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Wednesday, 15. May 2024 9:30 am – 6:00 pm Save in my calendar


Dino in the Room

Civil society dialogue on German colonial history in Tanzania

» To the program» Parallel spotlights in the program

In November 2023, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Laureate of the Nobel Prize for Literature, whose novels deal with German colonial rule in Tanzania, gave the "Marbach Schiller Speech". In this lecture, he accused the German society of failing to remember its colonial history in East Africa. The situation in Tanzania is very different as the trauma of the "relentless cruelty" of German rule had been passed on from generation to generation through oral tradition and official historiography. German President Frank Walter Steinmeier also visited Tanzania in November 2023. At the memorial site for the Majimaji War in Songea, Steinmeier asked for forgiveness for German colonial crimes. This event was a door opener for an in-depth examination of the intertwined history of the two countries.

With the dialogue  forum "Dino in the Room" on May 14 and 15, 2024, the Heinrich Böll Foundation offers a space for civil society voices from Tanzania and Germany in the context of such remembrance work. We hope for broad-based, new ethic of relations to emerge through the mutual perception of other experiences, through the recognition of guilt and trauma on the part of the German perpetrator society.

The title of the dialogue forum serves as a metaphor for the German oblivion and suppression of German colonial history in East Africa as described by Gurnah. And it refers to the "Dino" in the based in the  Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. The skeleton of the Giraffatitan brancai welcomes visitors as its most prominent exhibit, but hardly anyone knows anything about how it came from Tanzania to Germany during the colonial era.

14. May 2024 / 7pm / film screening and debate, Delphi Filmpalast
German premiere of "Das leere Grab/ The empty grave", Germany Tanzania 2024, (Swahili, German, English with English subtitles), 97 minutes

Followed by a Q&A with the directors Cece Mlay and Agnes Lisa Wegner and the protagonists John Mbano and Felix Kaaya.

Program 15 May 2024

Welcoming address by Prof Dr Imme Scholz, President Heinrich Böll Foundation

9.45am – 11.15am
Listen & Learn: Memories of German colonialism in Tanzania
The opening panel provides an overview of current remembrance work on German colonial rule in Tanzania from different perspectives. It focuses on how communities, cities, regions and at national level are coming to terms with German colonial crimes. The contributions of civil society, academia, art and culture dealing with the colonial history of violence and its consequences up to the present day will be highlighted.


  • Prof Dr Nancy Rushohora, Department of Archaeology and Heritage, University of Dar es Salaam
  • Dr Vicensia Shule, Tourism Innovation Hub (TIHub)
  • Bernard Laulian Nthahondi, Dar es Salaam Centre for Architectural Heritage

Comments: Kristina Mashimi, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin

Moderation: Prof Dr Valence Silayo, Department of Archaeology and Heritage, University of Dar es Salaam


11.15am. – 11.45am  Coffee break

11.45am – 1.15pm    Parallel Spotlights

Spotlight I: Transfigured Dreams & Spaces. Nature and colonial subjugation
In German East Africa, nature conservation was an integral part of the colonial project of exploitation and oppression. The preservation of fauna and flora in designated areas as "wilderness" served to secure power and European hunting interests. Beyond, it was closely linked to land seizure, displacement and the destruction of traditional forms of economy. Until today, these violent interventions characterize Tanzania's landscapes and have a massive impact on tourism, development cooperation and private conservation initiatives.


  • Jimson Sanga, Fahari Yetu / University of Iringa
  • Dr Laibor Kalanga Moko, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Dr Bernhard Gißibl, Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG) Mainz
  • Linda Poppe, Survival International, Berlin office

Moderation: Joachim Paul, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Nairobi

Spotlight II: Mission postcolonial. Historical responsibility today
Christian missionary societies played an important role during German colonial rule in East Africa. Individuals in these organisations are struggling today to find credible answers about their historical responsibility and in many cases are committed to decolonial relationships with partner churches that have emerged from missionary work. In their educational work, German missionary organizations are also concerned with an "honest" examination of colonial history and overcoming racism in their own society.


  • Belinda-Maria Peters, Centre for Religious Studies (CERES), Ruhr-University Bochum
  • Prof Dr Valence Silayo, Lecturer in history, archaelogy and heritage management University of Dar es Salaam
  • Prof. Dr. Jeremy Best, Author "Heavenly Fatherland", Iowa State University
  • Dr Martin Frank, Berliner Missionswerk

Moderation: Dr. Thomas Fues, Economist and political scientist

Spotlight III: Re-Writing History. Textbooks under the magnifying glass
The presentation of German colonial history in German and Tanzanian curricula, textbooks and teaching materials differs greatly. On the German side, the incomplete or missing presentation of the topic is particularly noticeable. How could the long-term goal of addressing the topic in textbooks be achieved in such a way that the conventional view, dominated by one-sided historical images and prejudices, is corrected?

  • Prof Dr Nancy Rushohora, Department of Archaeology and Heritage, University of Dar es Salaam
  • Halima Adam, teacher, creative writer, Dar es Salaam
  • Dr Marcus Otto, "Knowledge in Transition", Leibniz-Institute for Educational Media (Georg-Eckert-Institute)

Moderation: Maria Kind and Daki Galgalo, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin


1.15pm – 2.30pm Lunch Break  

2.30pm 4pm
Closing the Gap(s). Overcoming the knowledge gaps

The joint production of knowledge on the intertwined history of Tanzania and Germany is still in its infancy. The Humboldt Forum Foundation, Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and the National Museum of Tanzania are currently taking steps in this direction by cooperating to prepare an exhibition on the former German colony. This exhibition is scheduled to open in Berlin in fall 2024 and travel to Tanzania a year later. In this and other projects, the aim is to systematically record and research Tanzanian cultural heritage in Germany. Recently, a similar project was launched in a collaboration between Germany and Cameroon.


  • Flower Manase, National Museum of Tanzania
  • Dr Ina Heumann, “Open Heritage. Exploring Collections, Creating Futures”, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
  • Prof Dr Carola Lentz, President Goethe-Institute / Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz  

Moderation: Prof Dr Vicensia Shule, Tourism Innovation Hub (TIHub)


4pm - 4.30pm Coffee Break  

4.30pm 6pm
Remembering for the present and the future: New Ethics in the relationship between Tanzania and Germany 

Things are beginning to move in relations between Tanzania and Germany. Since President Steinmeier's visit to Songea at the end of 2023, opportunities have opened up for a new phase in coming to terms with the intertwined history. Both governments are currently working to find a formal framework for restitution and remembrance work. In order for this to have the longest possible impact, it is essential that civil society initiatives are also integrated into the intergovernmental agreements.


  • Katja Keul, MdB, Minister of State at the German Federal Foreign Office
  • H.E. Hassan Iddi Mwamweta, Ambassador of the Republic of Tanzania to the Federal Republic of Germany (tbc)
  • Prof Dr Andreas Mehler, Arnold Bergstraesser Institute / University Freiburg
  • Anael Gerald Moshi Meli, descendant Mangi Meli

Moderation: Kirsten Krampe, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin

Maria Kind

» Participation on site
at the the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Conference Center, Schumannstr. 8, 10117 Berlin

Please register. Unfortunately, the number of seats is limited. Should the room capacity be exhausted, we will transmit the conference via video to other rooms. We would like to point out that there is no entitlement to a seat in the room.

» Livestream
Alternatively, you can follow the event via the livestream without registering.

Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung - Headquarter Berlin
Schumannstr. 8
10117 Berlin
Heinrich Böll Foundation - Headquarters Berlin
Simultaneous translation
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