No rosy life at the epitome of civilsation
By James Ratemo
Rich in history, both memorable and some we would like to forget, Berlin is a choice European destination for many. But for Africans, it’s not a rosy affair.
Two rivers, the Havel and the Spree, flow freely through the city and thousands of visitors can’t just resist the temptation to tour the city from the comforts of a boat. From there, they laze back and take in the beauty of the city in the coolness of the afternoon breeze.
Berlin regarded by many, as the epitome of civilisation is many things to many people. For some it is addictive, with lively nightlife, which borders on the wild. For others it is a little too detached and artificial. Yet there are some for whom the city’s cafes, clubs, bars, street art, museums and palaces just does the trick.
The situation is even more mind-boggling for non-Germans since the natives here seem obsessed with their language, Deutsch.
Yet every year, thousands of foreigners troop into Berlin either to devour its beauty or for academic purposes. Since the process of gaining citizenship in Germany is horrendous, most Africans and Asians desperate for a better life away from the worries and political instability back home just melt into the population.
Boat ride in the Spree River is an exciting way to tour Berlin.
"Although the pay here is much better than at home, life is hectic and I’m made aware of my race. If you are not a German forget it…you can never land a job of your choice," he declared.
Adu is not alone. Thousands of foreigners living in Germany have their own tales of how they have suffered in their quest for better life. It is not until they taste the bitter pill that they regret the decision to leave their countries.
However, not all have tales of woes and waters of bitterness, Africans sponsored to study here have a different opinion of Berlin.
"Life here is exotic and the economy is many times better than what we have in Africa," said Paul Malimbo from Tanzania.
Malimbo was in Germany for a two months’ Media course fully sponsored by the German Government.
"I wonder how I could have survived in this city with the high cost of living if I was not sponsored…everybody here seems too preoccupied to even care what the neighbour eats," observed Malimbo.
He could not understand why many left their countries only to live like slaves, literally working round the clock to make ends meet.
Other than the rat race for survival, Berlin is also known to be home to some of the best recreational facilities and superb transport system.
Efficient transport system
With a well-planned road and rail network, the city knows not the perils of traffic jam that is the mark of Nairobi. The underground high-speed trains and public buses perhaps explain this.
The city boasts more than 3,000 sports halls, stadiums, and playing fields, including famous sites like the Olympic Stadium and the Max Schmeling Hall.
More captivating though is the new branch of the Madame Tussauds Museam unveiled last year.
Here, wax statues of great men and women in history; both dead and living, including the current US President, Barrack Obama dot the gigantic museum.
More captivating though is the image of Adolf Hitler, the mastermind of the holocaust.
The ultimate depiction of how cruel and distasteful Hitler was is not only in the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin but the way his wax statue is treated at the museum. The man hunkered down in his bunker enclaves away from humanity. No one is allowed to touch or even pose for a picture besides the statue lest the holocaust victims’ families be offended.
And to ensure no visitor breaks this rule the words are boldly inscribed outside the cage in both English and Deutsch. Hovering video cameras ensures nobody ignores the rule.
According to a guide in the museum, the likeness of the Nazi leader, hunched over a desk in a dimly lit bunker recaptures the moment just before the man committed suicide at the end of World War II.
In a recent trip to Germany, most locals this writer spoke to seemed to echo the same message "We just want to forget that haunting history and move forward".
The museum, located on Unter den Linden Boulevard and near the capital’s iconic Brandenburg Gate, opens to the public on Saturdays with journalists allowed free entry all days. Another wax Hitler stands in the original Madame Tussauds in London.
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