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Written By Femi Awoyini –The African Courier Magazine
– BOOK REVIEW –
Although, as its title already reveals, The History of Ghanaians in Germany – Case Study Hamburg is about Ghanaians living in Germany, it tells the story of African life in the diaspora as our experiences don’t differ greatly from one another.
Starting from the decade of Ghana’s independence until today, the book, by Desmond John Beddy, traces the history of Ghanaian presence in Germany excellently – the motivation for migrating to Germany, the categories of those migrating, and how these changed over the decades, and the reasons for the changes. The story is told from Hamburg, which can veritably be described as the epicentre of Ghanaian presence in Germany as it not only boasts the largest Ghanaian community but also its earliest.
All the issues of African life in the diaspora are dealt with in this book – the rosy expectations, the hard realities, the painful processes of adjustment, mastering the language and fitting in, the successes and disappointments etc.
The book is enriched by guest co-authors who contribute their stories and perspectives on the subject matter. These range from older-generation Ghanaian migrants who write about the beginning of their sojourn in the country and experiences over the years, making comparisons between then and now.
Recent migrants also add their stories not to mention the interventions of pastors, community leaders and even Germans who have had close relationships with the Ghanaians community.
Altogether, these guest contributions especially make the book richer, providing diverse perspectives on Ghanaian life in Germany.
The History of Ghanaians in Germany is a work of original scholarship.
It’s the author’s bold response to a dearth of quality documented information about the Ghanaian community, drawing on his own experiences and using his own personal literary style.
For example, the book is interspersed with editorials – the author’s precepts or views of what he thinks is better for his community and homeland. It’s a bold literary style and I commend him for his courage in applying it.
Generally, the straightforward style in which the book, which is available both in English and German, is written makes it very readable.
It’s a book that is difficult to classify. It’s politics, economics, history, sociology, counselling and more – all rolled into one. For me, a more apt title for the book would simply have been Ghanaians in Germany or The Story of Ghanaians in Germany as it doesn’t only dwell on the past, but also interrogates present conditions while offering a guide on the way forward.
The prospective beneficiaries of The History of Ghanaians in Germany are many.
For young Ghanaians and Africans especially, the book should act as a compass as it avails them of the experiences of those before them. Like the author himself said, “It is only by knowing our past and reflecting on our present that we can imagine and create our future”.
Africans living in the diaspora generally will find the book very interesting so do our compatriots at home.
European friends of Africans and Africa will also enjoy reading The History of Ghanaians in Germany as they will gain a rare, deep insight into the realities of African life in Europe.
Moreover, any scholar studying the African diaspora, in particular, and transnational societies, in general, will meet a rich mine of information in The History of Ghanaians in Germany.
And as Ghana’s ambassador to Germany, Her Excellency Ama Gina Blay, notes in her beautifully written foreword to the book, The History of Ghanaians in Germany would be helpful to the country’s diplomats in their engagement with their citizens here just it would be useful to the German authorities to better understand the Ghanaian community.
However, the book is not only a work of scholarship but also Desmond John Beddy’s labour of love for his community and country.
The efforts he must have put into the 332-page work and the depth and quality of its contents show the author’s passionate preoccupation with the challenges facing his country and community.
Importantly, we shouldn’t allow others to write our stories, we have to tell them ourselves. Hopefully, this pioneering book would inspire members of other African communities to write about their experiences in Germany.
Get your copy of this book and you will not regret doing so!
I really enjoy reading this book. Awesome. It gives you the vivid picture of the actual life of Ghanaians in Diaspora and in generality. The Author Desmond Beddy has given the Ghanaian community now and future generations a treasure of knowledge about who we are. This also gives non Ghanaians instant understanding about Ghanaians’ lifestyle.