Focus: New Narratives - Interview with Tahir Della

Decolonization:  'A processing of Germany’s colonial legacy is long overdue.'

Today's racism is intertwined with yesterday's colonial history. The latter has not yet been processed. Germany must face up to this task and take responsibility, says Tahir Della from the Black People in Germany Initiative. 

Mr Della, The Humboldt Forum in Berlin has been at the centre of a heated debate about looted art and Germany's colonial past. What does this mean for you?

The Humboldt Forum makes it clear that the relationship between formerly colonised people and their former colonisers is still very much characterised by a power structure. The Global North still defines the general conditions, how colonial history is processed, how looted art is dealt with. The relationship is still characterised by colonial thinking.

Restitution: Africa’s Fight for Restitution

14 October, 6.30 p.m. 
Villa Elisabeth (Berlin Mitte)

After the discussion the film "Restitution? Africa's Fight for Its Art" will be shown. 


TALK: Restitution: Africa’s Fight for Restitution

Who owns the African art in Europe’s museums? Together with experts, we will explore the question of why African art treasures stolen during the colonial period were not returned to the countries of origin long ago and how can we enable exchange between former colonial powers and those who suffered under them in order to finally solve this issue on equal footing.

Njobati Sylvie, Activist with a focus on restitution and multimedia artist

In Conversation:  
Bénédicte Savoy, Professor, Head of Department for Modern Art History at the TU Berlin
Tahir Della, Spokesperson Initiative Black People in Germany
Stefan Rössel, Commissioner for Foreign Cultural Policy, Federal Foreign Office
Celia Parbey, Journalistin


Do you think Germany should pay reparations to the Herero and Nama communities that were affected by the 1904–1908 genocide and dispossessed back then?

Absolutely, Germany has to face up to its colonial past and take responsibility. It has to perform actions that make it clear that Germany wants to reconcile with formerly colonised people. Of course, this should also include paying reparations.

How important do you consider the equal and conceptual participation of the descendants of colonized people in measures to come to terms with the colonial past?

I'm always surprised how little knowledge is used by people of African origin, black people. For a very long time, the black community in Germany has been making colonial traces visible in public space. And it is very seldom the case that the actors here in Germany – museums or collections – approach the activists, the researchers of the diaspora. It must be made clear that we are striving for equal coexistence. That means inviting the people of the diaspora and involving them in this process. I think this is long overdue.

The interview first appeared on "Just Listen", a collaborative project by students, leftvision e.V. and Berlin Postkolonial e.V., which critically examines the continuities of colonialism.

More on Focus: New Narratives

10. OCTOBER 2022