New book: For respect and recognition

In March 2020 a book was published by Mitteldeutscher Verlag Halle, to which I contributed a chapter. The editors Birgit Neumann-Becker and Hans-Joachim Döring gave it the title “For Respect and Recognition. The Mozambican contract workers and the difficult legacy from the GDR” (original title: Für Respekt und Anerkennung. Die mosambikanischen Vertragsarbeiter und das schwierige Erbe aus der DDR). It contains the speeches of the international Mozambique conference in Magdeburg in February 2019.

The main subject of the discussions in Magdeburg was the situation of Mozambican contract workers after the end of the GDR and their claims to unpaid wages, which they were to receive in their home country after corresponding transfers from the GDR. Most of the returnees did not receive this money. Former responsible persons of the GDR (e.g. Markus Meckel, former Foreign Minister), representatives of the “Madgermanes” (this is how the returnees from Germany are called in Mozambique), representatives of the current German government (Günter Nooke, Africa Commissioner of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and in the  Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) and former cooperators of the GDR in Mozambique discussed the situation.

My presentation examined from a historical perspective the life of Mozambicans and GDR development workers in Mozambique in the 1980s.

Special attention was paid to the worsening political and military situation in the Mozambican crisis year 1986. The crash of the Mozambican presidential plane with more than 30 dead in October 1986 conjured up the danger of a South African invasion and forced the destructive activities of RENAMO. Only after the funeral of President Samora Machel did the situation calm down and public life got going again.

Only the peace treaty concluded in Rome in 1992 ended 26 years of civil war. Including the anti-colonial war of liberation, the Mozambicans had to endure more than 30 years of war.

I substantiate this in my contribution with concrete facts from my diary entries of that time. The chapter I contributed to the book is entitled “What traces have we left behind? From the diaries of a GDR collaborator in Mozambique”. Photos are attached to the text.

The book contains an appendix of documents that makes the political events of the period 1979 to 1990 comprehensible.

I would especially like to highlight the contributions of Katrin Bahr, who is researching the common history of the GDR and Mozambique as part of her doctorate, and of Dr. Cesare G. Zucconi (Secretary General of the Community of Sant’Egidio), who describes the mediation process of 1992 in Rome for peace between Frelimo and RENAMO.

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