For several years, Leipzig has been debating whether the zoo, through some of its events, spreads racist stereotypes and whether it reconciles well with its colonial past. The Migrant Advisory Council referred the matter to the city council on Wednesday, 18 May. In the end, the result was clear: events such as Hakuna Matata and El Dorado will soon be retained.
It is an “emotional issue”, Mohamed Okasha, one of the chairmen of the Migrant Advisory Board, said before the council. This applies not only to people affected by racism like him, but to everyone. But he also made it clear: “There are no opposing fronts. We are working towards a common goal. “
One of these common goals is to make the zoo sensitive to what it has to offer and its history. However, there is a great need for improvement at the moment. Events like Hakuna Matata would spread racist stereotypes or a certain image of Africa. – But Africa is a continent of 50 countries.
Speaking about the reassessment of colonial history, Okasha said, “We recognize the zoo’s efforts.” But the results of the reassessment so far should be visible in the zoo’s territory.
Okashi was followed by Andrea Niermann, a member of the CDU City Council, who initially addressed the previous speaker under a false name and then expressed outrage at the request of the Migrant Advisory Council. In this way, the zoo would be accused of colonialism and racism. Apparently, the priority is to send a political signal. She attended the events herself and “found no racism there”.
This view has been criticized by Juliane Nagel, a member of the left-wing city council, who mentioned the “defensive reflexes” that also exist at the Leipzig Zoo, and Nuria Silvestre, a member of the Green City Council, who said racist attitudes were taught in childhood. to ask them.
The announcement by Sven Morloka, a member of the FDP city council, that his parliamentary group will vote in favor of the Migrants’ Advisory Council proposal came as a surprise. Africa should not be narrowed down to the images conveyed by zoo events. It is a large continent, made up, for example, of technological progress and ‘exploitation for our good’.
Morloch himself was in Kenya for two weeks recently. There he did not see a single person who would match the image conveyed in the zoo. He also urged some council colleagues to read the request carefully: the zoo was not accused of racism, but criticized events with racist stereotypes.
With the support of the left, the Greens and some SPDs as well as private individuals, the proposal of the Migrant Advisers Council finally won a clear majority. There were 36 votes in favor, 22 against.
Mayor Burkhard Jung’s (SPD) behavior during the vote was also eloquent. He abstained, but is now personally called upon to work with relevant stakeholders to develop new event formats. Support for zoo director Jörg Junhold would have looked different.