Articles

Workshop "Participate" - Reflections

A motivated and inspirational group of 30 young people with African origins from the United Kingdom (London, Essex, Edmonton and Mitcham) and Germany (Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich, Bamberg) came together for three days for the 1st workshop ‘Participate’ in Berlin.

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Picture: Participants in a Workshop Session


A Guided Tour through the Colonial Metropolis of Berlin, the so called ‘African Quarter’ illustrated the everyday presence of the colonial past. Like London and Paris, Berlin is a colonial metropolis - but unlike in these sister cities, this history is rarely officially acknowledged in the German capital.  Yet the cityscape is evidently shaped by colonial history and its present day trajectories. Up to the present day the colonial propaganda from the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich remains etched into Berlin’s cityscape. And until this day people in Berlin, Germany and Europe benefit – mostly unconsciously, yet daily and self-evidently – from colonial continuities shaping everyday life from the morning coffee to the colton in our smart phone.
The tour gave rise to discussions among the participants about their history, identity and everyday experiences as young people with African origins in the two European societies.
Issues of racism, discrimination and prejudice are evident in the daily lives of every young person but differences were noted about their manifestations and perceptions between the British and the German participants.

Generally, the group perceived racism in the UK to be more displayed in a more subtle manner; while being perceived more directly in Germany.

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British participants recognised that they face racism in UK albeit to a smaller extent than their European counterparts with some expressing that issues of racism cannot be said to have overtly affected their lives at work, school or socially; thus they have developed a resilient attitude towards the issues.  They did, conversely, accept that this could, perhaps, be the case only in multicultural cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester, but different in other parts of the country. Contrastingly, German participates - whether native or immigrants despite being born or having lived in Germany most of their lives - expressed that racism, for them, is a daily fight and directly affected their lives.
Thus it was difficult at first for the British participants to comprehend their views; but eventually understood the depth of pain caused by racism in Germany. It was also quite uneasy for German participants to grasp the composed attitude of the British group regarding the issue of racism.
Both groups agreed, however, that projects such as this one highlight the importance of sensitising youths in different European countries of cultural differences. Furthermore, both groups recognised that the issue of racism, discrimination and prejudice is to be addressed on a governmental or policy-making level rather than a social one in order to affect change and negate inequalities in our societies.
A visit to the Berlin organization ‘Each One Teach One’ illustrated a successful and functioning approach of empowering young people with African backgrounds. The same organization invited the group for their monthly ‘Black Friday’ where the young people had a good time of partying with other young African people from Berlin.
In the second part of the workshop, several young people gave inspiring presentations of their own engagements and actions in social and political participation in a variety of fields, such as democratic online tools; protection and care for children, vulnerable people, minorities; music instruction; community work and street mission; educational work in Kenia; social reintegration of juvenile youngsters; counselling of migrants; political and cultural education; website on the identity of people with African backgrounds in Germany.

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Picture: A Presentation

All these presentations and examples of social and political participation gave rise to the wish among the participants to connect further, share their experiences and learn from each other. The suggestion was made that a first step could be the opening of a Facebook group for the participants.

A session on ‘Life dreams’ and how they can become reality, led by one of the participants, inspired the young people to think about and share their experiences with challenging stages of their lives, strategies to overcome such and grow at individual levels.

After many suggestions for follow-up projects came up during the discussions, the last session was dedicated to collecting all the ideas the participants have for potential projects they would like for the group to initiate. Among these suggestions, the young people mentioned to initiate workshops in schools with younger children in order to put away with prejudice and prevent racism; to extend the project to other countries where young people of African origins should be empowered as well and where the exchange can generate deeper knowledge about each other; to extend the project to younger people of African origins and empower them; to bring in role models of Color who should empower the participants; to initiate mentorship programs for youngsters of Color and to support young people in gaining knowledge about the history of people from Africa all over the world. Furthermore, there were several suggestions for follow-up projects with African countries, for example to organize for young Europeans with African origins to go to Africa in order to learn about their history; to help young people from Africa to come to Europe for internships and other activities; to organize a ‘gap period’ for young Europeans with African origins to go to Africa for social engagement; or to organize an empowerment tour through an African country, e.g. Zambia.

At the end of the workshop, quite a number of issues remained open and will be subject of the 2nd workshop to take place in London which all participants are already looking forward for.



A motivated and inspirational group of 30 young people with African origins from the United Kingdom (London, Essex, Edmonton and Mitcham) and Germany (Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich, Bamberg) came together for three days for the 1st workshop ‘Participate’ in Berlin.
A Guided Tour through the Colonial Metropolis of Berlin, the so called ‘African Quarter’ illustrated the everyday presence of the colonial past. Like London and Paris, Berlin is a colonial metropolis - but unlike in these sister cities, this history is rarely officially acknowledged in the German capital.  Yet the cityscape is evidently shaped by colonial history and its present day trajectories. Up to the present day the colonial propaganda from the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich remains etched into Berlin’s cityscape. And until this day people in Berlin, Germany and Europe benefit – mostly unconsciously, yet daily and self-evidently – from colonial continuities shaping everyday life from the morning coffee to the colton in our smart phone.
The tour gave rise to discussions among the participants about their history, identity and everyday experiences as young people with African origins in the two European societies. Issues of racism, discrimination and prejudice are evident in the daily life of each of the young people but differences were noted about their manifestations and perceptions between British and Germany participants. In general, the group perceived racism in the UK to be more subtle, while it is perceived as more direct in Germany.
A visit to the Berlin organization ‘Each One Teach One’ illustrated a successful and functioning approach of empowering young people with African backgrounds. The same organization invited the group for their monthly ‘Black Friday’ where the young people had a good time of partying with other young African people from Berlin.
In the second part of the workshop, several young people gave inspiring presentations of their own engagements and actions in social and political participation in a variety of fields, such as democratic online tools; protection and care for children, vulnerable people, minorities; music instruction; community work and street mission; educational work in Kenia; social reintegration of juvenile youngsters; counselling of migrants; political and cultural education; website on the identity of people with African backgrounds in Germany.
All these presentations and examples of social and political participation gave rise to the wish among the participants to connect further, share their experiences and learn from each other. The suggestion was made that a first step could be the opening of a Facebook group for the participants.
A session on ‘Life dreams’ and how they can become reality, led by one of the participants, inspired the young people to think about and share their experiences with challenging stages of their lives, strategies to overcome such and grow at individual levels.
After many suggestions for follow-up projects came up during the discussions, the last session was dedicated to collecting all the ideas the participants have for potential projects they would like for the group to initiate. Among these suggestions, the young people mentioned to initiate workshops in schools with younger children in order to put away with prejudice and prevent racism; to extend the project to other countries where young people of African origins should be empowered as well and where the exchange can generate deeper knowledge about each other; to extend the project to younger people of African origins and empower them; to bring in role models of Color who should empower the participants; to initiate mentorship programs for youngsters of Color and to support young people in gaining knowledge about the history of people from Africa all over the world. Furthermore, there were several suggestions for follow-up projects with African countries, for example to organize for young Europeans with African origins to go to Africa in order to learn about their history; to help young people from Africa to come to Europe for internships and other activities; to organize a ‘gap period’ for young Europeans with African origins to go to Africa for social engagement; or to organize an empowerment tour through an African country, e.g. Zambia.
At the end of the workshop, quite a number of issues remained open and will be subject of the 2nd workshop to take place in London which all participants are already looking forward for.

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