Berlin streets to lose links with brutal colonial past

View taken on April 12, 2018 shows the plates with the street names "Petersallee" and "Nachtigalplatz" in the so-called African Quarter in the northwest of Berlin. Image copyright AFP

Berlin is set to rename streets linked to atrocities Germany committed during its 1884-1919 occupation of Namibia.

Local councillors agreed on new street names for the so-called African Quarter in the north-west of the German capital on Wednesday evening.

After more than a decade of debate, a final vote - seen as a formality - will be held soon.

Then names associated with Germany's imperial past will be replaced with ones dedicated to liberation fighters.

"The African Quarter still glorifies colonialism and its crimes," council members from the Greens, Social Democrats and Left parties say in their joint motion.

"That conflicts with our understanding of democracy and does lasting harm to the image of the city of Berlin."

Local media report the motion's approval is certain, as the three parties hold the majority of votes necessary to accept their motion.

Germany has acknowledged its brutal imperial past, including what historians call the first genocide of the 20th Century. Between 1904 and 1908, some 100,000 indigenous Herero and Nama people were killed.

The African Quarter, which is in a multi-ethnic working-class neighbourhood in the Berlin district of Wedding, is home to squares and streets associated with German South West Africa - now modern-day Namibia.

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Media captionSkulls of victims were sent back to Germany for eugenics research

Its founder Adolf Luederitz, its imperial commissioner Gustav Nachtigal, and the founder of German East Africa - today's Tanzania - Carl Peters will no longer have locales named after them.

New names for locales include Maji Maji Boulevard, Anna Mungunda Boulevard, Cornelius Frederiks Street and Bell Square.

Maji Maji - a battle cry used by the indigenous people at the time - commemorates the largely unknown liberation struggle against German colonial rule.

Anna Mungunda was the first Herero woman to take a leading role in the independence movement.

Cornelius Frederiks led the Nama people's resistance fight against the German imperialist rulers.

Rudolf Douala Manga Bell was a Duala king in Cameroon who, alongside his wife Emily, resisted land grabs by white colonisers.

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