Go Africa, Go Germany

19.8.2009

Blog

Lagos, Nigeria
After getting a first impression of Lagos, a city with 18 Mio. inhabitants (bigger than 23 African states), the smallest state of Nigeria in terms of area, 224 cars per kilometer and, compared to that, insufficient infrastructure. In the morning we listened to a panel, which addressed exactly these issues. Probably, the replacement representative of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority is not to be envied for the task of providing public transportation for this ever growing city, which is supposed to reach the 35 Mio. mark by 2020 and it was surprising how optimistic his outlook was. Many within the group could not help smiling, when the powerpoint presentation showed pictures of the future rail and bus lines, which indicated very high ambition to put it mildly. On the other hand, we had learned from the Nigerians in our group that fast progress could indeed be seen on the streets of Lagos.

You could sense that Chief Mrs. Taiwo Taiwo, the second lecturer, also felt that progress is being made. Her focus, however, was distinctly more addressed to clearing the business district of waste, grasing cattle, pigs and meat sellers. Thus, she (as neither of the speakers) did not really had had a convincing answer, when she was asked about the future prospects of the less well-off inhabitants of these districts, even though her approach would fit into the sometimes much praised concept of civil society commitment.

From the huge challenges of a mega-city it was obviously quite a jump to the by no means lesser challenges of the remote areas of the Niger Delta, which were the topic of the second panel. Many of us had a vague idea about the situation in that region, but talking to a journalist, a scientist and a member of one of the various militant groups in the delta, it was even harder to understand why a region so rich in natural resources, especially oil, could face such a plight. With about 90% of GDP and export earnings relying on oil, what one of the lecturers referred to as "paradox of plenty" goes far beyond regional interests and has for many years shaped the Nigerian political, economical and social system. As if this was not complex enough, with oil importing countries and transnational companies heavily involved, it also reflects the downsides of global economy. So one can easily get an idea of what the contribution of west African-german partnership to these kind of problems could be about.

The rest of the day belonged to Nigerian popular culture, a topic some group members felt was lacking during the German part of the programme. In the afternoon, we went to a film post-production studio, which looked rather inconspicuous from the outside, but quite professional from the inside. Not only did it edit short movies. We were also shown an advertisement on HIV/Aids sensibilization, which had been sponsored by Shell, a company, we had already got to know in quite a different context during the earlier lecture on petro-politics. For dinner, we had invited some of the famous Nigerian actors, film directors, singers and producers. Thus, not only did we get the chance of learning the background of the re-birth of Nigeria´s film industry, which has by now become the second biggest in the world (we had prepared for that in Accra by watching "Silent Scandals" parts 1 and 2, a truly enthralling three hour soap opera sibling), but also had lively discussions about intellectual property rights in communal societies and witnessed the beautiful singing voice of Yinka Davies. All in all, a day as extensive and diverse as you could wish for.
24.03.2010 from Liliane Uwimana and Alexander Schwartz

From Accra, Ghana to Lagos, Nigeria
The first part of the program and our stay in Ghana has come to an end today. After experiencing Ghana during the last 12 days we took the plane to Lagos. We all heard many stories about Nigeria and we are looking forward to dive into one of Africa´s most vibrant and impulsive mega-cities. A signboard at the international airport of Lagos says with overbearing self-esteem - unlike "Welcome to Accra, Nairobi" or any other African city - "THIS IS LAGOS!". Lagos is surrounded by water and we are privileged to take a boat ride to explore Africa's second largest city with an estimated population of 15 million people. From the lagoon we admire the sky scrapers that are so prominent for Lagos. On our way back to the hotel we get to know what rush hour means. The traffic is a unique experience as thousands of cars, motor-cycles, lorries and mini-busses struggle to find their way throughout the city.

Our hotel is like an oasis far away from the hectic and hassling traffic. The only thing that reminds us of being in Lagos is behind the high walls: the noise that comes from the street and the hot and polluted air when we step out of the air conditioned hotel. At the evening we experienced a great show of a young Nigerian performance group. The Crown Group consists of young students who present the Nigerian society and its problems in a very creative way. Stories about the young democracy, the destiny of the Nigerian Diaspora in Europe and North America, lack of common sense in society and the never-ending story about abundant resources give us a good overview about the challenges Nigeria is facing today. We're impressed about the creativity and energy of this uprising young intelligent generation.
23.03.2010 from Joseph Matimbwi and Fabian Kiehlmann

Nsawam; North of Accra, Ghana
Nsawam is predominantly an agrarian society. It is a town where large scale production of pineapple is done for both the local and the international market. The farmers are organized in cooperatives. The membership ranges between 50 and 70 people. Their farm produce are sold to export agents. In fact these agents serve as intermediairies between the producers and consumer from the international world. Their proceeds are invested in buying farm inputs like suckets, chemicals and as well as catering for variable expenditure.

The challenges that these farmers face include: lack of transportation, poor preservation due to their perishability, lack of access to information. The farmers recommended that government and other development agents assist them in micro credit and ready market.
22.03.2010 from James Natia Adam


Kumasi, Ghana
"Don´t cross your legs. You disrespect the chief." "Entschuldigung", antworten wir überrascht und stellen unsere Füße nebeneinander.Wir sitzen im Manhyia Palace und nehmen am Adae Festival teil. Um uns herum toben Trommeln, eine Frauengruppe, die singt und tanzt und lauter traditionell gekleidetes Gefolge eines Ashanti Königs.

Das Gefolge ist in traditionelle Gewänder gehüllt, die mich an Indien und Ghandi erinnern. Besonders beeindruckend ist der Chef-Exekuteur. Er tanzt über den Hof, bedeckt von einer Leoparden-Kappe und in den Händen einen Säbel, den er im Takt der Musik in den Schaft stößt. Dem Spektakel, das wie aus einer anderen Welt anmutet, war ein Vortrag über das "Chief-System" in Ghana vorangegangen und die gleiche Professorin erläuterte uns auch, warum die Frauen so herausgeputzt sind. Das Festival ist "time to show off". Unsere "Go Africa... Go Germany..."-Gruppe hat gute Plätze ergattert. Während die Ghanesen einfach ihren Gebräuchen nachgehen, sind die anwesenden Touristen von einer erstaunlichen Aufdringlichkeit, die an Paparazzi erinnert. Das Mittagessen, das für uns vorzüglich vorbereitet ist und vor den Toren des Palastes in Kühlboxen bereit steht, bleibt mir mehr oder weniger im Halse stecken, bei den ganzen Kinderaugen, die jeden Gabelbissen mit den Augen mitverfolgen, bis er im Mund verschwindet. An diesem schlechten Gefühl ändert sich auch nichts, als sie sich die Reste teilen. Einem unserer Teilnehmer werden in dem Gedränge 100 Cedi, ca. 50 Euro, aus der Hosentasche geklaut. Er bleibt gelassen. Er könne das verstehen, an einem Ort, wo die Kinder sich von den Resten anderer ernähren.


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