Prerow’s Last Legion

August 1989, and we were the “last legion” to be trained in one of East Germany’s paramilitary camps – one of the things that had become part and parcel of growing up in East Germany. Now we were there for a last time, though we didn’t know that yet.

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30 Years Revolution, 1989-2019. Part 1

I was 17 in the summer of 1989, my last school holidays in-between grade eleven and twelve. Amidst irritating news about an increasing number of fellow East Germans who tried to flee across a newly opened Hungarian-Austrian border to western countries, a friend and I travelled the Isle of R├╝gen before we had to serve in a GST-Lager, a paramilitary camp, for a last time.

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Celebrating Africa: The Africa Festival in W├╝rzburg

End of May – time for the biggest celebration of Africa in Europe! For 31 years W├╝rzburg has hosted the Africa Festival, a four-day festival of food, African clothes, fabrics, instruments and curios – and, of course, music. A smaller open-air stage for afternoon performances, and a big tent for the two evening concerts now attract some 80,000 visitors, many of whom stay on the nearby campsite which features the sound of various drum groups almost non-stop.

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Hi mummy, I’m ill

Until 90 years ago, powder made from mummies, i.e. human corpses, was considered a useful drug in Europe, and available in pharmacies until 1924. I need to remind myself of this when reading about body-part juju in Africa. The practice arose from a misinterpretation of the Arabic word for bitumen, mumiya.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

The third step in misinterpreting mummia was to substitute the blackened flesh of an entire mummy for the hardened bituminous materials from the interior cavities of the cadavers.[16] The ancient tombs of Egypt and the deserts could not meet the European demand for the drug mumia, so a commerce developed in the manufacture and sale of fraudulent mummies, sometimes called mumia falsa.[17] The Italian surgeon Giovanni da Vigo (1450-1525) defined mumia as “The flesh of a dead body that is embalmed, and it is hot and dry in the second [grade], and therefore it has virtue to incarne [i.e., heal over] wounds and to staunch blood”, and included it in his list of essential drugs.

See also this article (in English) published by German pharma company Merck.

An interesting article on bog bodies (in German).

Lake Malawi, or wha’eva

The Czech contribution to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest is by a band with the not-so-Czech-sounding name Lake Malawi. I saw lots of things in their video, as far as I followed it, except anything from Malawi, lake or otherwise. I guess it’s just a name ÔÇŽ Wikip.: “the band’s name, is inspired by the song “Calgary” by [a band named – D.S.] Bon Iver, from their 2011 ÔÇŽ album”.
And then? I go and check. A German website has more: singer ─îern├Ż was inspired by the line “So it’s storming on the lake” from “Calgary”, and Lake Malawi was chosen because “it sounds like a far-off romantic place” (my trans.). That’s got to be the reasoning of a Eurovisionary!

Exotic me

30 years since the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Three weeks ago I was looking for a present for dad, and as a late thought I considered Gert Dietrich’s Cultural History of East Germany (Kulturgeschichte der DDR) a good idea, albeit an expensive one, perhaps a joint present for us all. So I went to G├Âttingen’s best academic bookshop, which happens to be located down the road from the publishing house where the book was made. I couldn’t find it on their shelves and asked for it. Their response: it’s “too exotic” for them to have it on stock. East German matters are “too exotic” some 60km from the old border, I get it. You wonder why I feel at home in Africa, kkkkkkkk! Have a happy anniversary next year, you re-united Germany!

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Easter walk all the way up to the Brocken

Goethe, Germany’s “bard” and “national poet” forever, has his most famous character Faust make an Easter walk. Upon leaving Magdeburg, I felt I should follow suit. Some of the action in Faust is set in the Harz mountain range, and since it happens to be right in the middle of a bee’s line from Magdeburg to G├Âttingen, my home of over six years now, I went there and walked all the way up tp the summit of the Brocken, at 1141m northern Germany’s highest peak.

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