Many people have little or no knowledge of Germany’s political dealings in post-colonial Africa. This also applies to the fate of numerous guest workers from Mozambique and Angola who came to East Germany in the 1970s in hopes of someday putting their foreign experience to use to build a class of academic elite in their home countries. This hope became a reality for only a very few. The large majority of around 20,000 Mozambiquans were put to work at the machines of publicly owned companies (VEB) to pay off – as it later turned out – their country’s foreign debt to East Germany. Most of the workers’ wages were directly transferred to their home countries even before they were paid to them.
When the so-called “Madgermanes” were sent back to Mozambique following German reunification, they believed their government would pay them back their garnished wages, which never happened. Over the past 25 years, the former guest workers in Mozambique and Germany have been fighting to receive full retroactive payment of their wages and corresponding pension benefits. In their home countries, they have become a political force, and in Mozambique, represent the only visible non-parliamentary opposition party.
In cooperation with the German-Mozambiquan Cultural Institute (ICMA) in Maputo, the Regional Centre for Political Education in Schwerin and the “Madgermanes – Mystery of Foreign Affairs” associations in Germany, this project by the Kunstverein Schwerin is developing an exhibition to highlight this lesser known chapter of East German foreign policy. The project ventures out in search of a collective cultural and political history. Focusing on questions of home, hope, identity and affiliation, the project deconstructs hegemonic notions and searches for artistic strategies which address mutual post-colonial history. Together with contemporary artists, the project will reflect on historical relationships and place them in context to the exhibition venue.
Artistic director: Andreas Wegner (DE)
Curators: Christiane Opitz (DE), Andreas Wegner (DE)
Artists: Maimuna Adam (MZ/GB), Filipe Branquinho (MZ), Edson Chagas (AO), Iris Buchholz Chocolate (AO), Jorge Dias (MZ), Katja Eydel (D), Gemuce (MZ), Simon Gush (ZA), Tina Krüger (MZ), Mário Macilau (MZ), Katrin Michel (D), Zanele Muholi (ZA), Félix Mula (MZ), Matias Ntundo (MZ), Mauro Pinto (MZ), Dito Tembe (MZ)
Dates and venues
Spring 2018: Centre Culturel Franco-Mozambicain (CCFM) / German-Mozambiquan Cultural Institute (ICMA) / Centro Cultural Português (CCP), Maputo – exhibition