Chapter 1

Africa – Europe's partner continent

Logo: Marshall Plan with Africa

Click here to download the full draft (as at January 2017, PDF, 1.3 MB).

Africa is a continent with its own very distinct history and culture. Three times the size of Europe and 85 times the size of Germany, it consists of 54 countries and is home to 3,000 ethnic groups and communities, 3,000 languages and countless religious faiths. Africa is the cradle of humankind – Africa is in all of us.

Africa and Europe are neighbours. The distance between Sicily and Tunisia is a mere 145 kilometres, and it is only 14 kilometres between the Spanish coast and Morocco. We are not only united by our geographical proximity but also by history and culture. At the Berlin Conference of 1885, the continent was split up and dividing lines were drawn with a ruler, without taking account of the peoples' history, tradition, culture and right to self-determination. What followed was an era of suppression, paternalism, humiliation and exploitation.

This has caused and continues to cause many conflicts and wars. The age of slavery was one of the low points in the relations between the western world and Africa and has had a lasting impact. Even today, the wealth of industrialised countries is, in part, based on the unchecked exploitation of the people and resources of the African continent. Learning from this history today means assuming responsibility for a common future.

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