In politics there are interesting developments in connection with Africa. The journal produced by the Africa Foundation, The Afrika-Post, has a new look and seems to be putting more emphasis on cultural reporting. Dr. Uschi Eid, member of parliament, former Parliamentary State Secretary BMZ and G8 representative for Africa under, Chancellor Schröder, has almost entirely left the domain of development politics and is now the vice chairperson of the Africa Foundation, member of the supervisory board of the Institute of Foreign Relations IFA, member of the subcommittee “Foreign Cultural and Educational Politics”. In future the focus of her political work will be on the cultural aspects. For insiders from the area of project development, this is good news, as competent contacts in politics have been very rare till now.
Uschi Eid and her team were preparing a discussion circle for October 2006, to which artists who come from Africa are to be invited at the podium. In an exploratory discussion in the House of Parliament, Unter den Linden, Peter Herrmann was able to put forward a number of details as suggestions and had to compile a list of artists to be invited. Ms. Eid was keen to activate the cultural work of the Green party and Africa is to play a key roll here. The discussion circle is to provide people engaged in the cultural sector to estimate the present situation in the cultural world.
On 23rd May 2006, German President Horst Köhler invited Peter Herrmann to the Presidential Office. The aim of the discussion was to outline the function, importance and development of African art and culture in the African context. Among other aspects, the question as to whether art, culture and tradition in Africa are capable of giving self-confidence and security in a world of accelerating change, was debated. Another aspect that was discussed was what roll African art and culture play in Germany and how the roll it plays might be developed.
As we had the huge media events in 2006, The World Cup and André Heller’s Circus Africa! Africa!, which has gone beyond all expectations, we can assume that the public will be open to all that has to do with Africa. At the same time there is new interest on behalf of politics, which is strengthened by business interest. Those who have been active in project development and have until now found no partners in the state institutions, which circulated funds internally and at best allowed some to flow to groups which served them, can now hope, through the new co-operation to be able to access finance, which was formerly only available to aid organisations.
In spite of criticism, a good beginning has been made by the Central Commission for Political Education. For the first time a number of professional cultural workers have been called together to carry out the project Africome and, although it wasn’t much, they got paid. The time is ripe for Africans living here, Afro-Germans and Germans working on African themes. Parallel to these developments, more and more diplomatic services are paying attention to the cultural sphere, which, since the shift to Berlin from Bonn has achieved a greater significance. But as African cultural life takes place mainly in southern and western Germany, these representatives have little knowledge as to who to approach on these issues.