With last weeks European Election, both the UK and France flared to the far right and Im a little sad about it. Since two weeks I'm living in a small town in Germany. First thing I've noticed was that were a fair amount of african people living here. And I noticed a beautiful old building in the centre of town. It is an old cigar factory, now turned into a shelter for Eritrean refugees.
Today the big bridge in town, that connects the left part of town with the right, was closed off for the annual 'Bruckefest'. The minister of the local church (dressed in a Ed Hardy shirt, with the looks of an artist and the hair of a popstar) held a beautiful speech in which he asked how many people are from Treis? (the town) (hands up, and cheer for them!) How many people are from Giessen (next city) (hands up, and cheer for them!) How many people are from more than 400 km away (hands up, and cheer for them!) How many are from more than 1000 km away? (hands up and cheer for them!)
The whole ceremony evolved on building bridges and connect to each other. Today I was one of those strangers from far away. But they cheered for me. And for all the other foreigners.
But the refugees were also involved in the party: There was a food stand with Eritrean food and coffee and some were asked to join the Bruckefest Choir.
And opposed from what you might expect: they sold out all their food within an hour and half. The only thing left to eat: local trout and burgers.
And opposed to what I expected (a shitty german cover band) a cool senegal/ german band played that evening. They taught me a new expression: Die europeans haben das Uhr, but wir (the africans) haben die Zeit.
In this town Im the stranger who struggles with the language, doesn't know any one. But I look the same as the germans, the weather is the same as in my country and the trees look the same. I walk around and see the Eritreans and often wonder, they must miss their country terrible. And hope they felt the same warmth today as I felt. I'm proud of this little town that proves Europe wrong.
The band packed up and left, and unfortunately there was a shitty german cover band after all. Feedback and all!
It's all good. It was a lovely lovely day.