Patras Bwansi, Lydia Ziemke: My name is Bino Byansi Byakuleka. Double essay
This double essay will completely change our thinking about immigrants: Patras Bwansi, a well-known activist for the rights of refugees in Germany, writes about asylum experience, Lydia Ziemke about the paradoxes of helping.
Could you imagine to be a refugee and be treated like a criminal? Not like a human being? How would you like to be welcomed? With Patras Bwansi you can relive this experience. He describes growing up in Uganda with school beatings, tells us about the constant bureaucratic supervision in the German “initial reception facilities”, colloquial also called “Lager”, as well as his personal outbreak into the protest, calling for humanitarian rights. That this will come only with a political and social rethinking, Lydia Ziemke shows in her text, which is inspired by her artistic work with refugees. If you want to read about Bwansi’s concise demands, you can download his manifesto in English for free as a PDF here. This publication in English was supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.
I had not expected that they would take my fingerprints before anything else, it was a very strange greeting. The doors opened around 1:30 pm, I went in and with the fingerprints they asked me a few quick questions immediately – my names, where I come from and why I was here. I did not want to talk much, I was so tired. I showed them my bag and said: “All of me: I’m here.” I had to fill in a form and then wait for further questions. After one hour they gave me 25 questions and I thought finally that was all I had to do, that now they would grant me asylum. But oh no – on the contrary, it was only my introduction to German bureaucracy!
Those people in Turmstrasse, they looked very tired of welcoming people, tired of those people altogether who stood in front of them full of hope. Their eyes and bodies said: “you black people, why do you keep coming here? We have so many other people we have to take care of, go somewhere else …” They were clearly making a distinction between the people who were listed on their papers as ‘eligible’ and me. There were many other people they called in before me and none of those were black. This hierarchy of refugees was also a strange surprise.
Finally they said I had no chance of getting asylum in Berlin, and instead they would help me to go to Bavaria, apparently it was easier there. But because it was the weekend, they first sent me to a lager in Berlin called Manchester that was full of Asi-an people. They told me not to move around outside, as the police would control me and then I would be finished. They put me in a room with a guy from Somalia who had been there three days. They thought we would get on as two Africans but unfortunately we had no language in common.
Bino Byansi Byakuleka, formerly known as Patras Bwansi, born in 1979 in Kabale, Uganda is a Textile Artist who currently lives in Berlin. He was engaged in the Orthodox Church Uganda from a young age and gained a certificate in Counsel-ling/Trainign with the Focus on HIV and literacy. He studied Industrial Art and Design from the Buganda Royal Institute of Business and Technical Education Mengo in Kampala, Uganda. 2007 he accepted a scholarship to live and study Icono-graphy at the St. Arsenios Monastery and School of Creative Art Ormylia in Thessaloniki, Greece. In 2010 August he became a refugee in Germany and spent almost two years in the refugee camp in Breitenburg near Passau in Bavaria. In August 2012 he started a protest tent in Passau Klostergarten and in October he joined the refugee protest camp in Berlin-Kreuzberg at Oranienplatz. Since then he is a full time political activist to change the asylum system in Germany and for LGBTIQ rights. In 2013 he founded the African Refugees Union (ARU) and in 2014 the campaign “WE ARE BORN FREE! MY RIGHT IS YOUR RIGHT!” which is aiming at refugees being intergrated increasingly in everyday life. In this context he gives many workshops in schools, universities and other institutions.
Lydia Ziemke, born 1978 in Potsdam, lives in Berlin. She studied Classics at the University of Edinburgh and was running the Gilded Balloon Studio Ensemble there for three years. Since 2006, after completing LAMDA’s one-year directing Pro-gramme, she divided her time between London and Berlin as a freelance director and dramaturg. In 2009 she assisted Ramin Gray and Mark Ravenhill at the Royal Court Theatre, was directing and dramaturgical assistant at the Schaubühne, Berlin, took part in the International Forum of the Berliner Theatertreffen, and founded the international company suite42 with the piece LAND WITHOUT WORDS by Dea Loher, which toured internationally until 2013 and has recently been restaged by the company in German and French. 2010 Ziemke was the German recipient of the British Council Cultural Leadership scholarship and travelled in five arabic countries and theatre scenes. 2011-2014 the company produced plays by contempo-rary Arab writers for the Heimathafen Neukölln and since then cooperates with companies in Lebanon, Palestine and Mo-rocco. Ziemke writes radio features, i.e. about the refugee protest movement on Oranienplatz in Berlin Kreuzberg for Deutschlandradio Kultur, and articles for regional and international magazines. German theatre critic Patrick Wildermann called her a “translator of the unspeakable” in the theatre magazine “Theater der Zeit”. Since 2014 she curates and co-moderates the salon “ÜberMorgenLand” at the Radialsystem V, Berlin.
Chloe Zeegen: I love myself ok? A Berlin Trilogy
Young, angry and articulate, the narrator of Chloe Zeegen’s Berlin Trilogy moves to Berlin (drugs, clubs, parks and politics), outs herself on Facebook and tests her luck. Fast-paced and in your face.
Chloe Zeegen’s trilogy of short stories requires a genre all of its own. Social commentary? The Facebook generation’s sexual awakening? Zeegen’s spontaneous and conversational style reads like online chat intersected by passages of poetry. Her narrator experiences Berlin’s parties and private views, meets random people, assembles her Ikea bed, paces through history and turns an intellectual eye to pop architecture. Kreuzberg and Neukölln feature, as does the ‘Späti’ – the trusty Berlin 7-11. An original and striking voice that you have certainly not heard the last of at mikrotext.
I go to a bar on Oranienstraße. There’s some random there and we chat for a bit but pretty soon he’s like just moved here have you? think you’re an artist? it’s people like you who are destroying Berlin you fucking tourist. I laugh in his face give him the finger but I don’t just give him the finger I pretend to run my tongue over it up and down to show him just how much of a creative little bitch I am and that really pisses him off and his friends are like leave it leave it.
Chloe Zeegen, born in 1980 in Watford, UK, is a writer and post-internet artist. She studied Philosophy & German at Oxford University and moved to Berlin in 2012, following a career in arts management in London. In 2012 she experimented with Facebook and Twitter as a platform and medium for first-hand art and creative writing in her multi-media, interactive project Chloe Zeegen is a self-styled Facebook star. This project formed the basis for her contemporary fiction, also initially published on Facebook. She featured in the debut issue of STILL Magazin and has performed her work at venues across Berlin. “I love myself ok? A Berlin Trilogy” is Zeegen’s first publication with mikrotext and her debut eBook.
Aboud Saeed: The Smartest Guy on Facebook. Status Updates from Syria
More than two years ago, the Syrian people revolted against the government, which then brutally fought back. At about the same time, 30-year-old Aboud Saeed began his personal revolution on Facebook. His daily status updates have become a literary documentation of his life.
Aboud Saeed writes anecdotes, aphorisms, prose poems and commentary. About his mother, smoking, Facebook, love, and daily life during the violent Syrian conflict. Displaying a dark humor in sharing the absurdities of his life, he provides a different and more humane perspective on current events in his country than all the news and reports that usually reach us.
09 May, 2012, 12:25pm
Also, despite the civil war /
While my mother and I sit and smoke together, I tell her, “Mom, take a long drag, drag so deep you feel the smoke playing in your heart.”
My mom takes a drag and laughs happily. “Mom, tell me, you want to enter paradise right? Then repeat after me, ‘Fuck the Sunnis and the Shi’ites and the Christians, and the Druze, and the Jews, and the non-believers, and the Muslims…all of them.”
My mom hesitates, looks at me, her eyes all red from the smoke, and she asks me, “But is it ok to say something like that?”
“Sure mom of course! Whats wrong with that?” 210 Likes
Aboud Saeed was born in 1983 and lives in the township of Manbij, in the province of Aleppo in northern Syria. Manbij was heavily bombed by the Assad-regime in 2012 and early 2013. Aboud Saeed lives with his mother and seven siblings in one room in a small house. After the ninth grade, he left school, and trained to be a smith and welder. For the past 11 years, he’s worked in a workshop. For three years he was a foreign worker in a plastic factory in Lebanon, where he lived in a tin shack. In 2008, he received a high school equivalency diploma, and enrolled in a university to study economics. The university is currently closed due to the political situation. In 2009 Saeed created a Facebook account and posted there every day. The Smartest Guy on Facebook, a selection of his status updates, in which he writes about his mother, smoking, Facebook, love, and daily life during the violent Syrian conflict, is his first book. The Lebanese newspaper Annahar wrote of him in late December 2012, “Going on Facebook without getting to know Aboud Saeed is like traveling to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower.”
Sandra Hetzl was born in 1980 in Munich and lives in Berlin. She studied Visual Culture Studies at the University of the Arts (UdK) and works as a documentary filmmaker and translator from the Arabic.
Nik Kosmas was born in 1985 in Minneapolis (USA). He lives and works in Berlin as an artist, consultant and personal trainer.
Yusuf Sabeel was born in the Manbaj of Somalia and grew up in California. He studied Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Over the past two years he has been traveling and working in North Africa, Europe and The Middle East. He currently lives in Rabat.