Berlin, the German capital, has opened its first African library. Since mid-August, 2010, books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, etc, dedicated to the African continent have been put at the disposal of those who may be interested in learning more about Africa.
The rising numbers of Africans and Afro-Germans in Wedding, a district of Berlin, has contributed to the area’s new name: “Klein-Afrika” (Little Africa). But despite the presence of Africans, the continent’s culture is largely misunderstood and often limited to music and dance.
Herve Tcheumeleu, the Cameroonian editor of Lonam, an African magazine, and brain behind the new African library, explains that: “Until now, in Germany, it was difficult to lay one’s hands on an African novel written by an African. Well-known books about Africa are written by European authors, and some only reinforce stereotypes.
“Today, besides those academic libraries reserved for select groups, there is no specialized library on Africa. With our library, we aim to give more prominence to African authors and their works…. if Africa is known for its music and dance, the same should go for its writers!”.
To promote African culture, books, research works, newspapers and magazines from the continent have been put at the disposal of the reader. The books can be read in the comfort of the library or borrowed for a period of four weeks.
The library also organises literary events. And in addition to music CDs, there are also films which reflect the thriving African film industry. Whilst the majority of the library’s 2010 works were purchased before the launch of the project four months ago, some of them were offered by subscribers of Lonam magazine.
2010: A pivotal year
The number, 2010, was not chosen at random. “2010 refers to the year 2010, a pivotal year for the continent. Many African countries are celebrating their fiftieth independence anniversary, and for the first time the World Cup has been held on African soil,” says the editor.
The idea to open an African library, officially named “Afrika Medien Zentrum e.V. “(Africa Media Centre) dates back to 2005. Lacking the acquired resources at the beginning, it took Hervé Tcheumeleu five years to achieve his dream.
He later got some help from the European Union and the German government before finally establishing the Africa Media Centre. “We had a little financial assistance under the programme ‘Zukunftsinitiative Stadtteil'”(an initiative for the future of the city).
Afrika Medien Zentrum e.V. Torfstraße 12, Berlin Weddding, is open from Monday to Wednesday from 14-18h and Friday from 15-20h.