“Democracy is an export article”

betterplace at the ceremony of the CARE Partnership Award and the CARE Millenium Award that go to the Tuareg leader Mano Aghali from Niger and the Premier Minister of Luxemburg Jean-Claude Juncker.

A few impressions.

“It’s a little lame, fair enough, but at least it’s moving forward.”

Development aid or, rather, development collaboration between equal partners (Jean-Claude Juncker stresses in his speech how out of date “development aid” is – as an expression and as a concept) is a quite serious issue. Nonetheless there is a lot to laugh about at the event just by the Brandenburger Tor. The German Minister of Finance, Peer Steinbrück, who is giving the honorific speech for his friend Jean Claude, starts off well but then gets carried away in his attempt of self-promotion.

“Sometimes you have to make two steps back before you can make a step forward,” says the Embassador of Niger.

Juncker receives the Millenium Award for his achievements in the struggle against poverty. It’s the first time that this award is being given to someone, which, for German standards, “can already be considered a tradition.” This man just dares to say it. It is very impressive how to the point he phrases things, and in the most accurate German. He simply addresses clichès, uncomfortable facts and short-comings without beating around the bush at all. He explains complex ideas with images that everyone can understand. And he switches to an equally eloquent French just like that, when he interrupts his speech for a personal dialog with Mano Aghali.

“I’m from the front,” says the retired development worker.

Even if you don’t have a clue – you just know that the Tuareg Aghali is a great fighter and diplomat. Compared to the others his speech is quite condensed. He is happy to receive the award, you can see that, but you can also see that he is thinking about the work that is still lying ahead of him. Which doesn’t mean that this man doesn’t have a sense of humour. When I’m being introduced to him by the buffet I am overwhelmed by his presence (I openly admit that my legs were a bit shaky). Next thing I notice is the fact that Aghali’s eyes are laughing constantly. It might sound strange now but it is the truth.

We are a colourful bunch in every respect: the development worker, the Embassador of Niger, the manager of the famous Charitè Hospital in Berlin, the foundation lady, and myself are enjoying the African food together – as we’re discussing this and that, and a lot of it is triggered by Junckers speach: “Democracy is no democracy, if you have it and keep it to yourself – democracy is an export article” – that’s what stuck to everyone’s mind. Everyone agrees on that.

More: about the award ceremony (in German), about Mano Aghali and his organisation HED-Tamat (also in German, please contact CARE for more information), about Niger and Jean-Claude Juncker.

1 Response to ““Democracy is an export article””


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