The Struggle: South Africans in Exile in Berlin 18841994

110 years of anti-colonial resistance

May 14th, 2024
Sofiia Bartnovska, News from Berlin
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2024 marks two special events: the thirtieth anniversary of the end of the Apartheid regime in South Africa and the 140th anniversary of the so-called Congo Conference in Berlin.

For this occasion students from the Berlin University of Applied Sciences (MA programme Management and Communication in Museums) have developed an exhibition with the title The Struggle: South Africans in Exile in Berlin 1884–1994: 110 years of anti-colonial resistance. It remembers Africa’s anti-colonial liberation movement and provides portraits of South African apartheid exiles in East and West Berlin.

The exhibition concept offers new perspectives on the history of Berlin. In 1884/1885 the city hosted representatives from fourteen states who debated their power interests on the African continent, and thus established the basis for the division of Africa into colonies. In the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Berlin housed an exile office of the South African African National Congress, while in the Federal Republic of Germany (FGR), solidarity with the anti-apartheid struggle was an expression of political opposition.

The exhibition focuses on people that fled South Africa due to apartheid and lived in East and West Berlin between 1960 and 1994, including prominent protagonists of the South African liberation struggle such as the architect Luyanda Mpahlwa. Exhibits include record covers from the international anti-apartheid movement, for example albums from Miriam Makeba, Eddy Grant, and Stevie Wonder. Other items on display include newspaper articles and recordings from the Festival of Political Songs in the GDR, a solidarity event, various posters from the GDR and the FRG, as well as historical photos from South Africa. A map of Berlin shows relevant sites of resistance in the East and West.

Various short videos of interviews with exiles form the centre of the exhibition. The film-maker and performance artist Thabo Thindi made six interviews available for processing. A further interview with Luyanda Mpahlwa, who was incarcerated on Robben Island as a political prisoner, was conducted by the students themselves.

The exhibition enters into dialogue with the HKW exhibition and research project Echoes of the Brother Countries. What is the Price of Memory and What is the Cost of Amnesia? Or: Visions and Illusions of Anti-Imperialist Solidarities.

Date: 8 - 20th of May
Location: John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10 10557 Berlin (Haus der Kulturen der Welt)
Free entrance


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