Working the African bush(es): Tales from Görli



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responses from the past 224 days..

hi here...thanks for comments! sorry for silence... just back from 7 months in my other home---west africa...where i continued to reflect of course on the situation of the dealers, and my role in writing the article (which my intention was to show the human side of these guys, and at the same time, obviously show the problems with goal was to bring light to it...and it worked- since a large international german paper asked me to write a more in-depth article outlining how the dealers themselves would like to improve their lives and integrate better - but when i went back to the guys to ask, they of course said they didn´t want to talk more - schaaade, because the paper was actually "on their side" in many ways...wanting to encourage the government to take a deeper look, and quicker look, at how to best handle the issues around immigration)....
...@el: everyone knows these details. police know them. case managers know them. i didn´t write anything that someone doesn´t already know...but as authorities also know the problems, they don´t act too much on anything...the details were for the general population.
@realist: as far as i have experienced, no one west african i know comes here, or talks about wanting to come to europe, intending to be a drug dealer. maybe thinking more about the why´s of how they end up in this situation, related to administrative issues, visa working issues, and honestly, intercultural tolerance and acceptance issues is more worth your to your last comment: the importance of family and community is absolute lifeline in west africa - have you lived there yet? it goes beyond what any westerner experiences i think...for better or worse. best, k.

Kap (author) more than 8 years ago

And another thing...

>Though business flows here at Görli, there are moments of quiet. During these times, sitting close to one another on the small concrete planter with nothing but overgrown weeds around to look at and nothing to listen to (it’s Ramadan and music is a no-no), we reflect on life, the importance of family and community. We agree Germans, and whites in general, do not have a deep sense of it, and we all shake our heads in sadness. Allama koi.

Yes, yes, I'm sure a drug dealer that sells his poison within earshot of children playing has a lot to teach about the values of family and community to the average working German. If blacks have such a good sense of community then why are these African drug dealers seeking asylum in Europe? Shouldn't it be the other way around, or does "certain imminent death" also come with this enlightened sense of communal existence?

The fact is Germans and whites do have a deep sense of family and community, just not in Kreuzberg, partly because that sense is disrupted by elements like the subjects of this article. "Allama koi", indeed.

Realist more than 8 years ago

Remove them.

So they are living here illegally while doing nothing but harm to the society that naively hosts them and that they only take from. I'm sorry but this makes them nothing short of parasites and they should be rightfully deported. Their "enrichment" of the Görlitzer Park will not be missed.

Realist more than 8 years ago

Görlitzer Park - Drug dealers park

Very peculiar article I must say. The writer paints ridiculously rose-coloured picture of these guys , they are soooo nice and such good guys. She does't seem to care at all that they are dealing drugs in the middle of a playground with small kids playing.

Everybody that is walking past them have to avoid eye contact to not be approached in a hostiIe manner about buying drugs. I have been stopped and surrounded in a threatening way a couple of times by these guys (criminals) when I have just taken a walk across the park on my way to work. They suspected that I was a undercover cop, which I am not.

Now I feel uneasy about going there and rather take a walk around the park, my girlfriend does not want to go there after I told her what happened.

Btw - Don't try to pull the racist card on me - I'm an (european) immigrant myself and have been working in Africa (peacekeeping missions) several years with many close african friends.

aboden more than 8 years ago


this article made a bit nervous. .. I think everyone would appreciate it, if you would delete the informations about your brother's legal situation in germany... shit, I just imagine, the people from the asylum department (we all know how rigid and onesided their minds are) reading this article, and on the next day receiving the gambian asylum seeker ... really, if you write an article about a friend, who is in a very fragile situation with the state system, you dont write these details into the article, which everyone can find thorugh google...this article could realy harm these men.

Kathryn and exberliner, for the sake of these men, delete some parts of this text.

el more than 8 years ago

a few details...

hey all, thanks for the comments - please, keep them coming.

@ Intelligent Hype, thanks for such a thoughtful, time + energy input, response. especially appreciated is you providing a window to discussion by asking questions of me.

for your mind at ease, OF COURSE, Kinmu is an alias.
of course i told him i wanted to write a story about him specifically.
of course i told all the younger guys i was hanging with that i was a writer and that i was interested in writing about their lives.
of course i will continue to go sit and talk with them.
of course for me, i am still their sister and yaye fall. i admire them, and care about them deeply after so much time together and sharing from both sides.

what was cut from the story was a sidebox with some stats - including information on how to get free legal advice when busted. PLEASE pass this on to anyone who may need it.

what could not be included was the voice of the police - though i tried several times in person and via telephone to get them to agree to an interview.

part of my life is in Sénégal and Gambia, and has been since 2003. now, most of my time + energy + writing is for Mali & the Sahel. i do not take West Africa lightly. it is half of me. if not even more.

as for Rasta-Muslim-Baye Fall, i find many in Sénégal who try to live this dual/triple life. i do not get it either. so i am always asking questions of them to explain how they balance this.

in any case, the article was meant to provide some human side to these guys who often have a bad rep - especially, even from educated people i know who have never traveled anywhere in africa, whose impressions of Africa and Africans is now this idea that all Africans are drug dealers, and that the Görli guys in particular are just a bunch of potheads and criminals, or worse.

it is a way to encourage people to remember, everyone has a story. even if they are smiling.

lastly, the story focused on one protagonist, as a way to connect people and to highlight one person's life.

of course, i would hope, that people understand not every person has the same story. in fact, a certain large German newspaper may allow me to write a longer piece that allows space for a more in-depth article on the diversity of stories (and needs) and propose how to improve the living conditions of refugees or simply ease the experience of any African migrant. maybe you want to send some ideas about that?

please, keep the reflection, questions and comments coming. thanks to Exberliner for allowing the space for the article and these discussions.

Kap, the author

Kap (author) more than 8 years ago

Respect above all

I agree strongly with the first comment in this thread.

I understand the article as half joke, half bad taste... there´s no point and is betrayal of trust. The last thing your "brothers" need is this kind of publicity.


No sister of yours more than 8 years ago

In my humble opinion - Working the African bush(es):

I’m not quite sure what the author’s intentions were when writing this article? Is this meant to educate? If so, who and about what? Kathryn, do you believe that the ‘drug dealers’ in the park that you claim to have befriended would in any way appreciate this article?

As a black man reading this article, yes it is interesting to some extent but more condescending ‘my Sister’ than anything else.

This article does nothing to let the reader feel any empathy for the true struggle of being an African asylum seeker in Germany. It also does not provide any depth into the life of your so-called brother Kimnu (an alias name I hope).

What this articled does do is betray and exploit trust. It exposes the private and illegal world of a group of individuals who are struggling to make ends meet in a country that does not want or understand them. It further compounds pre-existing negative stereotypes of African immigrants in Germany and feeds a growing right wing, neo-Nazi mind-state.

This article takes a group of individuals who all have a very different stories, backgrounds, and personalities and rounds them up into a collective; ‘African Drug Dealers’. That’s all you were before the article and that all you are now ‘my brothers’.

Kathryn Werntz, please don’t read my comments and think that I believe you are a bad person - I really don’t, maybe just a little ignorant and misguided. I get the feeling that you smoked too much of your “brothers” weed as there is NO SUCH THING as a Muslim- Rasta, It’s a total contradiction. You cannot see both Allah and Haile Selassie as god almighty and a Rasta would most defiantly not see weed as evil – take it from a man that knows.

Kathryn, I do not mean to judge you. I applaud the fact that you have at least acknowledged the existence and taken the time to get to know this small somewhat invisible and forgotten group of German society. I would love to see you use your talents and the trust that you have gained from your “brothers” to write a meaningful intelligent article that exposes the true struggle of these individuals and the hard life that they lead – they may be smiling and often in good spirits but life is really not that much fun!

Stay Bless,

Intelligent Hype

Intelligent Hype more than 8 years ago

FYI emigrant isn't a synonym for drugdealer

I'm not German and i don't speak or understand German, but i live here legally and have a 9 to 5 job.. oh, and i'm Not selling weed in the park!!

Emigrant more than 8 years ago


they are really blooody annoying these guys and really dnt give a hoot who they sell too,plus the grass is often bad and a lot of dodgy stuff sprayed or mixed with "bricks" which is something I found out that they mix with .....the worst thing is that they do it in the vicinty of childrens playgrounds and playing space

ama more than 8 years ago

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