In December 2018, the Geneva theatre maker Cédric Djedje arrived in Berlin’s Wedding district on an artist’s grant to develop a new project. He discovered his subject matter practically on his doorstep: in the African Quarter, a neighbourhood that is inhabited by many Africans today.
But the neighbourhood was actually named to glorify German colonialism and its territorial claims to power in Africa. What is more, several street names are at the time still dedicated to the perpetrators of German colonial crimes in South West Africa. They include Carl Peters, once feared even by German colonial officials as »Hanging Peters«. Cédric Djedje goes in search of clues in the African Quarter.
On the one hand, he comes across activists from a postcolonial resistance group that has been trying for over forty years to get the streets renamed. On the other, there is the scarcely disguised everyday racism that Cédric, himself an Afro-European, is repeatedly exposed to in his work and his private life in Berlin.
Cédric Djedje creates an urban chronicle in a dramatic form poised between political documentary theatre and humorous auto-fiction in which he appears in a duo with his co-performer Safi Martin Yé: an exploration between expedition and ghost-train ride, revealing Berlin from an outsider’s perspective holding up a mirror to the city.
Only a few weeks after the play’s premiere in Geneva in November 2022, the first two streets in Berlin’s African Quarter were renamed — drawing great attention from the international press but going largely unnoticed by the German public.
However, the street named after Carl Peters — following a personal intervention by Adolf Hitler — has retained its name with the official argument that it was »redesignated« in the 1980s fromPetersallee to Petersallee and now honours a Berlin city councillor by the name of Hans Peters. Similar relics of colonialism can also be found outside of Wedding and Berlin. Is there any chance for a change in the near future? The still undecided answer is indicated in the title of the play: Maybe.
- 120 minutes
- (In French with German and English surtitles)