Africa and Europe – how history still influences today

Allow cyclic migration

I would like to make one more point. I don’t think we’ve mentioned migration yet. Migration in the sense of mobility is part of the history of the African continent. Mobility is part of it, also as a tool to learn, to get resources and to return to where people come from to build something there. In that sense, I am in favor of Europe, as a response to the so-called migration crisis – which is, after all, a migration crisis created by Europe – finally having to stop controlling, regulating and preventing migration. Instead, it must enable migration, because that is sort of the norm in African history. People don’t necessarily leave to settle elsewhere, they circulate. And this circular mobility, also between Africa and Europe, must be restored.

Do not prevent circular migration in Africa

And above all, it must of course be prevented that Europe, even with its restrictive migration policy, prevents circular mobility in Africa. For example, by trying to prevent migrants from coming to North Africa at all. That suddenly people in West Africa can no longer move freely. Such measures undermine local economic processes.

There is another request from Joel Mbombe that he would like the microphone.

Joel Mbombe: Thank you for the extremely exciting, interesting and successful discussion. I was able to take a lot away from this evening. And I think that it is the task of each individual to deal with what development really means and that you also start to question the existing idea about it. My suggestion, based on Mr. Bernau’s approach, would be to try to work together. Move away from top-down approaches and invest instead in local people, following the motto: If you give a person a fish, it can feed itself for a day. But if you teach him to fish, he will have food for life. When you start working with the local population, specifically with the local networks, so that they can develop themselves and not remain dependent on development aid. Because these developmental aids are ineffective, they make you dependent, as Dr. Mabanza already mentioned.

Boniface Mabanza: I agree with you. At the outset, Olaf pointed out that there are also interesting approaches in development cooperation. And it is precisely those who depend on an instrument for empowerment. Development must come from within, must be borne by the people who want to develop and develop in a certain way. If you look critically at the concept, you can say: In every society there are changes that are necessary to shape it. This is primarily the task of those affected by these changes. Because they know the circumstances, they also know better how to shape these changes. There are many approaches, also in the current development cooperation, that go in this direction. But we have the problem that much of what is done at the micro level and sometimes also at the meso level is destroyed by the dynamics at the macro level.

Changes are needed at the macro level

And we can only solve the problem by transforming the relationships at the macro level. Let’s take the example of the Democratic Republic of Congo: when the government in Kinshasa starts saying: wait a minute! We channel all external influences in such a way that they serve what is needed in the various rooms. And we ourselves as a state support what comes from below. It would be a development start so it could work. Otherwise, we have this dichotomy between a lot of what’s done well on a small scale and organized well, and what’s done on a macro level that’s destructive. Olaf gave examples of this: people mobilize their strength, they grow, they produce, but they are pushed out of their markets because the national government has signed some kind of trade agreements that ensure that subsidized products from abroad enter these markets , where the locals also want to sell their products.

Thank you. Sir. Bernau, would you like to add anything else?

I don’t think I have anything to add. I think empowerment is the key word. And I think that many from the larger organization are now also very willing to say: We must also support social structures, small trade unions, collectives of all kinds, district initiatives. But of course the fundamental dilemma that Boniface Mabanza mentioned remains: if such initiatives are in conflict with the big structures, even the best small structure simply cannot prevail. That is the important thing for me.

Thank you. We’ll take that as the last word. Thank you very much for being there and for staying with us for so long. Many thanks to Dr. Mabanza and Olaf Bernau for their very exciting contribution. Many thanks to Mrs. Kaebelmann for following the chat. And of course to Yvonne Pöppelbaum as director. The next event is in a month on 25th of October. Then it’s about him Race against the climate crisis with Irene Owino Ojuk and Nakabuye Hilda Flavia.

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