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DW’s New Series “Shadows of German Colonialism” Sheds Light On Germany’s Role in African History

DW‘s new history series explores the legacy of German colonialism in Africa. Looking at it from an African perspective, the ten episodes describe how Germany joined the scramble late, met fierce resistance, and descended into exploitation and violence. The videos and the audio podcasts also look at how Germany’s colonialism is still felt today.

The ten episodes showcase important German and African players in a multimedia project that is a collaboration between DW, the Nigerian animation company The Comic Republic and the German Foreign Office who funded the project. The series highlights different aspects of German colonialism in Africa and makes it tangible. Together, the short stories create a comprehensive picture of the burdensome legacy left by German colonial rule. The German Empire had acquired territories that today belong to the modern countries of Togo and Ghana (“Togoland”), Cameroon and Nigeria (“Kamerun”), Namibia (“German South West Africa”), Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania (“German East Africa”). German rule there lasted from 1884 to 1918.

“Shadows of German Colonialism” builds on the experience DW gained in previous year by producing the popular multimedia series “African Roots“. The new series will be distributed in six languages (Kiswahili, Hausa, Amharic, English, French and Portuguese) on DW programs and social media platforms and through some 300 media partners in Africa.

Claus Stäcker, Director of DW Programs for Africa, stresses that the colonial past affects the relationship between Africa and Germany until today: “We have the borders that were drawn on the drawing board back then, which still exist today. There are the looted cultural assets and even mortal remains in German museum cellars.” For decades these topics were discussed only among experts, Stäcker adds and deplores a big lack of knowledge, both on the African as well as on the German side: “With Shadows of German Colonialism, DW ventures a piece of enlightenment – for the sake of the future. The animated vertical videos are aimed at the smartphone generation in terms of style and storytelling.”

Speaking on the illustrations used, Jide Martin, CEO of Comic Republic, whose artists turned the historic events into drawings, said: “There are painful parts of our African history most of us would rather forget. However, it is pertinent that we look to the past and reflect on not just the good parts, the bad parts as well, to inform future decisions. Our collective future is better informed when we reflect on ways to move forward stronger and build a better society”. The drawings of the video reels counteract the pictures that were taken more than a century ago and usually reflect a European perspective.

The scripts produced by DW were screened by an advisory board of renowned historians: Prof. Lily Marfela (University of Botswana), Dr. Kwame Osei Kwarteng (University of Cape Coast, Ghana), and Reginald E. Kirey (University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania). Kirey lauds: “DW is doing a great effort to educate Tanzania and German communities on various aspects of German colonial history in Tanzania mainland. This is a commendable project which will go a long way in raising the public awareness of German colonial history in Germany and Tanzania.”

Deutsche Welle reaches 91 million Sub-Saharan users weekly through online, social media, radio and TV. In a global comparison, Africa is the region with the highest number of DW users

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