„Germany Black & White” by Noah Sow - Introduction: My own Origin
Noah Sow

Introduction: My Own Origin

Tätowierter Schädel

My actual origin lies in a country whose state of civilization was not very long ago acknowledged with a smile and interest, but always condescendingly, by many nations in the Western world. No wonder: close by there were still tribes who collected and painted(!) the skulls of their deceased children.

My grandmother, a native, had sixteen siblings. The water was of course from the village well instead from the tap like today. When it rained, the water was eagerly collected. At that time naturally almost nobody in the village had electricity. Today we still have the problems that are common in our region: corrupt politicians, ethnic conflicts (which might not be surprising since the borders have not remained the same for more than two generations), high debt, and so on. But my country has made an enormous step forward in the last few decades. It is now quite stable politically and can be proud of several things:

  • The division of the country into individual ethnic subgroups, which took place about two generations ago, was quite arbitrary. The borders of the partially quasi-sovereign tribal regions did not really reflect the population of the peoples. The regions also varied quite substantially in size. Nevertheless there was no civil war.
  • The country hasn’t been involved in any ethnic wars for more than sixty years. Smaller “skirmishes” among individual ethnic groups have been held under control so far.
  • Out of the many dialects that were spoken in the country – some comprehensible only to natives of the same region (and some of them purely oral languages) – one was chosen the official language in a peaceful process. Originally spoken only by a relatively small tribe, it prevailed without resistance. Now everyone in the whole country at least rudimentarily comprehends the official language (not all countries can say that)!
  • Since about ten years ago there have been area-wide land phone lines. This was not even imaginable until well into the nineties.
  • An episode of military dictatorship, which individual tribal regions fell back into for some periods, was able to be resolved without bloodshed(!).
  • Probably the biggest challenge for us brought by civilization (admittedly, a civilizing process effected by outside powers) was dealing with democracy. We now master this in an exemplary way. Even though we were “forced into our luck,” we went through a spectacularly positive economic and sociopolitical phase, not the least based on widespread delivery of aid goods, state-development aid, and military presence of progressive, mostly Western countries. The new national borders, defined not by our own state but by governments of other countries – just as in many African countries – were even officially acknowledged by our government in 1990.

This country is of course called – Germany. My grandmother, the native, is from Bavaria. Close by, in Tyrol, skulls were painted and put on shelves. In the new states many households did not have landlines in 1994. I am very knowledgeable about the different stages of my people’s civilization.

provisional translation from
Noah Sow: Deutschland Schwarz Weiß

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