How modern is the infrastructure of Tanzania

History Garden Germany-Tanzania The heavy legacy of the German colonial era

Jenfeld, in the east of Hamburg: Parts of the district are considered to be a social hotspot. In a small park there are memorials and sculptures of German colonial history, hidden and inconspicuous under tall trees. The entrance gate to the site has been locked for years, the weeds are high. Here the Free and Hanseatic City wants to critically review the German colonial era in Africa. As the very first city in Germany, says Enno Isermann, press spokesman for the responsible Hamburg cultural authority:

"The entire topic of colonial reappraisal in no way does not have a correct, well-founded basis in Germany or in Hamburg. There are always initiatives that have rightly pointed out: We have to take on this topic."

The former German East Africa once comprised the present-day countries Burundi, Rwanda and Mozambique, but above all Tanzania. The so-called protective troops of the emperor stood here between 1885 and 1918, led by officers such as Hermann von Wissmann and Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck. The barracks next to the park was named after him. Only remnants are left of her today.

"Now we have to make sure that this name is also critically embedded, that people don't just go by and say the name is xyz, but are forced - in quotation marks - to grapple with the critical history of this name."

Planned as Tanzania Park in 2003, the project was unfortunate from the start. Two large reliefs made of terracotta in particular met with extremely controversial echoes: One shows four black askaris humbly following a German officer. African soldiers who served colonial powers such as Germany, Great Britain or Belgium were referred to as askaris. The second relief shows four black porters accompanying a local askari.

Relief from the Nazi era

All of the figures have sharply cut, expressionless facial features. The sculptor Walter von Ruckteschell, himself a member of the colonial troops, created the reliefs in 1938 during the Nazi era. The lettering on the reliefs - "Schutztruppe 1914 to 1918" and "Deutsch-Ostafrika" - as well as the time of their execution make it clear: Here, German campaigns during the First World War in East Africa are embellished ideologically. Campaigns in which around half a million Africans lost their lives.

Protests against the exaggeration of German masters as leaders of local workers accompanied the project. In 2003, demonstrators took to the park with posters to commemorate the atrocities of the colonial occupiers. One day before the opening of the park, an alliance of Hamburg initiatives unceremoniously renamed the area in a symbolic action: "Mohammed Hussein Bayume Park" read on a white sign - in memory of a man who was born in Dar es Salaam in 1904:

A German government official on a trip to the interior of Cameroon. (picture alliance / dpa) Bayume Mohammed Hussein served in the First World War as a child soldier in the so-called Schutztruppe under General von Lettow-Vorbeck and later came to Germany. He settled in Berlin and married a Sudeten German woman. In order to improve the living conditions for himself and his family in Nazi Germany, he actively positioned himself in the neo-colonial movement. Nevertheless, Bayume was arrested by the Gestapo in 1941 and murdered in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1944. Today a stumbling block in Berlin-Mitte reminds of Bayume.

His fate is "exemplary for that of many black people in the Third Reich," wrote the Hamburg initiators in 2003. This was to remember the victims of colonial exploitation and racial violence. The Tanzanian President finally canceled his attendance for the inauguration and the Senate thereupon the inauguration itself. For many years there was silence in the park.

Critics such as the Society for Threatened Peoples see the dark epoch of German colonial history in the monuments. They expressed both colonial revisionist and National Socialist views of the loyalty and obedience of the black soldiers to the white leader, according to the afrika-hamburg initiative. In the meantime, Hamburg is shaping its relations with Tanzania and Dar es Salaam in a more contemporary way, says Enno Isermann: Since July 2010 there has been a city partnership between the metropolis on the Elbe and the one on the Indian Ocean.

"The idea of ‚Äč‚Äčthis town twinning is that we have the Eurocentric view that we have often had or still have on our history, that we want to break it open. That we not only want to see what colonial history looks like here, but also want to see with the people in Tanzania, with the university in Dar es Salaam, how is the story being discussed in your country. Where do you stand today, what do you expect from us? "

Dar es Salaam is Hamburg's twin city

The Azania Front Church is the most beautiful church in Dar es Salaam. The church with its red tile roofs was built in 1898 by the German colonial community. Every Sunday the Lutheran congregation celebrates church service. The gospel chants can already be heard from outside. The city partnership between Hamburg and Dar es Salaam, two large trading cities, encourages him, says Alex Malasusa, the bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania:

"There are a lot of similarities between Darresalam and Hamburg. Both are large port cities. Dar es Salaam is a gateway for Tanzania and East Africa as a whole, but also for Hamburg to Africa. The people of both cities have to get to know each other, then they can learn from each other offers a unique opportunity for that. "

Nevertheless, it was bumpy from the start: While the Hamburg side often quarreled with contacts in Dar es Salaam who changed quickly and suddenly, the Tanzanian partners hoped for more financial and economic commitment from the alliance, even though Germany and the EU were spending a lot of money in Tanzania as Bishop Malasusa recognizes. There is indeed Hamburg support for the fire brigade in Tanzania's seat of government, the exchange of theater groups and visits from politicians, church representatives and historians. In September 2014, a town twinning week took place in Hamburg, which was organized by groups, initiatives and citizens of both metropolises. But much more than a part-time representative of the Elbe metropolis in Dar es Salaam on a tight budget does not seem possible at the moment.

Daniel Sempeho works at the Goethe Institute in Dar es Salaam. He is sitting in the small lecture hall of the unadorned bungalow in the quiet Upanga district:

"I think many Tanzanians are no longer aware that the Germans were here as occupiers. So were the British, they were also occupiers here. I would also say that very few people are interested in it. People now have much more to do with the present. There are so many challenges that a normal Tanzanian has no time to look back that far. There are politicians who blame all bad things on the colonial occupiers. But people are more vigilant now. They know you can't blame all problems on the colonial times. I think that time was both. When you talk to people who are much older than me, who also lived through this time. You speak of the Germans as very authoritarian, the people But you shouldn't forget that it was also the Germans who promoted the Swahili language a lot, and it was at this time that the first Swahili dictionary was written n was. That had positive effects. And that is in contrast to Kenya, for example, where Swahili is not so well established as the national language. For me it was a positive aspect. "

It is surely surprising to German ears how little thought is wasted on the old days in Tanzania. Sempeho adds that we live more in today than in yesterday: What was in the past does not matter.

Little interest in the past

Abdallah Ulimwengu sees it very similarly. The 39-year-old is sitting under a huge baobab tree in Bagamoyo. The small town, 70 kilometers north of Dar es Salaam on the coast, was once the first capital of German East Africa and one of the most important trading ports. Ulimwengu guides tourists through Bagamoyo as a city guide. Now he's taking a break. A German tour group is meanwhile roaming through an abandoned colonial villa in one of the oldest settlements in Tanzania. Ulimwengu explains how people in the country think about the German colonial era:

"The Tanzanians have no negative feelings. The Germans were only here for a very short time and have achieved a lot, especially with the colonial infrastructure. By the way, more than the British. There are, for example, many things that are still in use today The big difference is that this was a colony for the Germans, while the British only managed it as a protectorate and didn't build anything themselves. Of course, the railroad lines were built back then to exploit the country's natural resources. But now we can still do them It's lucky for us, although it had a different purpose back then. But the Germans are no longer here. We have a school here in Bagamoyo, where Arabs, Africans and Indians were able to study together for the first time built by the Germans in 1896 and still exists. "

The Mwambao Primary School has been rebuilt and established since 2003 thanks to a partnership with the Marienschule in Ahlen and a German circle of friends. Around 700 students are taught there in seven years - among them 300 AIDS orphans:

Graves for German soldiers who fell in East Africa in World War I at the military cemetery in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. (picture alliance / dpa / Carola Frentzen) "Mwambao means located on the coast. That is why the school was named that way. The government does set up schools here, but often does not build any buildings for teaching. It was simply a ruin here. Now we have a two-story schoolhouse. And that's very modern compared to what the government normally builds. "

While Tanzanians proudly speak of their still functioning railway line, which the German colonialists once laid inland, as an achievement, memories of Hitler's autobahn construction are more likely to awaken in this country. Abdallah Ulimwengu:

"The young Tanzanians don't know much about the colonial past. That's because the British introduced their own school system at the time. They weren't interested in us being reminded of the past. Therefore, most of them don't know anything about it. For For me, the whole colonial era is simply the past, part of history. For the young Tanzanians this is no longer an issue, forgotten. But I find history exciting because of it. And without any resentment, because only with it we understand where we are going today have to."

The colonial era is history, no longer an issue, that's how the tour guide Abdallah Ulimwengu sees it. Then he looks over at his guests, who are just stepping out of the half-ruined city villa. The sun throws its rays through the filter that the canopy of the palm trees spans over them. The tour of Bagamoyo continues.

Tanzanian historian criticizes handling of colonial times

Viewed from Tanzania's everyday life, the dispute over the memorial in distant Hamburg seems like a very academic, very German affair. And so it is perhaps no coincidence that it is a history professor emeritus in Dar es Salaam who hooks right there. Kapepwa Tambila sits in the university cafeteria just outside the city. A white-haired man over 70 who never leaves the house without a suit, even in the heat:

"I am not very different from those Germans who describe our common history as problematic. For the relations between colonizers and colonized have always been very unequal. This applies to German colonial rulers as well as to British, French, Belgian and Italian. They all depressed areas that did not belong to them, abandoned their rules - and that against the will of those who lived there. I want this colonization not to be forgotten. The very violent treatment of German protection forces with the African population has not yet been dealt with in any way. "

It bothered him when Tanzanians and Germans ignored their common history without hesitation. Because colonization was not an invitation to a tea party:

"When Carl Peters, the German colonialist, Africa explorer and racist came to Bagamoyo, he signed forged treaties with some of the tribal chiefs who had no idea what they were actually signing. With these forgeries, Peters claimed the land of the tribes without claiming them Nobody does that. That's how we have to look at it. The people of that time are all dead, but history is preserved by historians and must be questioned by them. That is their job. "

Professor Tambila believes that Europeans still have a strange picture of their colonial rule in Africa in their heads:

"In 1984 I was invited to Germany on the occasion of the anniversary of the Congo Conference, in which the Europeans had actually divided Africa between themselves 100 years earlier. There was constant talk of 100 years of partnership. I think that is a very incorrect presentation of the facts . "

He still sees a lot of catching up to do, says historian Tambila. Tourist guide Abdallah Ulimwengu, on the other hand, thinks that history should finally rest and be happy about its use for the present - the fact that tourists visited the sites that were once important for the distant land in Europe a long time ago. In a small cemetery right on the beach in Bagamoyo there are some gravestones of Germans who were buried here at the end of the 19th century and who are now resting in peace. Palm trees rustle in the wind, the beach begins right behind the small wall that surrounds the colonial cemetery. The muezzin's prayers waft from the mosque.

In Hamburg-Jenfeld, too, peace and harmony should finally return to the topic of memorials. After years of back and forth about the type and equipment of the Tanzania Park, it was recently renamed. In the clumsy language of Political Correctness it is now called "History Garden Germany - Tanzania. Memorial Site of German Colonialism in Africa":

"We have now made 410,000 euros available, with which we primarily want to advance the scientific processing. And that can certainly only be the first step for now."

Explains Enno Isermann, press spokesman for the Hamburg cultural authority. According to the Senate resolution of July 2014, half of the amount is earmarked for a research center on Hamburg's colonial history. In addition, funds are planned for a tandem doctoral scholarship to allow a German and Tanzanian doctoral student to develop, among other things, the missing African perspective, which apparently hardly anyone in today's Tanzania misses. The remaining funds are available for a conference as well as the maintenance and care of the Jenfeld green area and the Askari reliefs. Whether all of this can succeed over the years with a budget of just 410,000 euros seems questionable - on top of that, there is ...

"Then there are other aspects that the State Center for Political Education - also overdue - deals with the street names in Hamburg and looks at the colonial history behind them. Do we have to rethink certain street names? We in Hamburg are also big ones Profiteers of colonialism. "