Europe as an opportunity for life and trade
"I think it's easier to make money in Europe"
"I have been learning German since high school. I finally chose it as a subject at university because I am interested in German culture. I find it interesting to learn how people live in Germany. I like the punctuality. However, I haven't had much contact with Germans yet. Benin was a French colony, which is why there are still more French people in the country today. So it wasn’t easy for me to learn the language, but with a lot of passion it works.
My big dream is to go to Germany. On television, we see how big the differences are and how different the living conditions are compared to Benin. It starts with a good education. I assume that in Europe it is easier to earn money afterwards. In Benin, that is difficult. That frustrates me. Because the young generation is well educated, but they can't find jobs. I have the same problem: I have a degree in German studies, but I don't have a real job yet, for example as a German teacher. Friends who live in Europe say that finding a job is easier there.
But there is one thing I find better here in Benin at the moment. It is peaceful. We are watching closely right now how the war in Ukraine is developing. The situation has become very bad, and people are no longer safe. Nobody knows when this war in Europe will stop. We talk about that a lot, and it worries us."
Recorded by Katrin Gänsler.
"We have succeeded in establishing our wines in Europe"
"Under the name "Seven Sisters," my family and I established one of only three wine farms owned by black South Africans in 2009. Our venture was and is inevitably political, as we are shaking up an industry dominated by white men. Before the pandemic, many tourists from the Netherlands, Iceland, Italy and Germany visited our farm in Stellenbosch near Cape Town. They tasted our wines and authentic South African meals. I have traveled extensively in Europe to wine fairs such as the London Wine Trade Fair, Prowein in Düsseldorf, and Vinitaly. However, we didn't have much success in Europe until recently. It felt like wine brands from black South Africans were deliberately excluded from the European wine market by the monopolists there.
Last year, however, we entered the European market. That was a milestone. Our Chardonnay and Pinotage are sold in Lidl stores in Belgium, Great Britain and Poland, and so far only Pinotage in the Czech Republic. We cooperated with an energetic entrepreneur in Italy. She had no experience in wine importing herself until then, yet she has managed to successfully establish "Seven Sisters" in one of the largest discount chains in Europe.
Sometimes there are delays in shipping and we are constantly gaining new experience in dealing with the supermarket chain and its system. But we are happy that we haven't had to overcome too many hurdles so far. Our hope? That by introducing our brand to Europe, many more shoppers will begin to trust in the consistency and value of our products."
Recorded by Markus Schönherr.
“Economic hardship in Nigeria is worse than the racism in Europe”
"I grew up in a poor family in Lagos - Nigeria was tough for me. So, at about 16 years of age, some 25 years ago I started dreaming of traveling to Europe, but I did not have the funds to finance the dream so I took the shortcut by entering a container ship from Lagos port as a stowaway.
I climbed into a void of the ship with some other people, very close to the ship's propeller. Just getting on, two men died when they fell into the hole under the propeller. That was scary but as a young man who has made up his mind to travel to Europe, I tried to be bold.
The crossing from Lagos to Rotterdam took several days, we had only little to drink and eat with us. You don’t even know the day, you don't know the time, you don't know where you were, we were just there in the propeller room, until we eventually found ourselves in the Netherlands. But there we were immediately deported by the police and sent back to Lagos.
Nevertheless, I was encouraged that I got to Europe and I believed that if I make more attempts as a stowaway I will successfully enter Europe. But all my attempts as a stowaway failed.
Now in my 40s, I still dream of going to Europe and I am working towards it but now I want to go through the right channel and apply for a visa. That is why I am working hard to raise money.
I want to settle in Europe because I dream of a better life there. Being a citizen in Europe will give you some social security. I dream of starting a logistics company there that helps Africans transport goods between Africa and Europe. Even though there is racism in Europe, I prefer there because suffering economic hardship in Nigeria is worse than suffered racism in Europe."
Recorded by Sam Olukoya.
“Europe will never fulfil its obligations”
"Africa often looks to Europe for climate change solutions. But I think it is time we reduce our dependence on Europe for climate actions. European countries are not doing much to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In my country , some people are hard-hit by impacts of climate change because of poor knowledge, lack of education and lack of awareness. Education and awareness campaigns are entry points which will help them to take simple actions in their localities and so reduce the suffering from climate change. I organized such campaigns, work with youth and women groups in tree planting and solid waste collection among others. This is a vulnerable group, but they are also agents of change in the society.
As Europe also experiences heat waves, flash floods or bush fires the European governments have to attend to their problems first before they think of ours. We are no longer their priority and the historical obligation of Europe to finance climate change impacts in Africa is futile now because Europe will never fulfill the obligation.
Nevertheless Africa has to cooperate with Europe, because climate change is a global problem. Issues of cooperation include climate-smart agriculture, training and technology transfer and renewable energy. But it must be initiated by African countries themselves basing on their needs and local knowledge. The bottom line is that African countries must exhaust all options within their power before turning to Europe in order to address climate change issues."
Recorded by Deodatus Mfugale.