Remembering and Dealing with the Dark Past in Berlin

June 22, 2010

The recent concluded two weeks visit to Berlin ushers me a rare opportunity to visit two major memorial sites: Jews memorial and underground museum which’s dedicated to the Murdered of millions European Jews, and Jewish museum. No doubt, the amount of information presented in both of them were overwhelming, to say the least. Nonetheless, being in both museums, helped me observe whether the remembrance of holocaust allows a greater understanding of what happened can never happen again, and if at all the memorialization of victims of state violence and might eventually play a significant impact in social transformation of governments and society at large. The substantial evidence displayed in the rooms such as the yellow Star of David helps me question at point in time my identity, race  and whether I’m being treated different from others everywhere I go. It reminds me a refugee life those days in East Africa especially in Kenya, when the natives preferred to calling me “refugee” or “Sudanese,” and that makes feel sick, sad and less human-being.

Like those holocaust survivors, I’ve to wear my “refugee” or “Sudanese” label everywhere I go, and every day is a struggle day but thanks God I never lost hope, otherwise, I’d have run mad and easily loss my precious life. FYI, Kenya has provided asylum to thousands of refugees fleeing war-torn Sudan, Somalia, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and Ethiopia for almost two decades. So, African refugees from war-torn neighboring countries who fled and seek refuge in this peaceful Africa nation were designated in special refugee camps run by the United Nation Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which’s approximately hundreds of miles away from any city. Most often these refugees are arrested, insulted, beaten, raped, detained by Kenya police and deported back to their countries of origins for no apparent reason other than unpurified hatred regardless of their refugee status. So, sometimes refugees have to identify themselves with locals and pretend to look like everyone around them in order to avoid regular physical violence, including rape and police extortion en route toarrest. No one doubts the peaceful refugee populations are seen to be weight of the burden, and this similar life condition quickly reminds me of portrays of those happy Europeans Jews in the Jewish museum before they were being discriminated against prior to the Hitler’s Nazi regime in Germany.

No question the two memorials have shown how anti-Semitism and prejudices towards a fellow human being can lead to and it is my hope that these two great memorials will help inform and educate the general public to reflect on what happened so much so that lessons can be, but rarely are, learned from such terrible events. Thus far, my emotional encounter with something extraordinary which is nevertheless presented in a simple way, but extremely touching and real will live in forever. I wish a similar exhibition of other genocide/holocaust which took place in Africa and other part of world were also shown in these two memorial museums since Germany was not alone in this dark past of human history.


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