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Members of the Black community at the annual retreat of the Initiative Schwarze Deutsche/Photo: ISD e.V.

Afro-German literature as tool for building the Black community

African Diasporas is a scholarly examination of the Afro-German literature through a comparison with African-American literature and the role it has played in the creation of a Black community in Germany.

Literature has been the chief tool of people of African descent in Germany in their efforts to reclaim their African heritage and carve an identity for themselves.

Through a methodological comparative analysis between the experiences of Afro-Germans and their fate compatriots, the African-Americans, Aija Poikane-Daumke, a native of Latvia, was able to show the similarities and differences of the struggles of both peoples to relink with Africa and therefore self-determine an identity of their choice and affirm it.

Poikane-Daumke’s book, which resulted from a doctoral thesis in American Studies at the University of Dortmund, Germany, is an exemplary scholarly work on a popular subject matter. Although literature is its focus of attention, the book also narrates the post-WW II history of the African Diaspora in Germany in a brilliant way.

African Diasporas documents the efforts since 1986, when Farbe BekennenAfro-deutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte (Showing Our Colours. Afro-German Women Speak Out) was published, to create a cultural community that would foster a sense of common identity among people of African descent living in Germany. Prior to the publication of Farbe Bekennen, the term Afro-German didn’t even exist in the media vocabulary.

Because Afro-Germans, unlike their compatriots on the other side of the Atlantic, are not spatially concentrated, they could only build an imagined community through literature and cultural events.

Thirty-five years on, Black Germans have achieved recognition in the media and the academia as a minority group in the country, thanks to books written by Afro-Germans narrating their experience of being made to feel foreign in their homeland.

African Diasporas, a meticulous work of practical scholarship with its numerous personal interviews, is highly recommendable for anybody seeking an insight into the presence of people of African descent in Germany and their long-drawn battle to leave the fringes of society to which they have been pushed and reclaim their rightful place in its mainstream.

 Femi Awoniyi

  • African Diasporas: Afro-German Literature in the Context of the African American Experience
  • Author: Aija Poikane-Daumke
  • Publishers: LIT Verlag, Berlin, 2006
  • ISBN: 3-8258-9612-9

 

 

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