after smoking, Cancer Research UK says.  And more than one in 20 cancer cases - about 22,800 cases each year in the UK - are caused by excess body weight.  Experts already suspected fat sent signals to the body that could both damage cells, leading to cancer, and increase the number of them.

Now, the Trinity scientists have been able to show, in Nature Immunology journal, how the body's cancer-fighting cells get clogged by fat. And they hope to be able to find drug treatments that could restore these "natural killer" cells' fighting abilities.

'Lose some weight'

Prof Lydia Lynch said: "A compound that can block the fat uptake by natural killer cells might help.  "We tried it in the lab and found it allowed them to kill again.

"But arguably a better way would be to lose some weight - because that is healthier for you anyway." Dr Leo Carlin, from the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, said: "Although we know that obesity increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer, we still don't fully understand the mechanisms underlying the link.

"This study reveals how fat molecules prevent immune cells from properly positioning their tumour-killing machinery, and provides new avenues to investigate treatments. "A lot of research focuses on how tumours grow in order to find metabolic targets to stop them, so this is a reminder that we should consider the metabolism of immune cells too."

A small ten year old Kenyan-German girl in Duisburg is dancing her way to become a European Dance Champion. At her age, Tracy Gathoni has mastered the art of hip hop street dance and is collecting trophies to prove it.
Tracy made her debut in competitive dance in 2012 at the United Dance Organization (UDO) championships in Glasgow-Scotland, and she has never looked back.
After that competition, Tracy’s mother saw her potential and enrolled her in dance classes in Duisburg with renowned trainer, Martina Böhm from TopDance. A course Tracy now attends once a week.
Daughter to a Kenyan lady, Diana Rose Wambui, Tracy has two brothers: 5-year-old Myles and 3-year-old Tyler. The boys have also taken a keen interest in dancing. In fact, Myles recently shared a stage with his sister at the UDO 2016 championships in Gladbeck, coming in at first place. “I had thought that the boys would be more interested in soccer and other sports, but apparently, they are taking after their sister”, Diana Rose says.
The dotting mother of three says that each child has an individual inborn talent that can be nurtured through encouragement and she is determined to support her daughter through it all.
Diana Rose works hard to ensure her daughter gets what she needs for the competitions. She says she would do whatever possible to ensure that her daughter attains her fullest potential in this sport she loves.
Her love for dance and diligence in practice has seen the 10 year-old-girl amass trophies from her spectacular performance. Most of the dances are solo, but she also in a duo with her 11-year-old best friend Aliyah Werner. Some of which are made carved into history on their Facebook page Tracy und Aliyah
Although she loves dancing she confesses to getting nervous before getting on stage. “Sometimes I have no routine at the start of the dance, but once the music begins playing, I gain my ground and dance away”, she explains. She is probably the youngest self-taught upcoming super dance star.
Her prowess on the dance floor has seen her gather about 30 trophies all won in the 1st position. In 2014 and 2015, she performed a solo at the world championships held in Scotland. She has also graced Das SuperTalent a renowned German talent show on RTL. Recently, a video of her performance at the European United Dance Organization-Germany went viral on YouTube.
Through her dancing Tracy has become a household name in NRW and specifically in Duisburg where she lives. The city Mayor (Bürgemeister) knows her personally and invites her to perform at various events.
And before you think dancing is all she does, Tracy recently joined Gymnasium from primary school. Gymnasium only takes the top cream and usually prepares children for an academic profession. The cheeky girl with a beautiful smile on her face says she has a timetable clearly making time for her books and dancing.
Unlike kids her age who would be excited about the fame and limelight, Tracy says she doesn’t flaunt it when she’s in school and rarely tells them what she does over the weekend. She reasons that dancing is her hobby and she would like it separate that from school.
Unlike her schoolmates who might not have an idea who she is in her other life, her brothers have not been spared from seeing her shine and they both believe she’s a star. “They believe Tracy is a star in dancing and no one can convince them otherwise”, Diana Rose beams.
One would have thought that Diana Rose would be applauded for her dedication to make her daughter a dance star, but she has received some backlash with some people accusing her of only focusing on Tracy while she has three children. But to her defence Diana Rose says that the boys are on the track of choosing what activities they love but as soon as they set their sights on something, she’ll be there supporting them. In the meantime, they enjoy emulating their sister, learning new moves and dance styles.
Diana Rose regrets that most Kenyan parents in Germany are so engrossed in work and the daily hustle and do not have time for their children.
“It is important to know what capabilities your child is displaying and support them to achieve their goals” she advices.
Surprisingly, Tracy is not convinced she will end up as a professional dancer, since her last trip to the Museum of Archaeology has convinced her that she would make a great archaeologist.

Source: http://mkenyaujerumani.de/

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