For a long time, a square and a street in Berlin’s Wedding borough carried the names of two representatives of German colonialism in Africa. Not anymore. Nachtigal Square and Lüderitzstrasse were renamed on Friday.
Berlin, December 2nd, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — Adolf Lüderitz, who lived from 1834-1886, and Gustav Nachtigal, who was born the same year and died one year later, were precursors of colonialism. Nachtigal became famous as an explorer in Africa. A cape in former Kamerun, a former German colony, was named after him. So were two hospitals in Togo, a ship and a glacier in Georgia.
Cornelius Fredericks Strasse
For some 20 years, a more critical view on Germany’s colonialism has been prevailing, which is why streets and squares in Berlin are being renamed one by one, including two streets known as Wissmannstrasse. Hermann von Wissmann was yet another colonialist. He put together an army in eastern Africa to crush the resistance there. Wissmannstrasse in Neukölln was renamed Lucy Lameck Strasse in April of 2021. The second Wissmannstrasse located in Grunewald got its new name Baraschstrasse in February of 2022.
Today, Berlin’s Nachtigal Square was renamed Manga Bell Square, in honor of Emily and Rudolf Douala Manga Bell who fought the German colonialists in Kamerun. He was executed in 1914. One of his descendants, Jean-Yves Eboumbou Douala Bell, was going to take part in the renaming ceremony. Lüderitzstrasse was named after Cornelius Fredericks today, another resistance fighter.
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Not everyone approved the renaming of the streets and the square mentioned above, partially for practical reasons. Residents who live at renamed addresses are required to have their registrations and I.D. cards changed. That is why the district authority in Wedding granted affected persons priority appointments at the registration office in charge. This is a common procedure in these cases.
More street names in Berlin are supposed to be changed, including Mohrenstrasse in the Mitte district. In German, the word Mohr stands for Moor, a derogatory word for a Black person. Once the street is renamed, Berlin’s main public transport provider BVG will likely rename the ‘U-Bahn’ train station of the same name. At this stage, the case is still pending.
The renaming of Mohrenstrasse and streets with the names of racists are being pushed forward by organizations of different kinds, including AfricAvenir, the Africa Council, Decolonize Berlin, the Initiative of Black People in Germany, the Migration Council Berlin Brandenburg and the Central Council of African Congregations in Germany.
Google Maps already found Manga Bell Square on Friday. But there seemed to be a problem with Cornelius Fredericks Strasse.