In summer 2017, the African Terminal was founded at the Baakenhafen in the Hafencity in Hamburg. From here, German troupes have been sent to Namibia, then German South West Africa, about a hundret years ago. Turning the old Afrika Terminal into an African Terminal is a practical argument and a way to remember the colonial violence of German colonialism.

Transaction 1: Baakenhafen

In summer 2017, the African Teminal will take up quarters at the old Afrika Terminal (Hafencity, Baakenhöft, one of the most sinister places linked to the history of German colonialism in Hamburg. From the beginning of the 20th century up until after the 2nd world war, the Baakenhafen was used as the mooring of the Woermann-Lines and the so called German Ostafrika Line. Adolph Woermann held a monopoly on military transports. From 1904 onwards, it was from Petersenkai at Baakenhöft that he shipped German soldiers to Namibia, the former German South-West Africa, who were responsible for the violent and bloody repression of the Nama and Herero uprising against the German colonial power. Today, historians call these events the first German genocide of the 20th century. Both in Hamburg and internationally, there is important debates about the official recognition of this genocide, related compensations and appropriate forms of remembrance.

Exactly at this place, where nothing reminds us of the shipping of troops and the consequences of German colonial politics or of the role that the Hamburg merchant Adolph Woermann took in the events, is where the African Terminal, as a postcolonial cooperative, is being set up. It re-appropriates structures of trade that have been shaped by colonialism. The African Terminal turns them around, as a practical argument about the specific history of this place, and as a way to remember the colonial violence of German colonialism.

At the moment, the African Terminal is a mobile installation that can also be set up at other places connected to the history of colonialism, especially in the framework of cultural events, festivals and exhibitions with a thematic link to our concerns. Please contact us if you are interested!


From April 12 until October 14, 2018 the African Terminal will become part of the
exhibition 'Mobile Worlds' at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg. This is where we will install our storage space to collect used goods for our second transaction to Banjul, Gambia. If you enter the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe these days and look to the left you see a display of amazing, detailled bronze sculptures, which were made between 1600 and 1625 in what back then was the kingdom of Benin, the current Nigeria, right before the atlantic slave trade really took off. Research on where the stuff from the old collection of the museum actually comes from, has shown, that these sculptures were robbed from Africa in the course of britisch army action in 1897 and brought to Germany to be sold to the museum soon after. They are just one example to show that museums were deeply entangled with colonialism.

The action of robbing an artwork and selling it to a european museum shows: Colonies were often seen and depicted as a wild beyond inviting adventure and treasurehunt to extract from it, whatever might be valuable back home. The excitement of that scenario for ages managed to hide the violence driving this system of extraction.

Today tables start to turn: For the first time in history people manage to migrate in considerable numbers from Africa to Europe, and they often travel via the sea in a way at least as dangerous as the journeys into the opposite direction have been back then. And, apart from trying to survive as refugees in a still pretty hostile environment, they for the first time look at Europe from a reversed angle as a place for treasurehunt and extraction. They find, that Europe is drowning in stuff, much more stuff than people actually need, which is why lots of the stuff is available, is declared second best, or even thrown out on the street. The African Terminal is on a treasurehunt for these things to send them to Africa, back to where the traders of the African Terminal started their journeys.

And – given the display of the bronzes from Bening - , it seems only fair, that the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe is providing storage for this treasurehunt in the middle of their exhibition space.