50 Years of African Independences - A (self)critical Evaluation
In 2010, 17 African countries will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of their formal sovereignty and in-dependence¹ from European colonialism, and taking a retrospective look at the various diverse developments that have arisen since then. This year also sees the 125th anniversary of the Berlin –Africa Conference which formalised Europe’s colonisation of Africa.
To mark these anniversaries we want to venture a critical evaluation of African in-dependencies and their wider context. This will happen in conjunction with partners in Africa and in dialogue with African experts, and should initiate as broad a socio-political debate as possible about the issues of colonialism, anti-colonial resistance and in-dependencies. The European colonisation of the African continent is a chapter which even today determines and strains relations. A reappraisal of this issue has hardly occurred in Germany, putting a strain not only on relations with some African countries but also on relations between different social groups within Germany.
First and foremost the in-dependencies of African countries are seen in Germany as an historical date, dealing with events that lie 50 years in the past. African in-dependencies have therefore made little inroad into the German collective memory or into the history books. Indeed, it is scarcely acknowledged that the independences were achieved as a result of very active anti-colonial freedom movements. The self-critical evaluation by African experts shows that the independences obviously not only fulfilled expectations but also left hopes unrealised.
Moreover, although and maybe because the enthusiasm which buoyed up the new nations on gaining independence in the 1950s has waned, it is a central concern of ours to examine this time in order to develop new perspectives for the Africa of tomorrow and more importantly for relations between Africa and Europe.We are planning a series of activities in 2010 to comprehensively cover these issues. Forums for dialogue, workshops and readings will form part of our programme as will African films and the publication of a journal with specialist contributions from African writers, thinkers and activists.