The recorded presence of Africans in the territory of today’s Germany can be traced back to the 13th century, when it was fashionable for royal as well as other wealthy households to keep Africans as court servants.
Later waves of Africans from Germany’s colonies – Togo, Cameroon, Southwest Africa (now Namibia) and Tanzania – came between the late 1890s and the 1910s to be trained for eventual service in the colonial administration.
Immigration routes of Africans into the country after the Second World War have varied. From the 1960s, North Africans – notably Tunisians and Moroccans – were invited by the West German government as guest workers during the labour shortages that accompanied the country’s reconstruction boom in the early 1960s (sub-Saharan Africans were generally excluded from West Germany’s guest worker policy).
Sub-Saharan Africans came in two ways. As a result of bilateral agreements between the government of the now defunct East Germany and various African countries (for example, Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau) from the 1960s up to 1989, young Africans were allowed to study, receive training and work in the East German Republic.
Generally, following the independence of most sub-Saharan countries in the 1960s, Africans came to Germany to study or receive training. The region’s political upheavals of the 1970s and the economic downturns and wars of the 1980s and 1990s forced many young people to flee their homelands to seek a better life elsewhere. Many Africans came to Germany to seek political asylum – either as a temporary safe haven or for a chance to resettle.
Most of the recent African migrants are now permanently settled in the country.
Today, the general Black community in Germany is made up of Africans, Afro-Germans (offspring of German-African parentage and Africans who grew up or were born in Germany), African Americans, Caribbean Blacks and, lately, French and British citizens of African origin, who as European Union nationals have come to live and work in Germany.
It is generally estimated that there are 750,000 people of African descent in Germany.
Over the next 12 weeks on www.theafricancourier.de, we will publish every week the story of an African, who will talk about their lives in Germany. They will discuss the challenges they faced and still face putting down roots in the country and the experiences they would like to share with fellow Africans. They will also talk about the changes they have observed in German society and recall interesting events in their lives in this country, among other issues.
We already have the profiles of three Africans who talk about their lives in Germany online.
We hope you will enjoy reading these inspiring stories as much as we did putting them together.