Lüderitzstraße, Nachtigalplatz and Petersallee in Wedding’s African Quarter might soon lose their names to an initiative started by the district’s administrators.
They want to rename the three places, which are reminiscent of the German colonial empire in the late-1800s, to honour African historical personalities or activists instead. Of the 196 suggestions from the public, six have been shortlisted for further discussion. They are: Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa who led against the British colonials, Martin Dibobe—a former Berlin U-bahn driver turned activist, Queen Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba who resisted the Portuguese, King Manga Bell who was a resistance leader in the German colony of Cameroon, Miriam Makeba who was famous for her music and civil rights activism and Wangari Maathai who was known for her environmental activism work.
Of the suggestions, Martin Dibobe is the only who has lived in Berlin and he did so in late-1800s. After the German army seized his native Cameroon, Dibobe and 100 other Africans were brought to Treptow’s Völkersschau where they forced to take part of an exotic freak show or a human zoo. Despite this, Dibobe went on to build a social and professional standing in Berlin working first as craftsman and later as an U-bahn driver. Above all, he went on to champion the rights of Africans living in Berlin and fought for the emancipation of Cameroon through activism.
In contrast, Adolf Lüderitz and Gustav Nachtigal who lent their names to Lüderitzstraße and Nachtigalplatz are regarded as colonialists. Another colonialist Karl Peters had his name given to the street Petersallee earlier by the Nazis but this was later changed to honour resistance fighter Hans Peters instead.
According to the Berliner Zeitung, more than 3,000 residents and businesses will be affected should the changes come into effect.
To read more on this in German, check out:
- Der Tagesspiegel – Neue Namen für drei Straßen in Wedding geplant
- Der Tagesspiegel – Die schwierige Frage der Umbenennung
- Berliner Morgenpost – Streit um Umbenennungen in Berlins Afrikanischem Viertel