Dorothy Makaza and Joanna Frivet gave a workshop at the undjetzt?! 2012 conference on September 10 entitled ” Africa = The black continent; Germany = Nazis? Correcting the negative image of Africa in Germany and Germany in African countries.”

On a lovely day in sunny Bavaria and surrounded by the small yet beautiful castle of Hohenberg, the Undjetzt conference kicked off on the 10th of September 2012. With a whole diverse group of young people from all over Germany, the over 200 participants signed up for the various workshops that were lined up. Each of the three days, various exciting workshops ran concurrently and the ‘Africa = The black continent; Germany = Nazis?’ workshop managed to get a respectable number participants. Luckily the individuals in the group were also well traveled with most of them having already spent some time in one or two African countries and at least one Tanzanian-German participant. This helped to make the discussions well informed from personal experiences as well as to get diverse inputs and opinions. The workshop kicked off with participants sharing some of their experiences, both positive and negative on the matter and how they or other people are affected by negative perceptions. We then traced, possible root causes for such perceptions which then served as a good angle to brainstorm on possible solutions. The workshop convenors encouraged participants to come up with feasible solutions that do not take much effort, time or money to implement. Solutions that ordinary people can put into practice in their daily lives to help eradicate negative perceptions of Africans in Germany and Germans in African countries. Here are some of the solutions that the workshop participants came up with:

Relate accurate accounts and explanations of personal experiences in African countries and Germany;

Writing or blogging about these experiences in order to reach a wider audience;

Maximizing the use of social media to reach out to “multipliers” and making use of public spaces to talk about the bias created by stereotypes;

Communicating and emphasizing more about similarities and normal life in African countries;

Working with publishers and editors to address the need to change the angle and tone of reporting;

Acknowledging and taking into account historical facts when reporting about current challenges;

Paying attention to the meaning of words and concepts as well as using them cautiously when describing experiences in African countries or Germany;

Rethinking the way we use aid and/or investment in order to make sure it does not contribute towards creating stereotypes.