Merry Christmas Africa

Christmas has been over for a few weeks now, but the BMZ’s Christmas ad is still generating discussion after the fact. While Prof. Theo Rauch headlines “Welcome to the stone age of development policy”, the BMZ defends the motive and choice of words of the advertisement with reference to the Christmas story (see below).

With this entry, we are excited about the next three years of the Africa Initiative. At the launch event in Berlin’s bcc last year, 800 invited guests got a taste of what was to come. Whether the goal of the campaign to draw a more diverse image of Africa succeeds in view of the spread of colonial fantasies is questionable. As long as at the same time the goal of a current neoliberal development policy is pursued, the basic juxtaposition of an active, helping Germany (“We have already moved a lot”) and a needy, passive, rural Africa will continue to exist. Even then, or especially when one of the few well-known personalities from Africa is invited as a keynote speaker: Waris Dirie shouted to Minister Niebel and the guests from business, politics and civil society, “You have to invest in Africa.” Niebel, however, speaks rather of “getting involved,” and by that he by no means means means only civil society involvement….

Whether the goal of running the Africa campaign as an election campaign ultimately succeeds is another matter.

Attached still the“Answer of the Parliamentary State Secretary Gudrun Kopp of January 16, 2013.
The advertisement you requested, “Merry Christmas, Africa,” appeared in the following six regional daily newspapers on Friday, December 21, 2012: “Hamburger Abendblatt,” “Hanauer Anzeiger,” “Lübecker Nachrichten,” “Nordwest-Zeitung,” “Südwest Presse,” and the Westfalen-Blatt.” The format, a corner field, varied from a height of 209 to 264 mm and a width of 140 to 192.8 mm, depending on the newspaper. The placement was made individually in the respective political or business section of the newspaper. The total net cost of the advertisements amounts to 40,181.05 euros and is financed from the BMZ’s public relations title. The BMZ indeed wants to bring the one-sided image of Africa as a crisis continent, which still prevails in Germany, to a current and therefore modern level. A differentiated and realistic image of Africa consists of various facets: This includes the skyline of Johannesburg as well as the rural areas of Africa. It is therefore important for the presentation of a modern image of Africa not to ignore one or the other component or to foreground it one-sidedly. The BMZ has deliberately chosen for the advertisement to which you refer
decided on a rural motif. On the one hand, the Christmas story alone, with the stable as the setting for its central event, the Nativity, invites an association with rural space. Possible misunderstandings should be addressed by alienating this image, for example, by means of the colorful and modern Christmas sleigh. The development of rural areas in particular is a key area and funding priority of German development policy. After all, most of the people suffering from poverty and hunger worldwide live in rural areas. The ad thus ties in with this focus of German development cooperation and the German government’s commitment to strengthening rural areas in developing countries.”