“1884“ – time for redefinition

125 years after the Africa Conference in Berlin

Historical Background:
Following the invitation of the Imperial Chancellor of the German Empire, Otto von Bismarck, the “Berlin Africa Conference”, or “Congo Conference” was held in Berlin from the 15th of November 1884 until the 26th of February 1885.

Its outcome, the “General Act of the Berlin Conference”, also known as the fundament for the scramble for Africa, provided the basis for the arbitrary repartition of Africa among the European Powers.

To this day, the implications of Colonialism – which was maintained in certain countries until the 1980s – still affect politics and economies History of Africa.

‘1884’ – the Pan-African music-history-project 

The intention of Jonas Bibi Hammond, producer and composer and Philippa Ebéné, the artistic director and CEO of the Werkstatt der Kulturen in Berlin, and executive producer of 1884 was to invite African diasporic musicians in Berlin under the banner of Pan-Africanism, deepen their awareness and understanding of the political and historical background through workshops which then resulted in the music created on the album 1884.

During the intense workshops, musicians, producers and composer worked out the 13 songs for the ‘1884-CD’, motivated and inspired by movies, discussions and presentations about African History, (Colonial-) politics, linguistics and Resistance.

The result is a highly political artwork with musical influences coming from Afro-Beat, Highlife, R’n’B, Reggae, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Souk, M’Balax and Salsa.

‘1884’ seeks to provide an important contribution to political and historical education: Through Songs dealing with “colonialism” and “post-Colonialism”, the project ‘1884’ intends to raise the awareness of the European seizure of the African territories and its aftermaths, which structures our post-colonial societies until today.

History writing and instruction is always the result of an exclusive perspective: that of the colonisators. Especially the German colonial past is often denied or trivialised. Obscuring the post-colonial nature of the modern nation state affects the realm of experience of the colonised and their offspring and ultimately legitimises the Western self-perception as superior and hence structures the relation of (German) People of Colour and the white major civil society as an unequal one.

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