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 Rügen before we had to serve in a GST-Lager, a paramilitary camp, for a last time.

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Jo’burg Human Rights Day Music Festival – #StandUp4HumanRights

Back in Jo’burg, a town that is so rich in music, and a town that seems to have decided to accomodate me as best as she can, especially with music events. This time it was only a few hours after my touch down that Constitution Hill opened its gates for the music festival that accompanies the Human Rights Day activities here. I admire the fact that 21 March is celebrated here, a day that hardly anyone I know in Europe is even aware of, or would care about.

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Omo Valley

Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region along with the area around Lake Turkana in northern Keny arguably is one of the candidates for the cradle of humankind, as some major discoveries that have been made here suggest. Since it is also a region with an incredible diversity in tribal cultures, it has been referred to as a (live) museum of human cultures. I found traveling here truly exciting, though not free from major challenges. I don’t mean the usual challenges of logistics, food and health or such like, even though they are more pronounced here. Rather, traveling here has exposed me to significant questions concerning the role of tourism, and tourist-tribe members interaction in a region where ritual infanticide and the ritual whipping of women is practiced. I have written about this in a separate post. So here’s a first glance only.

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Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa and I may have started off on the wrong foot, but let me exercise some control over my thinking, and not be too negative. My experience is tainted through the one and only really negative encounter I’ve had on this journey with a local person. Unfortunately, Addis does not seem to have the charm that comes with age-old historical sites (it’s a rather young creation in this very old country) or such architectural attractions that could have made up for my frustration. Having said that, Addis Ababa’s orthodox churches and their communities of worshippers are something else, and truly stunning, and the spirit of one of the oldest Christian communities on earth makes itself felt. The churches, although rather new, are impressive enough, yet much of the town’s architecture reminded me of rather bleak socialist housing projects. Indeed, I recalled how back in my school days we collected money for socialist Ethiopia, under Mengistu it must have been. Except for some encounters with kids and some drunkards, people didn’t really compensate the absence of charm and joy which I had experienced elsewhere, notably in Dar es-Salaam. It actually started with a rather unfriendly immigration procedure (well, that’s not unheard of elsewhere), and then there was this guy …

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Tanga to Diani Beach, Mombasa

My last stop in Tanzania was to be Tanga, some 7 hours by bus from Dar es-Salaam. Getting closer to the equator, I still want to enjoy some tropical beach settings, I therefore decided to skip Mombasa for some of its nearby beaches. Unfortunately, my camera stopped working when I got to Diani Beach, hence there are only some mediocre pics from my smartphone (which doesn’t have a good camera).

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Bagamoyo

Its original name was bwaga moyo ‘lay down/rest your heart’, until German colonial troops invaded the East-African coast, allegedly unable to pronounce it properly. Thus it was distorted to its current form. Bagamoyo stands testimony, albeit in ruins, to centuries of global trade along the Swahili coast, with connections to Mombasa, Mogadishu, the Arabic peninsula, Persia and ultimately to China. 

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Zimbabwe

Those who know me also know that I have a special relationship to Zimbabwe, and yes, I still do, especially when it comes to music. One of my main aims this time round was to visit the tomb of Chiwoniso Maraire, who passed away in July five years ago. However, Zim more than any other one is the country that tends to create more obstacles while travelling for me, and major car issues eventually let me decide against going any extra mile. Another time!

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Size and other matters

I assume, this is the world as you know it. Do you notice where your eyes keep on wandering? 

My eyes magically seem to be drawn to the upper half of this map. The northern hemisphere. Many people have remarked on this, and how this is not pure chance. It is a good representation (supported by the Greenwich meridian and by our preference for golden ratio layouts, I suspect) of the power imbalance on planet earth.

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