[i] We are in Bochum in the district Steinkuhl, we received today Mr. [name] for our project “Specially Unknown”, [in] the city Bochum and [with] the Museum LWL [LWL-Industriemuseum Zeche Hannove[r]. We will ask him about his life here as a migrant. And then […] First we greet him. Mr [name], hello!

[r] Hello Mr. [name]

[i] Thank you for coming and for your participation in the project. And also for taking the time to come and participate. We welcome you.

[r] Thank you!

[i] Can you imagine?

[r] My name is [name], uh, I was born [am] in the Congo, in Kinshasa, on June 10, 1962. I went to school in the Congo and I studied at the University in the Congo, actually at the Faculty of Law. I worked for a year in a forestry company called Magbois in Congo. I am the father of three children, and in short, I am now in Germany.

[i] Thank you. You are in Germany. Can you tell us how it happened that you landed here in Germany? How did it come?

[r] In fact, everyone left in the 90s. There was the introduction of the multi-party system and political pluralism in the Congo, at that time still called Zaire. This situation has brought a worse political insecurity. There were looting, there were violations of human rights, so I found myself in an insecure situation in Congo. And what remained for me was to leave Congo. To flee the harassment to go abroad and apply for asylum. In this respect [against this background] I came to Germany, in 1995 to be precise.

[i] Thank you, in which city did you first arrive in Germany, please?

[r] When I arrived in Germany, I arrived by plane. I arrived in Frankfurt. And immediately [afte[r] I introduced myself to the customs police [Grenzpolizeit] to apply for asylum. The police accompanied me all the way to Igelem, which [where?] was a temporary centre for asylum seekers. And there they asked for my personal details. And the next day they gave me a train ticket so I could go to Düsseldorf. I introduced myself in Düsseldorf, at the Federal Office [_?]. I had a little interview so that I could describe my itinerary and [so] my place and my identity could be clarified. And then I was taken by bus and taken to a ship [?], where I had to take two weeks, and where I had to wait to get an interview from the [im?] Federal Office [_?]. Then I was invited to the Federal Office Düsseldorf to do a preliminary interview. And there I had to [explain] the reasons that had led me to come to Germany and apply for asylum. I explained the persecutions I had suffered in the Congo. I had explained the danger I had suffered in the Congo and the fear I would have if I had to return to the Congo. And then I had to leave the ship [?] and I was sent to a reception center in Duisburg. In fact, it was a transitional center where you had to wait until you were permanently assigned to a city, until you were specifically assigned to a city. Where you would live [then]. I had spent two weeks in the transition center of Duisburg. After two weeks I was assigned to Bochum. That was exactly in February 1995.

[i] Now you live in Wuppertal, how did it happen that you now live in Wuppertal?

[r] When I came to Bochum, we were immediately taken to a shelter called “Heim”. A shelter on Hiltroper Strasse. In fact, they were containers in which asylum seekers were accommodated. And for this purpose I had to wait, for the result of the Federal Office. It came to pass that the Federal Office had responded to my political asylum application approximately in 1996. Unfortunately, my application was rejected by the Federal Office. That means already in the first instance. For this reason, I had to file a complaint with the Administrative Court in Gelsenkirchen. I wrote my [complaint? objection?], the complaint in Gelsenkirchen with a deadline of two weeks. Just as the law requires. and I had received the help of a lawyer. There it was a real career [?] of the combatant, [?] for the only reason I had to wait five years for the Gelsenkirchen Administrative Court to summon me to hear me about my complaint. When I introduced myself, in the year 2000, at the administrative court Geslsenkirchen, my file was examined. They followed my lawyer thoroughly and gave me Article 53. That is, an article that states that my political asylum was not accepted, but given the nature of my political activities I had done in Germany, these [activities?] had caused a real fear of returning to the Congo. That was the title I had been given. And when I got this autocratic status, I had the opportunity to change cities. Because, as you know, when you are an asylum seeker, all your movements are fixed, on a region that you can’t leave. The reason to go to Wuppertal was motivated by finding a job. Because we were told at that time that Wuppertal is near Düsseldorf, because Düsseldorf is a big city, because Wuppertal is near Soligen and Remscheid and there is a lot of industry there, [therefore] one would have the possibility to find a job there. In this context, approximately in the 2000s, I moved from Bochum to Wuppertal. That was at the same time that my wife, who had stayed in the Congo, had joined me in Germany.

[i] Thank you. Thank you for this career. What is the impression you had? Your first impression of the city of Wuppertal and the city of Bochum, because you lived in Bochum for a long time?

[r] Yes, I lived in Bochum for a long time, Bochum is indeed [how?] a friendly city for me. I really like this city, the city has shaped my heart. But nevertheless I had experienced difficult times, but also very good times. When I talk about the difficulties when I arrived in Bochum, there was first a system with vouchers. They didn’t give us cash, they gave us boxes of food to eat and vouchers to exchange for clothes. That was a somewhat difficult situation. In the sense that you had no cash. We were all nailed to the home, we didn’t have enough contacts. Some of the contacts we had with German society were occasional contacts. Either [we] had met at events, and that had ended there. And then later, to get out of that difficulty, I had worked at Opel for some time. A cleaning job of two hours. We were paid 300 Euros back then. But I have to admit that Bochum had a great influence on me, because we had taken many steps, with the cultural centre of Langendreer, where we had sometimes held conferences to explain the problems of political asylum, to explain our suffering. And I also had other contacts. First of all, under African society. But these contacts did not last, these are contacts that were limited only to greetings. And there were also shy contacts with the German society. But these contacts were limited. Only during the events there were contacts, outside the Vea events there were no contacts. So when I had come, when I had announced in the city of Bochum that I wanted to move to Wuppertal, something had hit me [something hit me], because the woman who had worked in the Foreigners’ Office in the Town Hall had regretted it. She told me: “Mr. [name], why are you leaving the city of Bochum? But it was already too late, because I had already had contacts with a housing company in Wuppertal, where I would live. When I arrived in Wuppertal, I regretted having left Bochum in my heart afterwards, because I had seen the difficulties and the integration difficulties were almost the same in Wuppertal as in Bochum. But in any case, although I am in Wuppertal, Bochum remains in my heart. This is my reference city. [Favourite city?] This is my favourite city. And I have many contacts and friends from Africa and my nationality in Bochum. To close, that all led to it. Although I am in Wuppertal, I always stay in contact with the African society from Bochum.

[i] Thank you very much for all these details. We want to know what obstacles you had when you arrived in Bochum?

[r] First of all there were obstacles to get a residence permit. I had to wait five years to get a residence permit. In all the time I didn’t have a residence permit, I wasn’t allowed to work. In the end, I did not have a work permit. Only with the exception that I was only allowed to work for two hours, exactly as a cleaning helper. But for all this there had to be a permit from the employment office. Another obstacle was language. Since we were all tied up in the home, we had practically no contact with German society. Our environment consisted only of our African brothers. And from our brothers who came from the same country. This had led to the fact that instead of speaking German, we only spoke our mother tongue, even our dialects. Another obstacle that I personally encountered: I wanted to learn German because I was still young, but because I didn’t have any papers [no residence permit] at that time, I wasn’t allowed to take part in a language course. Since the regulations [regulation] at that time clearly stated that in order to attend the German language course one had to have a status as a recognised asylum seeker. That’s why I hadn’t taken a German course for five years. I hadn’t had time to learn the German language regularly. But there was another way to learn the German language. That required registration in a private German language school. All this required its own financing. Since I had not worked, I did not have the opportunity to finance the German course myself. There are obstacles that I encountered. The second obstacle was at work. Since I was a political asylum seeker without a work permit, I was not allowed to work. All this [brought] my life into an insecure situation and a situation of uncertainty, which meant that I no longer had the motivation to live in Germany and learn the German language. Because we were in insecurity [uncertainty?]. We didn’t know whether we would be sent home tomorrow or not. Then we were “on our guard” and we were not motivated to learn the German language. All these were big obstacles for integration.

[i] Thank you before we continue, I would like you to make a comparison between the situation you had experienced when you were an asylum seeker, starting when you arrived in 1995, and the situation today, that is for the people who are coming now. I think the law has changed. What is the difference between the laws then and now? When it comes to the asylum application procedure.

[r] In fact there is a big difference, the young generation from South Sahara, [se] came as asylum seekers in fact about the 1990s, strictly speaking with the events that happened in Russia, with the events that happened in Germany. With the fall of the Berlin Wall. There was the multifile system in the Congo, there was disorder and disregard for human rights and many people went to Germany. If they look at the year 1990, until 199[_?], […] 2010 the date when there was war in Syria, we had noticed that with the massive arrival of refugees from Syria. The German government, which changed the regulation of integration of asylum seekers to make small comparative studies. When we came, if you are an asylum seeker, you first have to live in a home. This is indeed a house for asylum seekers. And often these houses were outside the city, far away from the population. And in the majority of cases they were containers. Also from the Psyche side, when the Germans, that is the locals went where, they had the possibility to locate us, the foreigners. They could simply say: “Look where the asylum seekers live, that is the foreigners”. There was also a regional circle that one was not allowed to leave. For example: If I live in Bochum, I can only move in Bochum, Herne or Castrop, in Essen and still in Dortmund. But to go to another city, like Wuppertal, you had to ask for permission. In the case that you had no permission and you were arrested there, [in that case] you had to pay a fine. And as an asylum seeker you didn’t have a work permit, you weren’t allowed to learn the German language for free. But on the other hand, after the reform made by the German government, about the arrival and residence status of asylum seekers who are now coming; after three months they have the right to work. By means of a permit from the employment office. They have the right to a private apartment, they have the right to a German course. It is clear that those who come now have an advantage in terms of integration. Because when they work, they have funds, they have the possibility to finance the fees of lawyers. They have openings [hopes? extended perspectives?]. All in all I can say that we have experienced two periods: The time when there were no reforms – that was a difficult time. And the time when reforms were made. This is a time when […] there was a small improvement in the living conditions of Germans. To conclude, for those of us who had come earlier, the living conditions we had lived with were disadvantageous. In the sense that we lived [fo[r] a long time [waiting] for a residence permit. But when we got the residence permit, our age had already advanced. This led to the fact that even today, when we want to submit an application in order to find a good job, we have little chance of being accepted due to our age. #NAAM? with the young people. Thank you for your question.

[i] Thank you. It’s really regrettable what you just said. I wanted to go back to the impressions you mentioned about the city of Bochum and Wuppertal. You have only reported on your impressions of city guides [?], i.e. of the authorities. Now the inhabitants, what impression did you have of the inhabitants? How did the inhabitants on the street, the neighbours, affect you?

[r] Yes, the inhabitants on the street, at the beginning [they] were reserved. […] We must therefore assume that we are a young generation from the South Sahara. [?] That was practically hard for the population. They were restrained from people of different skin colors, in a derogatory way.

[i] In front of the blacks, do you want to say?

[r] In front of the blacks, and it was hard. The contacts were difficult. So it took a long time for the German people to understand our culture. But I just wanted to say that this all accelerated with the birth of our children who were born here. And others who have come more slowly. These children go to the same schools as the German children. For this reason the young German children gradually understood the culture and mentality of their friends. To sum up: There are] few Germans who have contact with us, that is, adults, parents, these are the Germans who are friends with our children. There are irregular visits, their children come to us, our children also go to them, so there has been a gradual symbiosis between us and the Germans. However, this relationship has remained mixed – with us adults. But with our children we have noticed that they live with more harmony with their schoolmates [and schoolmates], with their classmates [classmates]. They have understood that everyone is equal, that everyone is human. Yes, even as far as I’m concerned. There are German parents who ask my daughter to go to them to give tutoring to their children. [Children] don’t understand mathematics, even German, Italian or other languages. All this has brought a certain openness to our children and also to us. And little by little the Germans, German society understood our culture. They understood that these people were not stupid at all – as we had been treated back then. They understood that there are people down there who studied.

[i] Thank you for the accuracy. You also talked about the offers that there were at the time you came. There were few offers, almost none for asylum seekers. That is, even the language courses, the opportunity to work. Can you talk about the offers that the city had made for asylum seekers at the time? Was there anything positive or was there almost nothing compared to today where we see the offer of language courses, of counselling offices. There are really many offers for the refugees who come. That is why we can ask you to make a comparison: What did the city offer you at that time, as entertainment or language courses or something [different] of social importance?

[r] Well, there were no big things. For small job [?] it was so if you were a little brave and you wanted to work, then you could apply to the city to do a job for one euro. That’s why we had all worked for some time, as cleaners, in cemeteries, […] because it was general work in the church. All this was [?] to compensate, to get something, about 200 euros […] because they had not given us any money during that time. There were some organizations that were interested in migrants, [people] who came to homes as volunteers. For example, I can name the organization from Langendreer [who] had come to discussions with us and invited us to go to Langedreer to participate in luture events. Sometimes we left, we had sung in the chorale. But because there was no follow-up, all these initiatives were not continued. Because these initiatives [weren’t?] lucrative, because they were organizations that had no resources, those that had organized meetings. Always in Langendreer. Once they had organized something for all groups of migrants. Each group should bring the way of cooking from home. Their way of eating. All this had given us the opportunity to compare our way of eating with that of Turks, Africans, Arabs […].

[i] Thank you very much, you have spoken twice about this organisation of Langendreer. First of all, what is Langendreer as a district? Furthermore, you can first locate the district Langendeer and then you can also describe the organization from Langendreer? You can explain this organization to the people.

[r] Well, I [only] have a fleeting idea about this organization. Unfortunately, this organization was only a temporary organization, for a bestmmed time. Then they had made a time decision to stop their hummanitarian activities. In fact there is an International Café in Langendreer. The café has the reputation of bringing together all groups [communities], Germans, Africans and [people from] other regions. They could go there to talk, drink a glass of beer, a Coke – all at a reasonable price. Since there had been cafés where it was difficult for asylum seekers to enter because they had no financial means. That’s why Langendreer set up this structure to give people with little money the opportunity to spend their time there.

[i] Thank you. You were in the Congo, you worked there, you had studied before, you had got political problems, which led to the fact that you had to leave your country in order to come to Germany. Before you arrived in Germany, did you already have an idea of the country, an idea of Germany as a country? What was your idea of the country Germany like when you were still in your homeland, after history, geography, after your general knowledge?

[r] According to my general knowledge, when I was in elementary school, we had always sung songs: “Hitler said, I will not win the war, I will do an earthquake, oh my darling, what shall one do, do not weep because there will be war, this is the beginning of our sovereignty” [??] So in spite of childhood there was talk in history lessons of Hitler who had waged the war. We were told that he ruled the world [_?]. And then, um, there was a lot of talk about the Rhine River in our country. Much has been said about it. We were told that there is a river in Germany called the Rhine. We had also been told at home that the German language was a difficult language. Actually difficult for us francophone [humans] – Because it is a language of other language family, Germanic, but we think with our language families, Romanic. So I had a different impression, because many migrants from the South Sahara were francophone, they aimed at France in the beginning, and umm Belgium, the colonial rule. When I came to Germany I had seen that the possibilities that Germany had given were better. But with [under?] the condition of being well integrated and also with [under?] the condition of mastering the speeches well. I had understood that language was a real obstacle to integration for me and for many others. Although I had studied at home, although I have a certain education, but I don’t master the language, it is totally difficult to break down other obstacles. Moreover, you can understand the German language well, you can speak the common German language well. But the technical [technical?] German is really hard for us, for a generation [of people] who came to Germany as adults. But with a difference to the generation of children of migrants who came to Germany as small children and who were born in Germany. Because it’s only on reflection […] If we get a question in German, then we have to work twice. We have to think first, in French, to understand this question. During our children who were born here, I can say that they are German. When a question is asked in German, they answer immediately in German. But we have to do another gymnastics [effort]. We think first in our dialect. We understand the question, then we answer. I have to admit that language is the center, the main factor of a person’s integration and we missed a bit of luck. Back when we arrived, if we had given direct orientation, into a weedy education of the German language, it could motivate us and it could be productive for us. Now it is a bit difficult to learn German, with regularity, in terms of the stress we have, in terms of our age and in terms of our employment.

[i] Thank you for the comparison. You have an idea [idea] of Germany. You were in your home country, then you left. In fact, you fled to come to Germany as a refugee. What were [_?] ? […] Is it the ideas [ideas] of Germany that you had, that had come true, or what is a difference that you had noticed about your earlier idea [idea] of Germany, of Germany and the German reality that you had found on the spot?

[r] The idea we had of Germany was that they were evil people. That they’re complicated people, that they don’t like [other?] people. But when I came here, it wasn’t the same idea [idea] anymore. I noticed that they were normal people, polite and to explain more, when you do a comparative study, we understood that Germany had experienced more immigration. There was Turkish immigration, Greek immigration, Portuguese immigration, Polish immigration and so on […]. And this is a personal reflection of us Africans. We have understood that when we stand before the authorities in front of a real native German, then they have a different behaviour, the behaviour of courtesy. But if we are in front of a naturalised German, i.e. a Greek, an Austrian, a Pole, who is with the authorities, then they [show] mistrustful behaviour towards people with black skin. That is a technical [?] We have noticed this. We thought they were all Germans. In the beginning we couldn’t tell the difference. Who is a real, native German, who is a real, naturalized German. Because today you can even find Russian Germans [Russian Germans] in Germany. But in the global view the real German is a nouveaued person. Sympathetic, nice, he is interested in learning more about the culture of the black community. I bring an explanation for this deed [fact?]. Depending on where you are, because I had had the opportunity to visit East Germany. I was in the city of Leipzig in Zwickau, Gronau, but there you can see that they are a little averse to people with black skin. It was like this, I was once in Leibniz [Leipzig?], I got lost and I had to ask a German for an address, in that time she shouted at me, she said: “No, no, no.” Then she left. So I was […] surprised. And I was left speechless. But overall, life is a struggle. I believe that through our organizations we must strive to show the Germans our values and our culture. So is the importance of such initiatives.

[i] Thank you very much. You have here a life experience of many years already, if we calculate since 1995 and until today. That is about […] 25 years.

[r] Yes!

[i] If we asked you what is typical German, what would you say to people? Maybe you can travel to the Congo or to another African country, there are people there who have not yet been to Germany. What is typically German, what can you tell them?

[r] What I have noticed, what is typically German, is nationalism. The love they [have] for their fatherland. Like their ideological differences of opinion in the political parties, but when the interest for Germany is there, they see old people and young people together around their flag [_?], which symbolizes their values and their identity. I’ve noticed this positively in Germany, and all of this also applies to entertainment [in the sense of leisure]. When the German national team plays, you see the excitement of the whole nation. So I understood that they are a people who are determined, worried about their nation, united worried about their nationality. And everything depends on their history. And everything depends on their history.] If I have to make a comparative study about the awarding of citizenship, then the Germans demand the right of descent. While other nations like France demand land law. In the beginning, to be German, you have to have a child with a German. The child is German. Then one speaks of the right of descent. But later there were reforms in the regulation of the lending of seed membership. The reform states that all children born here who have not yet returned to their country of origin, if the father is an immigrant and has an unlimited residence permit in Germany, can obtain German citizenship after eight years. All these were reforms. I could say that the Germans find their identity very precious. Towards us Africans. We Africans are tolerant about supporting our values and our identity. What I have also understood is that the German politician works for the interest of his country. For the interest of his city. What I have also seen positively is German federalism. This is a real model that the African countries could adopt to ensure [furthe[r] development. Because every German fights for his district, he fights for the emergence [the success? the development?] of his city. In my view, these are the points that make the difference. We Africans, we have sold our culture, we have sold our values. We make no effort to revalue our way of life, to explain our identity to other people.

[i] Thank you very much! Since you have already spoken about cities, we continue to speak about cities. Since you talked about federalism, in Germany this means that the country is divided into countries and each state tries to develop in its own way. This is also transferred to the city. Every city also tries to develop. As you just said, development is achieved when every corner can be developed. And if every corner has developed, then the whole country has developed. Opposite our countries, where everything is centrally located around the capital. The country is very big and nothing works. You were in the city of Bochum, then you went to Wuppertal. Can you talk about your district in Bochum, where you lived, what value did that district have for you?

[r] In Bochum I had lived in three districts. When I arrived and was an asylum seeker, I was in Hilltrop, in fact on Hiltroper Strasse. So it’s a neighborhood where we were a little bit displaced. There were few contacts, we were in a container, that was isolated. And from there I had come to the Querenburg district. Still in a home. But what I had noticed was that the Querenburg district was a university quarter. And there also had few contacts with students. We were in our building, the home. And after Querenburg I went to the district Weitmar, on Hattinger Strasse. And I noticed that there was a certain restraint in all this part of town. In the sense that everyone is with himself, one does not know the neighbour. Sometimes you only meet your direct neighbour when you open the door, just to say “hello”. So everybody lives with himself and if you compare this with our districts in Africa, then it is different. Because with us in Africa, there are neighbours like brothers. You even know the identity of your neighbors, you even know the identity of people who live in the same street as you, you even know their origin and they have a constant contact [with you]. You can go to the neighbors and ask for something you need. You can even go to the neighbors and sleep there. If you briefly do a comparative study, in all districts where I lived in Germany, there was a reluctance towards yourself. While in Africa there are districts with a great openness.

[i] You described your place of residence in Bochum, you lived in a camp with containers and then later in a home and finally in a private apartment. Can you describe how the refugees who came or those who had come in their time were housed?

[r] In our time, when you came, you had the satus of a political asylum seeker. You were accommodated in a home that could be a container or a building. And if you become a recognized political refugee, you will be given the opportunity to look for a private home. But there were also problems with discrimination. I can say that it was a bit hard to find a decent apartment. An apartment with good conditions, because many refused, because they demanded a pay slip when you introduced yourself for an apartment. They asked if you were working. If you had to answer that you weren’t working, but that the social welfare office would pay for the apartment, then many homeowners rejected this regulation. As a result, even though the refugee had permission to get a private apartment, he could only get an apartment that was not in good condition. Then later, when you might get a job, you had the opportunity to change your address and find a good apartment. […]

[i] Could you perhaps explain to someone who hadn’t lived in a container how the containers are organized so that people can live in them?

[r] Yes, that’s a very important question. Because over time you only see containers, but you don’t know in what condition we were accommodated there. In fact, a container was set up as a room, that was a room which was a small room where a hotplate was placed to cook. And on the other side there were the sanitary facilities and a shower. So in the small room there were bunk beds. Often four people were accommodated in one room. With the bunk beds two were brought on one side and two others on another side. That was so when I came, we were single. Four adults, we were in a small room with two bunk beds. So who was a family, was accommodated in a container, with bunk beds. There was no living room. When you come in you immediately stand in front of the bunk beds.

[i] What was it like in the home, in the home, what were the living conditions of the people?

[r] In general, there were also individual rooms in the homes, but they used the kitchen together, and [it was] for the residents of the same floor. They also use the same sanitary facilities. The only difference is that everyone has their own room. But in order to go to the sanitary facilities, one had used the same facility. And to cook, one had used the same kitchen.

[i] Thank you very much. For the entertainment [free time?] at that time, the years 1995, 1996, for someone who had come new, a Congolese who had come new and had applied for asylum. He is somewhere accommodated and he is waiting for the answer to his request. How could he talk? Like you said there was no language course, you couldn’t go far away, how did people talk [busy]?

[r] Yes, that was practically difficult. Tomorrow morning we got up, we were always in the yard of the home, we walked around, we brought out chairs, we talked. When we had time, we went to town, we walked and then we came back to the home. But I have to say that it was such a difficult situation for the only reason that we had no occupation. We stayed all day in the yard of the home. This situation had caused the beginning of crime for the somewhat weak people. We had therefore wondered why we were all brought into one apartment together, without a single activity. This had led to arguments, hateful slogans. There were people, mentally weak people, who didn’t have any means, who did acts of vandalism. Some committed theft. As an object [reaction?] the German community had made fun of asylum seekers. They said, “Look at these people, they’re there, what they’re doing is just sleeping, drinking, and stealing.” These orders could also cause crime. People became bitter because of lack of employment. So we restricted ourselves to everything we were given, like a box of food to eat. And some more vouchers we had to exchange for cans of beer. If you have to make a statist, for [of] 100%, [were] 20% of the people adapted, they [said] [had] survived this situation. But 80% fell for crime, fell for acts of vandalism, fell for meagreness. This situation, one had wondered at the philosophical level whether it was done intentionally. That is, to leave someone in an uncertain situation for five years without editing his file. And if that person were in a vandalism situation, he would be put in prison. Um, because then his certificate of good conduct was, um, he would have entries in his certificate of good conduct and then he would not get a residence permit. If he had to go to court, the first action you would have seen would be the crimes. If you had committed crimes or stolen something, then your file was directly rejected. So much so that in about the 1990s, with the Schengen Agreement being imposed, Germany was asked in Europe [and] to regulate the situation of migrants who had been living in Germany for a long time. When we arrived we had met some Turks here who had lived here for more than 20 to 25 years, without a residence permit. Their situation was to be regulated. For comparison with other countries, France gave a residence permit to migrants who lived there for a long time, who had children there. They also applied this law. They founded an order called Article 53, that is, a humanitarian residence permit. This means that the people who had received this humanitarian residence permit were only assessed at 30%. The reason for this was simply that the majority already had their certificate of good conduct with some entries, because of theft and vandalism. To conclude, the fact that people were held without employment for five [years?] without processing their files was also clearly the reason for crime and vandalism.

[i] You are an intellectual. They studied in the Congo. You have arrived here still young and educated. How did you spend your time during that time?

[r] For me, um, I had read a bit and then I had followed the political development of my country. However, I had tried a bit to hand in my study papers here, but it was a bit complicated because you had to make an equivalence [credit?]. As you know, the German and Congo school systems are not the same. Um … the main obstacle I faced was language. Even if you want to study you have to be able to speak the language well. And you [can] write well, too. I had tried to call together my community and to call together the community from Southern Sahara through the organization of conferences under the leadership of the organization of Langendreer? And we have held several conferences in Germany, actually in Bochum, a total of 75 conferences. The big problem is on the level of motivation of our community of Africans from South Sahara, they were discouraged. Because they noticed that there would be no continuation of the conferences. At the level of the German environment. Many people were humiliated. But I also have to assume that it has to do with the awakening of the prayer group, which is the starting point of the religion, according to our way of life and custom. Many migrants from Southern Sahara have taken a hard interest in religion. For the religious activities. And they have neglected cultural activities. These activities could determine our identity and should consolidate our point of departure for further integration. In any case, discouraged and not discouraged, we strive to implement initiatives so that we promote our culture and understand the culture of the host country.

[i] Thank you very much, I would like to know what topics you have covered in your conferences? Are you interested in one direction or in different directions?

[r] During our conferences, we had all taken our interest towards political issues, exactly, political asylum issues and mechanisms that determine our integration and residence permits in Germany.

[i] Compared to the lives of asylum seekers in other countries, in France, Belgium, England, Canada and so on, there was no counterclaim from asylum seekers here in Germany for there to be a change in the asylum procedure that was very hard?

[r] In fact, we had real counterclaims. First of all for the abolition of vouchers and packages. We demonstrated we were received by the mayor of the city of Bochum to demand the abolition of the system of vouchers for food. We gave the city of Wuppertal as an example, which was the first city at the time to decide to abolish the vouchers. We asked why Bochum could not copy the city of Wuppertal with regard to this arrangement. And we got that right. Then later in Germany there were demonstrations to ask the city to stop the system of containerisation. In fact, all the containers had been assembled in Holland, they were then placed here. And everything went well, the German government took back the system of containers and accommodated asylum seekers in home buildings. We also took steps with the Green, I have to tell the truth. We also took further steps when the SPD came to power to regulate the residence permit under Article 53. We must tell the truth because it was the work of the SPD. In the time of CDU it does not gas this order. When the SPD came, with the help of some Germans, there was a group of […] founded in Hanover called “Caravanne”. We organized demonstrations and we also wrote petitions. […] Um, I have a case that we solved in Bochum. The case of a family, I don’t want to mention the name, for security reasons, since I don’t have one now to ask for permission. There was a Congolese family in Bochum, they had five children, they had all gone through their political asylum procedure. Even until the cassation they had been forced to leave the country. This family with children who were in school was discouraged. We contacted the Langendreer organisation. The organisation of Langendreer gave us an orientation [?] to write a letter to the foundation where Mrs. Kohl [was]. We wrote a letter. Ms. Kohl had confirmed receipt of the letter and she had said in her letter that she respected the principle of separation of powers, that she would not interfere in a decision of administrative bodies in court. But she demanded that the prime ministers support her. She asked the prime minister of our federal state North Rhine-Westphalia, responsible for domestic policy, to examine the situation of this family. When he had written the letter, it had allowed the family to stay in Germany for [_?] years. The minister had confirmed the receipt of the letter, he had asked the city of Wuppertal to suspend the decision. Not to give the stay to this family, but to suspend the deportation decision. At the same time that the law on regulation had come, all families who had been in Germany for at least seven years had been asked to look for work in order to obtain a humanitarian residence permit. This family finally received a humanitarian stay. All of this is evident from the activities we had carried out in Langendreer at the time. Another case happened to a Congolese family. This family had received the order of the humanitarian Aufenhatserlaubnis. But the city of Wuppertal had refused to give them this order, for the only reason that the documents they had handed in certifying their marriage were forged. So the city had not recognized that she was married. Because this order had demanded after the city that one must be married. And one had made contact with a lawyer who had made a long interpretation [?] They had said that even if you were rejected, you would have to give them both a stay, but you, the father, can get a stay because you are the biological father of these children. This law says not only that you have to have a wife at home, but also that a single father with his children can also have that stay. The same can be a single woman with children who is also a family. This had led to single women also receiving [status]. We had asked the city to give the residence permit to single women who were not married. So that wasn’t just for married women. These are some of the activities we [did] in Bochum. But we also have to admit that on a technical level we also had to experience a different humiliation when we did the activities. There were also friends of our communities who discouraged us in everything we did. Besides, since we had no political experience in this matter, we had [abandoned] it. There was no continuation of this alternative. That was the reason for the delay that we had experienced in practically 18 years without employment.

[i] It’s really touching your story, I think the people who will follow will feel the same way. We have two different cultures between Congo and Germany, as well as Africa in general. You’ve come to a country, you’re rooted in your culture. How can you regain your culture in this country? Had you nevertheless had the opportunity to find the culture of the Congo again, or the music, the language, the custom […]?

[r] Yes, um, the culture of the Congo, we had our own initiative in singing. We had founded a small church choir at that time, unfortunately this choir no longer exists, we had had the idea to found a small orchestra for cultural Congolese songs. Um, unfortunately this orchestra no longer exists. We had to experience Kutur according to our eating habits. [?] What is very important and significant was when we had the children. When they had reached the age of adults and wanted to get married, we had found two cases of figure [?] When our children [wanted] to marry within the same community, we had applied the custom of marriage according to our culture. Which is also called “the dowry. That is, in our custom, the man is the one who marries the woman, and the wife’s family gives a list of items that the husband must give. And in our culture, marriage is not between individuals, as it is done in German culture. In our culture, marriage is between families. This means that the X family marries the Y family. In our culture this has a great meaning in the sense that separation [divorce?] is less. And the separation is only made in the case of shamelessness, infidelity. Because the two people who get married have no right to sign their separation in complete freedom. They must also ask for the opinion of the family. Because it is the two families who married each other. There it is when we celebrate marriage between our children of the same community. But since our children were born here, they are young people, and since the system of marriage allows a certain freedom, we have cases where our children marry Germans. Two cultures collided. As far as marriage is concerned, German culture and African culture. And there we make a certain mixture and as you know there is no dowry system in German culture. You get married, you go to the town hall, you get married. If you are a Christian, then you go to church. But we, in our culture, are married on three levels. First the conventional marriage is carried out, then the official marriage and finally the church marriage. But in our right the official marriage is elevated, in case of a conflict. That is the difference between the two cultures. For the German culture we have two types of marriage, the official and the ecclesiastical. For us Africans from South Sahara we have three types of marriage, the conventional marriage, the official and the ecclesiastical marriage.

[i] Thank you for all the explanations. about marriage in your country, Congo. We have talked enough about Germany. We also want to talk about your country, Congo, where you lived for more than 20 years. Let’s talk a little about Congo. You had left Congo, you had come to a foreign country, you had left out a lot. Do you have a souvenir, something you brought back from the Congo? Some souvenir, an object or […] a piece of music, something to remind you of your country.

[r] Yes, um, […] I brought a character from the Congo because the Congolese artist [artist], because he calls himself a [characte[r]. In our time, our progenitor knew God, but this God was introduced with a figure they called “Nzambi a mpungu”. We have our conception about religion. Religion, as it is defined today, has been brought by Europeans. When the Europeans came, they had said that we had to burn all the figures. Figures had to be thrown away. Indeed, the figures showed our culture. Even in our tribute, a leubut was designated by a figure. Even our ancestors in their conception to protect their family, their ethnic group, they had a small figure they had called or [worshiped] asked to protect the family. But when we suffered colonization, the first steps the colonial power had taken were to take these figures away from us. The highlight of the misery was that the same figures were brought here to the museums in Europe. Indeed, when I brought this figure, it is a modern figure that I brought because there are two types of figure: the antique figure and the modern figure. It was a means for me to have a souvenir of my country. The culture of my country. I also brought small fabrics in memory of my grandmother. She gave them. My grandmother was illiterate, she couldn’t read or write, she had sewn a cross on a fabric. I had to dictate her name so that she would write [name] on it. I brought the fabrics with me. This is as a souvenir, as a culture, what I have with me. But as an intellectual I also have many souvenirs about my country. The souvenirs that made an analysis possible for me when I came here. A reflection and then an analysis. First, how we Africans are seen in the world. We Africans from Southern Sahara had experienced many painful events. We had started what historians call “la traite neugiere” [slave trade]. We were seen as an object, we had been taken, tied up as slaves, sold at the markets in Zanzibar to take us to America. That was in the 14th century. We, we Africans had had to experience the colonization. The colonization had contributed to the fact that all our wealth went to the colonial powers. We, Africans from Southern Sahara, were given independence as a façade. Among them were the same colonial powers that had given us independence. They had kept the financial and economic system. They had imposed the political regime on us. They had imposed the form of the multi-party system on us and they had imposed the form of the state on us. As you know, Africa was dismantled not to take into account our ethnic groups, not to take into account our kingdoms, but we were separated to take into account their interests. I will give the example of Ghana and Nigeria: The northern part of Ghana and Nigeria is practically the same people. No, Ghana and Togo. But they had been separated because of their own interests. They had founded the state. I will also talk about my country, Congo (Zaire). There was what was called the Kingdom of Congo. The Kingdom of Congo included a part of Congo [Zaire], a part of Angola, and a part of Congo [Brazzaville]. All these had formed [before?] a kingdom. But when the white man came, he had separated us. We find our brothers in Angola, we find our brothers in Congo-Brazzaville and other brothers in Congo in Kinshasa. And if we look at the sociological aspect, is a Mukono of Congo, he feels closer to a Mukongo Munianga of Congo Brazzaville, since it is the same people. He is closer than a Muluba or a Musuahili who belonged to another kingdom, the Kingdom of Lunda. Because there was another Cuba, kingdoms of Cuba there. […] All this had been done by the white man in colonization, uprooting us from our values, introducing us to a system to which we no longer adapt. Dictatorships had been imposed on us and all these dictatorships were financed by the Western world. In the 1960s, when an African from South Sahara applied for asylum, he was directly given asylum status. Because at that time dictatorships had to be allowed to rule, had to be stolen, for the Western countries. With the fall of the Berlin Wall we were introduced to a multi-party system, in which we were in a state of mutation [phase of change?], in a state of non-adaptation. We do not understand the future of what is happening in our countries. In conclusion, all these memories I have are because I had experienced an authoritarian regime, because I had experienced the beginning of multi-party systems and I live everything we see as a political crisis, as a division of our country.

[i] Since you talk about your family, before we continue, can you talk about your family here in Germany?

[r] Um, I arrived alone. In the year 2000 my wife joined me. She was in an insecure situation in the Congo. And automatically the Federal Office had [recognized] all the Greuls my wife had experienced. She had been given a residence permit. I had three children in Germany. And the first child still had a temporary residence permit. When she was seven years old, the Foreign Office had summoned her and the city of Wuppertal had demanded that her daughter accept German or Congolese citizenship. We encountered difficulties if we kept the German [Congolese?] citizenship, it would be a big obstacle for the education, for the education of our children. Because there are school holidays, there is financing. We had assumed that our daughter would accept German citizenship. We had done the procedure and she had given up her Congolese citizenship to take German citizenship. So only me and my wife are Congolese in our family. I am a politically recognized asylum seeker with an unlimited residence permit. My wife gave up her status as a politically recognised asylum seeker to take Congolese citizenship with a permanent residence permit. So my wife is Congolese with a permanent residence permit. But our children are German. Our children have started their school education with the kindergarten. It was a bit difficult for the older ones. When she started primary school, she had a problem with adaptation, she couldn’t adapt to her teacher. Then I had had contact with the teacher, then with the headmistress. We came to the conclusion that her teacher had other prejudices about my daughter. Thank God this mother, this teacher, had received her pension. A boy [man? teacher?] came and my child adapted well. This led to the fact that when she had finished her school, she was forced to attend the whole [further? secondary?] school. In the whole school my child’s intelligence is open [blossoming?]. She was shy, but she opened up. We had had good contact with the teacher and my child always got a grade of one or two. So when she graduated from high school. The comprehensive school of Wuppertal, which last year was one of the best comprehensive schools in Germany, had asked my child if she could continue with the Gymnasium. My child is preparing the Abitur for the next year and everything is going well. The second of the children is a genius, I can say. Since she was little, she was new. She learned the German language herself at home. Since she started school, she has always been the first or second in school. She was automatically oriented towards grammar school. In grammar school, in her school, she had a big responsibility, because besides her participation in the lessons, she taught other students who showed a certain difficulty in math, in German, French, Latin or English. For these the parents of these students pay ten euros per hour. So she has five children each year to whom she has to give tutoring. The last one had had difficulties speaking. She had to do a therapy. She had adjustment problems. Me and my wife, we speak Lingala. When we talk to the children, French. The children among them speak German. When she was born, she had problems adapting to the many languages spoken at home. But for some time now she has been getting courage again and she has good grades in grammar school. So after the analysis, after the reflection on the development of our children in Germany, I made a reflection and I came to the conclusion that there are two categories of parents. Because I understood that children only follow the example of their parents. When they are at home, when your child watches you, he looks at his father, and all he does is dance, watch movie theater [cinema?], then the child will keep watching movie theater [Kindo?]. But if the child pays attention to the father, if the father comes, he reads a book, he is in front of the computer, then the child will immediately try to read books, to go alone to the library. Put pressure on the father: Father buys me a tablet, a laptop. I understood that in our community, we must proudly admit that there are children who succeed. In Wuppertal we were proud of a child who had become a doctor. Although this child had lost his father, the mother tried to look after her daughter and the child became a doctor. In Lippstadt I saw a child, originally from Angola, working in a Renault concession, as a consultant and he studied car management. All this although we parents [ourselves], I can say, have failed with the adaptation. We are a bit happy, we are proud. When we have to see that the children that have been brought, the children born here, give us value and make us proud through their education and training. When we meet in parent meetings, we are proud. For this we have [?] another category of children who need some care, some follow-up. With the ease, the free spirit that German society gives, these children have not [?] profited from this opportunity to make a school education almost free of charge. They have succumbed to vandalism. In this context, as parents, I would say that if you look at the quota, the mistake and the blame lies first with the parents. 70% of the blame [lies with the parents] and 30% lies with the children. Because an African parent from South Sahara has to fight in the difficult conditions that we had to experience over there to make integration possible and to be accepted by the host society.

[i] What message can you send to the German authorities, considering your career? In the beginning you talked a lot about the inactivity of many years. Later people had received papers, but since their age was already higher, they had difficulties getting work. So what message can you first give to the authorities about this situation that many asylum seekers have experienced?

[r] I will give the following] as a recommendation to the German authorities, after my observation and reflection: First of all I think that they should support structures that fight for the care and integration of migrants. Support them and give them resources. I would also recommend to the German authorities to organise cultural seminars which would enable us to live in symbiosis, to get to know each other better and to live in a better togetherness. I would also ask the German authorities to support the migrants by giving them the opportunity to receive training. Those who have the will and the opportunity to receive training should be looked after. So that one can find an adequate and honourable job. So that one takes one’s own life into one’s own hands and secures it. I will not fail to give a recommendation to our community. They should think, they should support us, they should strive to promote structures that already exist. Structures that fight for the integration of African citizens in our society. I will also say to my fellow citizens of the community to keep hope, despite the difficulties. Because it is up to us to promote our values. I will always say to our young people, to those born here, always to give the best. Because despite the complications, despite the difficulties, but if you’re the best, despite the injustice, it’s hard to be crushed. That is, they must always have the first place as their goal, not the last place.

[i] For the migrants who have come new, we see large numbers of migrants coming, Africans, Arabs and from other countries. They cross the desert, even the sea. There are structures for this here. What advice can you give as an experienced person who has experienced difficult times, who has seen many generations of migrants?

[r] For refugees from Southern Sahara who come here, cross Libya, I can say that they are lost. They are lost because they are going to a corner where they cannot well justify their asylum application. For the only reason, there are some structures, when these migrants come, they don’t [?] come into contact with other structures that already exist, so that they are oriented, so that they get advice. For 90% – according to my analysis of some migrants – I have met, often we meet migrants who have applied for asylum. If their files have been rejected, it is impossible to file a complaint. I will ask them, when they arrive in a corner, they must first integrate into the structures. In the structures that already exist to get advice and guidance, to see if they can be given a lawyer. I have noticed that migrants have serious problems, although some have a work permit, some were even employed, but these people have an insecure residence permit. They can come into their workplace and you could tell them that the contract is over, that he should regulate his residence permit first. If you get a residence permit for three months, then you come and start working again. So their employment contract depends on their residence permit and the duration is never over six months. For many, as I noticed, their asylum application was over. They are now in the revision process. As we know, during the revision we do not analyse the content of the asylum application, but only the form in order to see whether the law was respected. Where I could say that 90% will not get asylum. Perhaps they can fight to get a humanitarian stay. There is also a big problem, everything depends on the city. Because the German government allows room for manoeuvre as the cities interpret Article 51. There are cities that are strict. They do not like to give Article 51. I can name the cities I know, like Solingen, Remscheid, where there is work, where asylum seekers work, but where they are rejected. That is the great difficulty. There must be a great deal of thought, there must be studies between the city and the NGO that deal with the problems of migrants. So that they can see how they can give asylum seekers a residence permit. And this burden is getting heavier and heavier. Because we made an analysis and came to the conclusion that all these migrants come from Eritrea and the Sahel region, Mali and Senegal. They did not come to Europe before. They had been in Libya. With the war in Libya, the collapse of the state of Libya, instead of staying in Libya, where they were in good hands, they had worked, they had taken care of their lives, they did not have to come to Europe, now they are crossing Italy to come here. Due to the war in Libya, colonial acts [?] have emerged, on the flow of migrants to Europe and, strictly speaking, to Germany. The second fact is the war in Syria, which is the cause of the arrival of many migrants here in Germany.

[i] To conclude, they are Congolese and then we know that people who flee the Congo because of the dictatorship is a loss for the country because they are workers for the country. All of us, if we were at home, would have worked for the development of the homeland. What message can you then give to the Congolese authorities, especially to the African authorities, because of their policy, dictatorships, their policy of not employing young people? […]

[r] I can say to the Congolese authorities, first of all, should they have used the migrates from the Congo and Africa? Migration is a wealth. If we look back at history, the Israelis, the Greeks, they are all migrants who have returned, who are building this country. With this explanation I would say to the authorities that they should get in touch with the migrants. But they should form structures that will allow migrants returning to the Congo to work. They should give their experience to the country. As we have interpreted, there are two kinds of migrants: There are migrants who have come to study. There are migrants as political asyslants. About the student migrants, they are brain [knowledge], they are wealth, they are wealth [an enrichment] for new technologies. They rot here for nothing. They must take the example of the authorities of Somalia and Ethiopia who have set up structures to recall migrant children. Those who have studied here. I would say to the Congolese authorities to work for the country, to be national. What I understand, for the Congolese authorities, they sign contracts, they work for their own family. But here in Germany we see the authorities working for the city. I will give an example from the city of Wuppertal. There was a mayor, very popular, from the SPD. But once he had placed an order without publishing the offer. But there are his same party members who had told him: “What you did is not good. We are withdrawing our confidence. The German authorities, whether they can ask through projects they have in Africa […] They can [be interested in] the student migrants who are here. They could build a bridge. That would be a real victory. Because we in the diaspora, we have everything. We have elites in all areas and it’s a loss for the Congolese state. As a German named Ano [Arno?] had told me, he had told me: “The Congolese sent their children to Europe, they studied, some were scholarship holders, some not. Instead of returning home to serve their own country, these children stay here as migrants. This is a total loss to the country.

[i] Thank you, I have no more questions. If you want to say one last word, you can do it.

[r] I thank you for the initiative and I thank the association and I wish that such initiatives should be continued. I hope, despite our problems and our difficulties, that we will have courage. Because we have experience. There are times when we are courageous, but unfortunately there are also times when we are discouraged. But now discouragement is the language of weaknesses. The struggle must go on. To our brothers from Africa South Sahara, everything depends on us alone. If we want to be seen, to be proud, everything depends on us alone, on the way we behave. To the youth of the diaspora, the children who were born here, who studied here, I cry for them because these children have learned high technology, but these children with the disorder that reigns there these children could serve the development of Africa. With the knowledge learned from abroad. I have the impression that they will do that. So they are [clever?] heads that Afrka could use for his development. Thank you.

[i] Thank you, Mr [name].