Afro-German activist Katharina Oguntoye has been awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesverdienstkreuz).
The Order, colloquially known as the Federal Cross of Merit, is awarded to German and foreign citizens for political, social-economic and intellectual achievements as well as for serving the Federal Republic of Germany, such as through social engagement.
Oguntoye (63) was presented the award on Monday by Katja Kipping, the Berlin Senator for Integration, Labour and Social Affairs, in the federal capital.
Oguntoye, founder and director of the Joliba-Intercultural Network in Berlin, has helped shape the Afro-German movement as one of the editors and authors of the book Showing Our Colours. Afro-German Women Speak Out (“Farbe bekennen: Afro-deutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte”, 1986), as well as a founding member of the Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland (Initiative of Black Germans) and the Afro-German Women group ADEFRA.
Reacting to the award, the ISD said Oguntoye had with her activities and commitment over the decades contributed to making the achievements and contributions of Black people visible in Germany.
“She has contributed and created spaces where Black people can learn, share and be,” the organisation said in a congratulatory message published on its Facebook page.
“We are proud of Katharina and wish her continued strength and perseverance for everything she still sets out to do – in activism and privately!”
Oguntoye, who said she became an activist because she wanted to work for a more just society, was also honoured in 2020 for her life’s work against sexism, racism and homophobia with the Lesbian Visibility Award for Berlin.
A historian, Oguntoye is the author of Black Roots, Afro-German Family Histories from 1884 to 1950 (Orlanda Verlag), a scholarly research work on the history of Black people in Germany.
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