issue #1 paths o4. 2014
On the cover The Berlin Wall showing a section of the East Side Gallery, a memorial for freedom created after the fall of the wall in 1989. Cover image: Neil Baird.
MARGENT ISSUE #1 APRIL 2014 Published monthly Editor Emma Charalambous Sub-editor Vincenzo Sassu Picture editor Eugenio Grosso Designed by Lisa Dal Lago and Neil Baird Production Neil Baird ADERTISING ENQUIRIES email@example.com
FOLLOW US Twitter@MargentMag Special thanks to Harry Hardie, Ian Denning, Fabio, Gahee, Ambar, William, Francesca, Kibri, Amir, Panico Neocleous, Yiannis Maratheftis, Fethi Akinci, Dave and Kira Gee. © 2014 Margent All rights reserved Printed by printed.com 2
CONTENTS 03 04
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Editorial Strangers together
London is a cosmopolitan city with enclaves of different religions and cultures. Eugenio Grosso maps out six of these major religions.
My friend the enemy
After coming face to face on the battlefield, two old men meet by chance 30 years later only to become the best of friends. Emma Charalambous interviews them, and shares with us their story of reunification.
This year marks the 25th Anniversary since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Neil Baird walks along the line of the wall and investigates what traces of it remain.
Who’s my match?
Six individuals. Three couples. Lisa Dal Lago talks about life across different cultures through the experiences of young people sharing their future together.
Dere, born in Ethiopia and raised in Cuba and the Canary Islands, now lives in London. Vincenzo Sassu narrates Dere’s story of pilgrimage through time and space, revealing the difficulties and pleasures of being Ethio-Cuban.
NOTES from THE EDITOR We document, investigate and talk about the boundaries that we all encounter in our daily lives, revealing histories and events from around the globe.
The world as we know it is shaped by a variety of borders and boundaries, both visible and invisible. A country’s territory is determined by its political borders – in the same manner that an ethnic community’s confines can be constructed according to the social and racial boundaries within an area. Margent revolves around these themes of division, marginalisation and segregation. We document, investigate and talk about the boundaries that we all encounter in our daily lives, revealing histories and events from around the globe. And we pose the question to you, the reader, ‘what kind of lines, obstacles or barriers do you face?’ Our stories transcend London, crossing international borders, and reaching out to people across the globe. As interesting as it is for a European to read about the cultural pilgrimage of Dere, an African-born, Cuban-raised, Spanish migrant living in London, it is just as appealing for an American to read about the current state of the Berlin Wall, and how it is disappearing under burgeoning urban development. Tales of friendship and love, religion and culture, as well as migration and political marginalisation are featured in this first issue of Margent, which focuses on the cultural influences in society, and sets the tone of our magazine as an educational and knowledge-enriching publication. The editorial team is, itself, international, and we hope you can feel the personal touch in the articles, while also appreciating our desire to give free expression to the fascinating and intimate memoirs of the diverse people we will be featuring in upcoming issues. Emma Louise Charalambous Editor
together Photographs and text by Eugenio Grosso
To wander through Londonâ€™s streets, is to immerse oneself in the different faiths and cultures that give this multicultural city its shape. In one day, it is possible to embark in an imaginary journey around the world, to explore every religion and every ritual, from Europe across to the farthest ends of Asia. 6
London is a metropolis where different religions and cultures coexist one next to another. With its mix of Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Islamic and Hindu people it is an incredible mix of languages, races, colours and tastes. All these elements combined together have shaped this city into a place ready to embrace new people. Here there are no strangers, as everybody is one. People in London can always find their roots, their traditional food, a corner where they can hear their own language like at back home. Sometimes even more than they do at home. London is the
on the left :
A worshiper is seen at Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha. Both women and men in Sikh religion are able to officiate rites with equal duties and rights. The shrine in the picture is the the most sacred place in the temple and there is always a minister taking care of it. previous pages :
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is the Hindu temple in Neasden. It is the largest Hindu temple outside India, it took 3 years to be built and it cost ÂŁ12 million. The temple is the destination of a large amount of hindu worshippers from London and all over UK. The temple was built following the traditional rules. It was cited in the Guinness World Records 2000.
If on the one hand immigrants tend to integrate into the environment they land in, at the same time they have the psychological need to preserve their own identity.
residence of the largest foreign community, it houses the largest temples that have been built outside their country of origin. The authentic spirit of every culture is still alive in this big city, even despite the changes going on in the world. Members of communities usually cluster in the same areas, recreating the environment they come from. The elements that tend to put together members of the same ethnic group or culture are almost always the same: food and religion. For this reason you will find kosher food in Golders Green, where the Jewish community reside.
You will see a river of long beards beside Regentâ€™s Park at 1pm when the prayer finishes and the Mosque starts to empty. And you will hear worships and see amazing colourful saari and turbans at Southall, where the Sikh community built its temple. If on the one hand immigrants tend to integrate into the environment they land in, at the same time they have the psychological need to preserve their own identity. For this reason they enforce the cultural background perpetrating their tradition and radicalising the characteristic elements. 7
The result is a hybrid, a slightly different version of the original culture, adapted to the new context. Collecting these stories, and discovering what we are surrounded by, has been an unexpected journey around the world without moving out beyond the M25. Our trip starts at Neasden, where BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir has been built. It is the largest Hindu Temple outside Asia, built over three years between 1993 and 1996. It is made of Bulgarian limestone and Italian Carrara marble, which was shipped to India, hand carved, and then sent back to build the temple. The entire project cost £ 12 million.
A portrait of Mr Singh inside Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha. Mr Sing is a Sikh worshiper and use to go often to the temple. As a Sikh, he has to keep a Kirpan with him in every moment of his life. The Kirpan is a traditional knife representing mental independence and courage. Sikhs consider themselves saint-soldiers who have the duty to defend the rights of the oppressed.
The temple is a centre of interest not only for the worshippers of the area, but also for those from all over the British Isles. Buses packed with Indian natives arrive everyday from all over the UK to visit the temple, as well as classes who also visit it in order to learn more about the Indian culture. The Sikh are another important Indian community in London. Sikh people come from the Indian region of Punjab: from as far back as the Colonial age they were considered by the British as a ‘warrior race’ and were included in the ‘Imperial Service Troops’. At Southall the Sikh community has built its temple ‘Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha’ which, again, is the largest Sikh temple in Europe. Sikh religion follows the teachings by Guru Nanak dating back to
Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha is the Sikh temple in Southall. It is the largest Sikh temple in Europe and it is allocated in the area where the largest Sikh community resides. Along the major temple other temples belonging to the same group were built in the same neighbourhood.
Sikh people come from the Indian region of Punjab: from as far back as the Colonial age they were considered by the British as a â€˜warrior raceâ€™.
the 16th Century. It is an extremely tolerant religion where the same rights are given to both women and men. Another major community is the Islamic one, which includes various ethnic groups: Arabs, Blacks, converted Europeans, Pakistani and again Indians. According to the website Muslims in Britain* London counts 371 mosques. From the huge ‘Baitul Futuh’ in Morden, which can contain up to 10,000 worshippers, we arrive to the smaller ‘Central Mosque’ at Regent’s Park. Its golden dome is a landmark and evokes the atmosphere of Jerusalem and the Western Wall few meters from Madame Tussaud and Sherlock Holmes’ house. Continuing the journey through this religious map of the city we arrive at Golders Green. Here hordes of Orthodox Jewish children run along the street 10
the London Central Mosque at Regent Park is also an Islamic Culture Centre. It was completed in 1978. From the beginning of the 20th Century much effort had been made to build a Mosqsue in London. The final decision was taken in 1940 when the war cabinet allocated £100000 for acquiring a site for a mosque in London. It was decided to pay a tribute to all of the Muslim Indian soldiers dead to defend the British Empire on the right :
a view of the Baitul Futuh Mosque at Norden. It is the largest mosque in Western Europe. Its capacity is about 10000 people and it was completed in 2003.
in their black coats and hats after attending classes at the Talmudic school. The other members of the Jewish community, which are spread around in the city, visit the area on Friday before dusk, the beginning of the Shabbat. They come to buy kosher food and wine for the week and have the best falafel in town.
We arrive to the smaller â€˜Central Mosqueâ€™ at Regentâ€™s Park. Its golden dome is a landmark and evokes the atmosphere of Jerusalem and the Western Wall
The busy Golders Green Road quickly empties when dark comes on Friday afternoon, as all members of the community gather in their houses to commemorate the holy days that follow. During the day on Shabbat, on Saturday, the streets are crowded again. Despite this, most of the shops are closed and there are only few cars driving down the streets, as work is forbidden during this time. The day after, once Shabbat has ended, we move to another neighbourhood: Farringdon, more precisely at the Italian Catholic church of Saint Peter in Clerkenwell Road. On Sunday morning, a few minutes before 11am, a crowd of opulent ladies adorning jewels and elegant men in blue and black suits start kissing each other under the blue starred ceiling. They are waiting for the sung Mass, the most important meeting of the week. From the crowd you can hear the Italian language and all the dialects you are able to recognize. Past the gate, once entered the church, you are in Italy. The Mass is in Italian, the people pray, sing and talk in
San Peterâ€™s Italian Catholic Church, Clerkenwell Road. The Eucharist is the most important moment in the Catholic ritual. It is a renactment of the last supper as depicted in the Gospel: the wine and the host symbolise the blood and the body of Jesus respectively. During this part of the ceremony the community gathers closely together and all its members become a single entity.
their mother tongue. After the Mass it is time for a coffee, an espresso you can only drink at ‘Terroni and Sons’. This shop has been open since 1878, and here the members of the community can find all the goods from their home country. The journey concludes in a quiet place hidden behind a white wall and a green defense of trees. It is the Wat Buddhapadipa, a Buddhist Thai temple at Wimbledon. From the street you cannot recognise it, however once inside – with the sun shining in your eyes, embraced by traditional Thai architecture – you will doubt which country you are in. 14
Saint Peter’s Italian Church, Clerkenwell Road: a moment of the Holy Mass. In the background the priest of the Italian community Padre Carmelo. During his sermons Padre Carmelo talks about topics like sex, corruption and money. He is extremely modern and in line with the changes brought to the Catholic Church by the new Pope Francis.
Golders Green, Finchley Road. A group of young Chassidims, Orthodox Jewish, are seen outside their school. They are students at the Talmudic School and their tasks consists of studying the holy books and praying. They are teenagers but their lives are slightly different from those of their peers belonging to other religions. For instance they are not allowed to have an email.
London is all these places, people and much more. Mentioned above is just a sample of the people and communities this city holds within itself, showing the mix of identities it has to offer. London is a city of immigration; it means fear, hope and pain for a lot of people. However, any inhabitant that is asked for a definition, will call it home.
London is a city of immigration; it means fear, hope and pain for a lot of people. However, any inhabitant that is asked for a definition, will call it home.
Wat Buddhapadipa is a Thai Buddhist temple in Wimbledon. The architecture copies the Thai buddhist temples in detail. It also functions as the residence of the monks who take care of it.
my friend the enemy Photographs and text by Emma Louise Charalambous
Standing in the battlefield just outside of Lefka, the two men share their poignant recollections of that day in history. Yianni and Fethi have even brought their children and grandchildren to this battlefield to plant olive trees, as a symbol of peace, teaching the younger generation that there are no confines to love and friendship.
Panicos takes personal pride in the friendship that has formed – ’I definitely did not expect this to happen when I was writing the book, I would have never imagined that such a story would come out from it’. Now that he is retired he spends his days promoting peace and friendship by presenting a documentary film that he made on the friendship to schools all over Europe, visiting Fethi and other friends on the Northern side of the island, as well as dedicating time to writing another book on this subject matter.
The world we know is shaped by a variety of borders and boundaries, both visible and invisible. The story of territorial division on the island of Cyprus is not a new one. However, against all odds three old men have managed to form an unbreakable bond of friendship, despite the physical barrier that separates them.
History between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots runs deep, as the two ethnic groups once lived alongside each other in peace. However, since the events of 1974, the two groups have lived disconnected from one another – Northern Cyprus, where Turkish Cypriots live, and Southern Cyprus, home to the Greek Cypriot population. The 180km of UN demilitirised zone, the so-called Buffer Zone which runs the length of the Green Line, has become a permanent marker of the border of Cyprus, separating the two sides. Ever since 1963, young Greek Cypriot men have been obliged to complete 25 months of army service 20
once they graduate from high school, feeding the constructed partition that still exists between the ‘Turkish’ North side of Cyprus and the ‘Greek’ South. Despite the hatred, and – in some extreme cases racism, that exists between the two communities, there is still hope for reunification. The unexpected friendship that formed between Panicos, Yiannis and Fethi – three sexagenarian men who fought on opposite sides during the 1974 war in Cyprus – is the perfect example of how barriers can be overcome. In 2008 Panicos Neocleous, a Greek Cypriot author, published his first book entitled ‘Ignoring 1974’, first in Greek and later translated into Turkish, which
contained witness accounts from Greek Cypriot soldiers who fought on the front line in 1974. One of these soldiers was Yiannis Maratheftis. In the book, Yiannis describes a night raid launched by the Greek Cypriot Natural Guard near Lefka, a village on the Northern side of Cyprus whose inhabitants were mostly Turkish Cypriots. ‘[Yiannis and his fellow comrades] marched down a hill on the East side of Lefka, entered and crossed a valley at the bottom of the hill and then started ascending on the opposite hill towards the Turkish position’ Yiannis tells me during an interview conducted after visiting the battlefield where it
I found the man who shot you – I told him – he called me last night and he wants to meet with you. What do you think?
Nicosia is the last divided capital in the world. When the Green Line was established in 1974, the city was cut in half. Over the past 40 years Nicosia has continued to grow, on both sides of the line, making it almost impossible to locate it from above. As life has continued to thrive outwards from the border, the Green Line has become integrated as part of the urban layout.
Over coffee Yianni (left) and Fethi (right) look through a Turkish newspaper that featured their story the previous Saturday. Just like any old friends meeting for coffee, they go on to share a platter of pourekkia, a traditional deep fried cheese parcel for both Turks and Cypriots. Panico joined them later.
It was a war back then, if he didnâ€™t shoot me I would have shot him, there was nothing personal between us.
happened with all three men. ‘The bullets were falling like rain’ says Yiannis, and as he approached the Turkish Cypriots defending the village, he lost his commander, and himself got hit in the head by enemy fire. ‘I heard a “doom” sound and I knew I was hit. I fell down but thankfully I did not lose consciousness’ Yiannis explains. He later fled the scene, leaving behind his helmet, gun and military equipment. Not long after Panicos’ book was published in Turkish, it fell into Fethi Akinci’s hands. Fethi was a Turkish Cypriot soldier defending Lefka in 1974 at the time of the war. While reading the book, Fethi came across Yiannis’ account, he recalled his own memories of that night, and realised that ‘the man who attacked [him], and whom [he] shot and eventually left his helmet to run away was indeed Yiannis’. Panicos, who acted as the go-between, brought these two former enemies together. He recounts how events unfolded the day that Fethi realised the man he thought he had killed was, in fact, still alive. ‘It was 11.50 at night; I remember it exactly, when I received the phone call. I answered, and a voice in English exclaimed “My name is Fethi Akinci and I am the one who shot Yiannis Maratheftis” – I could not believe it!’ Panicos told me.
Sharing a cup of coffee over a casual chat. But what type of coffee is it? Known globally as Turkish or Arabic coffee, to Greek Cypriots the only correct name is Cypriot coffee. The two sides of the island share many commonalities: words, looks, foods and even coffees. Despite each side identifying the common as their own, it is such similarities that show us how Greek and Turkish Cypriots are both, in fact, Cypriots.
After digesting the words he had just heard, Fethi asked whether he could meet the man he had presumed dead for so long. To his delight, the answer was a positive one. ‘I called Yiannis and the first thing I asked was whether he was standing, because, if he was, he needed to sit down, otherwise he might fall over with what I was about to tell him: “I found the man who shot you” I told him, “he called me last night and he wants to meet with you. What do you think?”’. Without a second thought Yiannis agreed. As he told me ‘It was a war back then, if he didn’t shoot me I would have shot him, there was nothing personal between us.’ Fethi went on to explain to me that on the day of the battle ‘for 12 long hours [they] were trying to kill each other’. When it was over, he saw a Greek Cypriot soldier dead and covered in blood on the battlefield, and he recalls the first thought that passed through his mind was that the soldier’s mother and father that were waiting for him back home: ‘I felt overwhelmed. I also found a pierced helmet on the floor next to this soldier with blood and hair on the inside and I thought that this soldier must also be dead. After discovering he was still alive 35 years later, I rejoiced! It was the biggest relief I have ever felt, I was so happy to hear that Yiannis was alive!’
The border in Cyprus is now open to the public to cross over to the other side, at various checkpoints along the Green Line. Anybody can pass over, as long at the present a validated picture ID alongside a form (pictured) completed with name, passport number and nationality. Panico writes ‘HUMAN’ in the nationality place every time.
Volkan (left) is two academic years above Xenia (right) in school. Even though they attend the same school, the only time they converse during these hours is at break times. Sitting on stairs within the school establishment, Volkan and Xenia discuss like any other teens would: about crushes, exams and sometimes about the Cyprus problem.
From the beginning it was not ‘Greek Cypriot Xenia’ it was just Xenia, and I was not ‘Turkish Cypriot Volkan’, I was just Volkan, and that is how it should always be!
I have been wearing this necklace every day for the past couple of years, and I love it!’. Xenia displays the love she has for the whole of Cyprus by wearing a necklace with a charm of the island of Cyprus and a peace charm next to it. Not shy to promote the beauty of her homeland, and the reunification of sides, Xenia is proud of her country and wishes one day that both Greek and Turkish Cypriots shall live together peacefully.
In a state of perpetual social change, Cyprus is an island torn in two by the division of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Even though many inhabitants are still scarred by the Turkish invasion in 1974, there are groups of people who are trying to promote positive change in both the political and social sphere. The Cyprus Friendship Program (c f p ) is one of these organisations. Xenia Kantouna and Volkan Nami met through the CFP, and have remained close friends to date. Both attend the only school, on the Southern side of the Green Line, that enrolls both Greek and Turkish Cypriot children, and, until they got involved with the CFP, the two youngsters were simply acquaintances. Volkan, a 17-year old Turkish Cypriot, explains to me how he believes that ‘it is a matter of language and exposure’, and with those barriers overcome, everybody will be able to be friends. Sixteen-year old Xenia agrees. She tells me how ‘language is so important that it is the biggest factor! If [she] could learn a language tomorrow it would be Turkish’.
Likewise, Volkan would like to learn Greek in a flash. The well-articulated teens go on to describe how they view the social issues of Cyprus, and how they believe they can instigate positive change in society: It is not a question of “it does not matter” where you are from. We are all from the same island. It is not like me being friends with an American or with an Italian; we are on the same island! It is not a question of lets be friends with other countries – we are the same country and people do not see that!’ Xenia says passionately. ‘People don’t see what an amazing place it can be if we are all together! I love Cyprus, I genuinely love my country, I find it beautiful. And we can all have that…there is nothing dividing us or stopping us…’ Volkan believes that this is a step in the right direction for uniting the two communities, however ‘we need to take it to a more macro level, it needs to go a step further. From the beginning it was not ‘Greek Cypriot Xenia’ it was just Xenia, and I was not “Turkish Cypriot Volkan”, I was just Volkan, and that is how it should always be!’. 27
From the moment all three men met in August 2009, but especially since the second meeting, Fethi and Yiannis and Panicos, along with their families and close friends have become inseparable and, most importantly, fighters for peace. Yianni’s children call Fethi ‘Uncle’, and both men’s wives, despite having a language barrier, have bonded and spend hours on end together when the two families meet up. They are a living example of peace: two men who shot each other now united, talking about peace, reconciliation and brotherhood, as Panicos tells me.
On the Southern facing side of the Pentadahtylos mountain range, located on the North side of the island, two Turkish flags – the size of 4 football fields each – look over Nicosia. There, as a constant reminder to residence of the Turkish government’s presence on the island, at night time the flags lights up, illuminating the horizon and making them visible all 24hours of each day.
35 years after the occurrence of these events, at a time when Greek and Turkish Cypriots have learned to live with a divided homeland, Yiannis met, and became friends with the man who once tried to kill him. Ever since their reunion in 2009, all three old men have stayed in touch, and remained good friends, regardless of the fact that a political border still separates them.
The memories of the invasion, and the segregation between Greeks and Turks are visible all over Nicosia. Youngsters graffiti phrases on walls and in public spaces such as ‘Cyprus is Greek’ (left), and on occasions more extreme mottos such as ‘A Good Turk is a Dead Turk’. The scars of loss that run deep in most Greek Cypriots is passed on through generations, creating hatred and anger within the younger generation.
I felt overwhelmed. I also found a pierced helmet on the floor next to this soldier with blood and hair on the inside and I thought that this soldier must also be dead.
After discovering he was still alive 35 years later, I rejoiced! It was the biggest relief I have ever felt, I was so happy to hear that Yianni was alive!
Walking along the road that divides the battlefield where the fought, the two friends chat casually. For most people who drive along this road, it is simply another scenic route, however for Yianni and Fethi, it is the place where the crucial events of war, but also reunification, occurred.
Remains of the ‘dead’ zone at Kommandanten Strasse. In some parts of Berlin the only traces of the wall’s existence are the remains of the extensive security zone (or ‘dead zone’) which ran most of the way along the Eastern side of the wall. These areas are now becoming valuable building land and are quickly being developed. Soon there will be no traces of the wall in places like this.
the wall Photographs and text by Neil Baird
More than a physical barrier the Berlin wall became a symbol of The Cold War, of opposing ideologies in a polarised Europe and a divided Germany. Later it represented freedom and unification. On the twenty fifth anniversary of its fall, what traces remain to help us understand this recent history? 34
Twenty five years ago this year, on the night of 9 November, the Berlin wall fell, marking an era of change throughout Europe. It had stood for more than 28 years, during which time it developed from a hastily constructed barbed wire fence into a sophisticated controlled security zone. Those of us old enough to remember the events leading up to the fall of Soviet communism in Europe will be able to recall the anticipation and ultimate euphoria of that night in November 1989, when the situation finally came to a head and years of repression were released in a celebration of freedom across Germany and beyond.
Remains of the inner security wall in the churchyard of St Hedwig on Liesen Strasse. When the wall was construxcted little thought was given to the sanctity of burial grounds. In some places remains were removed to make way for the wall.
What I discovered was a mixed story. In some places the wall still exists as a monument to history, or a creative expression of freedom with its art and graffiti covered surfaces.
I was only dimly aware of the history of Berlin’s division, and of the 1949 Berlin blockade and airlift (it was several years before I was born), which helped establish the strange phenomenon of a divided city deep within Soviet East Germany. I knew a little more about the 1961 Berlin Crisis when American and Soviet tanks faced-off across the border at Checkpoint Charlie, and of John F. Kennedy’s famous visit to Berlin where he declared ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ in solidarity with people on both sides of the wall. And I have memories of black and white film footage showing East Berliners’ brave escapes to freedom from third floor windows
and desperate dashes through barbed wire and over breeze-block walls. But what is left of the wall today, and what of its impact on Berlin? I wanted to find out for myself what traces remain twenty-five years after it fell. What I discovered was a mixed story. In some places the wall still exists as a monument to history, or a creative expression of freedom with its art and graffiti covered surfaces. Graffiti covers almost everything in Berlin, a kind of legacy of defiance – like the scrawled expressions of freedom that appeared on the western side of the wall during those repressive years. In some places there are
Development of site at KapelleUfer Strasse. The look of Berlin has changed dramatically since 1989 as a result of building. Traces of the wall are changing with it. Here the double row of cobble stones is the only sign that the wall ran across this busy road.
what seem like forgotten, secret sections covered in weeds, as if hiding from the developers’ bulldozers. Elsewhere lines of cobble markers are set into the road – a reminder of where the wall once ran through the city centre, though in places the line unexpectedly terminates or runs into the side of a Starbucks coffee shop. There remains some evidence of the hinterland mauer – the inner security wall, and of wild, abandoned areas that were once part of the ‘dead zone’ that existed behind the border wall. But increasingly these are disappearing and being replaced by anonymous-looking apartments or corporate buildings.
There remains some evidence of the inner security wall, and of wild, abandoned areas that were once part of the ‘dead zone’ that existed behind the border wall. But increasingly these are disappearing.
After 1948, when Berlin was divided up by the allies, and before the wall was constructed, around 3 million people migrated from the East to the West, many of them across the Berlin border. The construction of the wall was an attempt to curtail this flow. Between 1961 and 1989 there were around 10,000 attempts to escape across the wall, and perhaps 5,000 people succeeded – mostly in the early years. More than 100 people died trying. The rest were imprisoned, usually for a minimum of three years. The wall divided families and friends, parents from children, and husbands from wives.
Part of the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse. The memorial includes an area in which has been preserved the complete security area or ‘dead zone’ with its control tower, signal fence and control strip. These steel posts, mark the route of the wall for hundreds of metres. Many of the houses here ran very close to the wall and were eventually demolished as they were deemed a security risk.
Back of the wall at the East Side Gallery facing the Spree river. The East Side Gallery is now under threat from development.
FACTS AND FIGURES Berlin is situated 110 miles inside the former East Germany.
The city was divided for 40 years. The wall stood for 28 of those. The wall surrounded West Berlin. The section dividing the inner city was around 43km long. The section dividing West Berlin from the rest of Germany was 112km long.
Prior to 1961 and the erection of the wall, between 2.5 and 3.2 million East Germans fled to the West. This was 20% of the East German population. There were around 1200 escapes in the first year of the wall’s existence. In that year 50 people were killed trying. It is estimated that after 1961 10,000 people attempted to cross the border and 5000 of them succeeded, mostly prior to 1975.
A few months after 13 August 1961 600 people escaped via the city’s canal system. More than 600 people died attempting to escape to the West across the border and at least 136 of those across the Berlin wall (numbers are disputed). There were in all an estimated 71 tunnel projects of which 20% were successful. Tunnel 29. In 1962 twenty nine people escaped through a tunnel from Bernauer Strasse to Schönholzer Strasse. Tunnel 57. Over two nights in1964 57 people escaped through a tunnel dug from Bernauer Strasse to Strelitzer Strasse. By the 1970s around 170,000 East German soldiers guarded the wall around West Berlin against defections to the West. On 9 November 1989, over 20,000 East Berliners crossed the checkpoint at Bösebrücke in the first hour of it opening.
East and West Berlin showing inner city checkpoints 1 Bernholmer strasse 2 Chausseestrasse 3 Invalidenstrasse 4 Checkpoint charlie 5 Heinrich-heine strasse 6 Oberaumbrücke 7 Sonenallee
The walls of Jericho, the Great Wall of China, Hadrian’s wall – human societies have built walls that divide or surround cities and nations for many centuries. In our own time there have been walls in Germany, Northern Ireland and the West Bank. India is building walls along its borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh, and the USA has erected a fence along the entire length of its border with Mexico. The desire to protect ourselves by keeping others out, or in, seems to be very much alive, but aren’t these efforts destined to go the way of the others?
Bösebrücke checkpoint at Bernholmer Strasse. On the evening of 9 November 1989 East German border guards were overwhelmed by the numbers of people that began gathering at the bridge after an unofficial announcement that border controls were to be removed. Unable to hold back the huge crowd, the guards raised the barriers. Within an hour 20.000 people crossed the Bösebrücke bridge without being checked.
THE ANATOMY OF THE WALL Early in the morning of Sunday August 13th 1961 in an attempt to halt the migration of East Germans to the West, GDR soldiers undertook the extraordinary task of erecting a barrier around West Berlin. To the amazement of Berliners on both sides of the border, this temporary arrangement, which consisted largely of multiple rolls of barbed security wire, was largely replaced within months by a wall made of concrete blocks. Roads that ran from the East to the West were blocked off and traffic was diverted. In some areas, where houses ran close to the border, first doors and later windows on the border side were boarded up, thus incorporating the houses themselves into the border fortifications. Later still houses and other buildings that were deemed to constitute a ‘security threat’ were demolished in order to make room for a more sophisticated security zone behind the border wall. Before their demolition some of those buildings close to the wall provided cover for a few of the many escape attempts that were made in the months and years following the wall’s erection. The division of the city cut through eight S-Bahn and 4 U-Bahn commuter railway lines. In East Berlin 13 of the 33 U-Bahn stations remained closed for more than 28 years. In some places where lines ran from stations in the West across the border and back again eastern side ‘ghost’ stations were created, where the trains ran through the unused, but heavily guarded stations in the East.
Over time the wall fortifications became ever more advanced. Border guard officers in charge of a section of the border were held responsible for every escape and escape attempt, and so proactively lobbied for even tighter security measures in their stretch. In addition, every escape was analysed and the wall and its security area developed accordingly. There were many updates to the wall, even as recently as the late 1980s. ‘Grensmauer 75’ the most sophisticated iteration of the wall was built between 1975 and 1989, and is characterised by its long anti-vehicle footing, and rounded anticlimb pipe capping. In its final form the wall stood between 3.6 and 4.2 metres high. There were over 100 guard towers erected around West Berlin, including 32 towers on the inner city border. The entire system was 166 kilometers in length and in most places was at least 50 metres deep. It consisted of the main concrete border wall topped by rounded pipe, a control strip between 6 and 15 metres wide and covered with sand to retain footprints, vehicle obstacles consisting of a pit and anti-tank traps, floodlights, a service road 4 metres wide for security vehicles, a 2 metres high sensor fence which activated visual and acoustic alarms when disturbed, alongside various other fortifications such as guard towers, bunkers, dog runs and signalling apparatus; a rear or ‘hinterland’ wall which stood at least 2 metres high in most places along the length of the border.
Berlin Wall circa 1975-89
1 Actual border 2 Border wall 3 Anti-vehicle trench 4 Control strip (sand) 5 Vehicle track 6 Security lighting 7 Surveillance towers 8 Anti-vehicle obstacles 9 Signal fence 10 Inner wall
The Berlin Wall was an extraordinary undertaking which despite the best efforts of those that built it, was ultimately doomed to fail. Perhaps more surprising though is the effort that some were prepared to make in attempting to escape. Few Berliners wanted the wall. Almost everyone celebrated its downfall and what that symbolised. It has taken the city of Berlin decades to agree on what, if anything, should be done to preserve its memory, and to immortalise who suffered and died during its existence, symptomatic perhaps of the complex of issues involved.
Border guard tower beside Schiffahrtskanal. The apartment buildings seen on the left of the tower were here during the years of the wallâ€™s existence. These were spared demolition, though it is likely that as in many other areas, their doors and windows on the wall side would have been bricked up in a bid to prevent escape attempts.
As I traced the line of the inner city wall I felt a mix of feelings: hope because the story of the Berlin wall, as well as showing the worst of human tyranny, also demonstrates that the human spirit will always strive for freedom; sadness that many of the artefacts of this part of our past, so close to us in time and space, are now disappearing; and a resonant fear that the history may be repeating itself. If the story of the Berlin wall can teach us anything it must be that walls will eventually fall, but that the story of their existence will be one of tragedy and suffering. It seems that this is a lesson we have not yet learned.
watch archive footage
East Berliners jump to freedom across the Berlin wall [http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=ExOYvW5vCj4] Image: Taken in 1986 by Thierry Noir at Bethaniendamm in BerlinKreuzberg. Used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
The Wall: Germany postwar iron curtain [http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=IcdKGtzK8kg] Berlin wall 1961-1989 [http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=w8GDs92-L34]
OUR next ISSUE MARGENT
exploring boundaries beyond boundaries
ISSUE issue #2
ENVIRONMENT ENVIRONMENT o5. 2014 04.2014
ENVIRONMENTAL BOUNDARIES Breaking the Barrages – The issues surrounding this year’s unprecedented flooding in Southern England. Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) – Wind Turbines; what does the homebuyer say? Growing Deserts – global warming is pushing the boundaries of drought prone areas wider. Three Gorges Dam – uprooting people and trees – the movement of whole villages and the clearing of land to build the Three Gorges Dam has changed the social and environmental face of the Yangtze River, China. Was it worth it? Shrinking Seaworld – coral reef bleaching, and tourism activities are causing a rapid decrease in the area of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. How much longer can the environment be pressured for the sake of tourists? Soaring Pollution – Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power station outside Nottingham. ‘The plant emits some 8-10 million tonnes of CO2 annually making it the 18th highest CO2 emitting power station in Europe’. 45
whoâ€™s my match? Photographs and text by Lisa Dal Lago
Six people, six lives, six cultures, six worlds. All in London. Though these men and women have different nationalities they have chosen to share their present and their future together uniting as a couple. Can you guess whoâ€™s partner is who?
According to the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, the number of foreign citizens in the UK has more than doubled over the past ten years. Moreover, London has become the area with the highest concentration of migrants of in the entire country (2.8 million foreign-born people in 2012, counting for 40% of London’s citizens). In this context, it is no surprise how here, in London, numerous cultures are constantly in contact with one another. Rather than generating clashes, this transition towards a cosmopolitan society is bringing people together, so close in fact that it is not rare to see couples forming by men and women of different ethnic origins. The everyday reality of London still offers significant examples of how integration between different cultures is not only possible, but it is the most powerful form of human enrichment.
I think if you keep curious abouth things, you’ll be more likely to discover new cultures and new people.
Younger generations have the opportunity to travel abroad and gain experiences for study or work reasons, or for simple pleasure of exploring new horizons. Fabio is a young Italian man who arrived to London in 2007, right after obtaining his BA. He grew up in Udine, a fairly small city in the North-East of Italy. ‘After finishing university I was tired of my life in Udine, I wanted to get away. I wasn’t really planning to stay long. I left with a suitcase or two, thinking I’d stay for around 6 months or so’. He lived in a hostel for a little while, until he found a job and a place to live in. It was around this time when he met Gahee, his future partner: they were both working at Yo Sushi, the chain sushi restaurant. Gahee is Korean and grew up in Seoul: as a big and chaotic capital city, it is a completely different environment compared to Udine. Their relationship had its initial difficulties, as speaking in a foreign language led to misunderstandings and a few verbal fights. In time though they have found a balance: Fabio began to meet more people from Korea and with time he felt it was ‘much easier to speak to them for me, more than with other European people for example. It’s as if we were on the same wavelength’. Gahee and Fabio are now parents of a 5 month-old baby boy, Noah. In a period of short time the three of them will be leaving London for a suburban and quiet area in Seoul, where they are going to start a new life as a family. Gahee feels that after nine years away from home, it is the right time to go 48
Fabio and Gahee with their son Noah, who is five months old. Fabio thinks that ‘if you keep curious about things, you’ll be more likely to discover new cultures and new people’.
back. Even though she is happy for her son to grow up in her home country she does not want him to go to school there: ‘Students study long hours, they start early in the morning and go on until late in the evening. All they do is prepare for university. Teenagers are only thinking of university, because of the exam that they have to do to get into one. There is no space for letting your dreams grow freely.’ Both Fabio and Gahee cannot really say what their life will be like: at this moment they feel it is not easy to foresee what the future will bring, but they are both open to possibilities. They might even go to Italy in a few years, if the chance presents itself. Moving to a different country is never easy, and it can create many surprises, both good and bad. Very often it is the bonds between people that help an individual thrive in a foreign land. This is the case with Ambar, who moved to Reading in 2012 from Mexico to complete a Masters degree in Book Design. At the beginning dealing with taxes, bank accounts and similar paperwork proved difficult for her. She also felt that ‘though extremely polite and friendly, the British can be distant and off-standish, unless you are in their close-knit circle’. Despite this, during her time at university she met William, a fellow student from Germany: they got married in January 2014 and they currently reside in London. Over the course of two years the ‘shock’ of living in England has become less strong, and for them ‘being together helps with adjusting to a different country’. Ambar finds that for her, the bond with the Mexican culture is embodied by the closeness of friends and family. Mexican food is another aspect of her heritage that she considers very important. If we think of it, food is more than what we eat – it is the taste of our homeland. Sharing a life together, William and Ambar see their different experiences as a chance to shape their future in their own, unique way: ‘Our cultural heritage is what makes us into who we are now and enriches our relationship as we learn about each other’s background. We enjoy merging the differences and creating our own legacy’.
Kibri and Amir. Even though for Amir England is home, he does not feel too attached to London; he would be happy to live anywhere else. 50
Our cultural heritage is what makes us into who we are now and enriches our relationship. We enjoy merging the differences and creating our own legacy.
Though a different country of birth often results in radically different backgrounds, sometimes it is possible to find more things in common that one would expect. Kibri and Amir are respectively Italian-Ethiopian and British-Iranian and have been together for two years. Kibri was born in Ethiopia, but came to Italy when she was 13. Liz grew up in Tuscany and speaks Italian with the local accent. Amir on the other hand was born in England from an Iranian mother and a British father: his parents met in Iran, during one of his father’s travels. Both Kibri and Amir have lived in different countries before meeting each other two years ago, and as it turned out Amir had resided in Ethiopia for some time as well. Life in other countries is not alien at all to Amir’s family as his grandfather worked in both Ghana and Libya. He feels that perhaps because of this, it was natural for him to explore the world and know different cultures. The relationship that they each share with their own origin differs from one another. Kibri has a very strong bond with her mother and her siblings in Ethiopia, they represent more than just her roots for her: ‘They are my present, they are always with me’. On the other hand, when Amir was younger, his bond with Iran was very strong. Farsi was the first language he ever learnt, and he used to spend one or two months in Iran every year. As a boy he felt he was really attached to his Iranian origins. Ambar and William. They will soon travel to Mexico together, Ambar’s home country. It will be William’s first visit back to his wife’s homeland.
My roots are my family: they are my present, they are always with me.
Growing up however, England has become a more prominent part of his life, especially after he started working. Some of his cousins emigrated to Canada, making the family reunions not so easy anymore. He says: ‘In time it’s hard to maintain a dual culture and the place you live in becomes more important for you. Still, even now I speak Farsi with my mom’. Home for him is England, and Kibri herself loves her life in London. As she said to me: ‘Home for me is everywhere’. Fabio, Gahee, Ambar, William, Kibri and Amir are six people, six lives, six cultures, six worlds. Though they all have a different past, they share the present together, showing us that differences are not an impediment but a source to imagine new realities.
ethio-cuban Photographs and text by Vincenzo Sassu
Like all the Ethiopian orphans, Dere was educated in the values of the socialist revolution and grew up with the myth of Che Guevara. From him he learnt to never give up if you want to achieve your goals
A group of Ethiopian men and women moved to London a few years ago after having spent part of their life in Cuba. They were amongst the 2400 children, orphaned war migrants, who were taken to live in Cuba where they were able to go to school. All of them share a hybrid Ethio-Cuban identity.
Dere helps his only son Darwitt to do the homework. Darwitt was born in Las Palmas (Spain) and moved to London in September at the age of 15. His dream is to become a pop singer or a footballer playing for Barcelona or Arsenal.
It is Friday night and when you enter the small Ethiopian café in Kingsland Road you can sense an atmosphere of special occasions. You feel the energy of the place whilst looking at the faces of people sat around the little tables, drinking coffee, eating kat, injera and several kinds of wat, the typical Ethiopian food. The smoke of the burning incense spreads into the air, following the rhythm of the music of one of the most famous Ethiopian artists who is playing on the radio. Pictures of the country are stretched on all the walls: portraits of workers, women with their children, landscapes of a country that nobody there ever wanted to leave. Everybody speaks Amharic, the official Ethiopian language, except
for two people who sit in the right side of the café, talking to each other in Spanish. They are somehow different from the others. You notice this when you first look at them interacting, the way they speak warmly to each other, gesturing their hands and the expressions of their faces. The first that looks at us is Dere. ‘Bievenido’ he says, shaking a hand and inviting us to sit with them. He is a 45 year old man with a smile so wide that it stretches across his face from side to side. ‘This is like a house for us. A way to be part of the community, to solidify our identity and remember the place where we all come from’, he says while inviting me to stay for a coffee. 55
The Andu Internet CafĂŠ located in Kingsland Road 282 is the place where most of the Ethio-Cubans meet, sharing experiences, problems, thoughts, eating Ethiopian food and listening to the typical music of their homeland.
Dere is the president of the Ethio-Cuba association, a group of 44 men and women living in London after having spent part of their life in Cuba. They were amongst the 2400 children ranging in age from 6 to 13, who were orphaned from the Ethio-Somalian conflict in 1979. Following a deal between Ethiopia’s communist government, under the leadership of Mengistu Hailemariam, and the Cuban Communist party leader Fidel Castro, who sent thousands of its soldiers to fight alongside their Ethiopian comrades against Somalia, these orphaned war migrants were taken to live in Cuba where they were able to go to school. ‘I will never forget the day we left Ethiopia. I remember the fear I was feeling during the journey from Addis Abeba to Abbas, the port where we put to the sea from. The conflict against Somalia was taking place and we escorted by soldiers’. 58
Dere meets with Nicola Serra, supervisor at Whole Foods Market in Stoke Newington Church Street, to sell teff to the American grocery store company. The teff is a fine grain, native to Ethiopia, about the size of a poppy seed that comes in a variety of colours, from white and red to dark brown.
Everything was perfect until I lost my job: the telecommunication company that I founded went bankrupt and after 12 years living in Las Palmas I had to move again and start a new life in another country.
We spent over a month at sea. Once in Cuba, the children were sent to study in rural boarding schools on a small island, la Isla de Juventud, off the coast of mainland Cuba. The schools, known as Escuelas Secundarias Basicas en el Campo (Basic Rural Secondary Schools), educated the children in the values of the socialist revolution. The children were given the basic necessities to help them settle into their new life. For many of them it was very difficult to adjust to the new place, especially because it was so far away from home: ‘When I got there I was eleven and I missed my country more than anything’. Staring at Dere’s face while he speaks is like seeing through his eyes all the images that come to his mind while remembering: the blue of the sky, the deep of the sea, the smell of Caraibi that are always with him wherever he goes. After 5 years living at Isla de la Juventud, Dere finally went to Havana for the first time to study at university, from where he graduated in Cibernetica Matematica. ‘For the first time, I felt the freedom to be myself. That sensation was in my bones even if the difficulties of making a living after graduation made me come back to my motherland after 13 years’. Like Dere, after living in Cuba for many years, the other orphans also found it difficult to settle: some people stayed on the island, unable to leave or choosing not to; others scattered across the globe, immigrating to Great Britain and the U.S. A certain number returned to Ethiopia with a hybrid Ethio-Cuban identity. ‘When I walked the street of Addis Abeba everything was changed, I could not recognize the people around me, I could not recognize myself with them, they could not recognize me. I felt a stranger in my home country. So, I decided to leave after six months and go to Spain asking for political asylum’. Even though the first years in Spain were very difficult for Dere, the best period of his life came later, when he lived in Madrid. There he met many Ethio-cubans, he married one of them whom he had met in Havana before moving to the Canary Islands, the place where he spent most of his life in Europe. ‘It seemed to be like in Cuba, the air that I breathed, the people I met, the way they spoke, their accents. Everything was perfect until I lost my job: the 59
Wherever he travels, Dere carries with him a photo album that he received as a present when he was a child in Cuba. Inside is the story of his life: pictures of Cuba, Ethiopia, Madrid and Las Palmas: ‘Looking at them, makes me really nostalgic’.
telecommunication company that I founded went bankrupt and after 12 years living in Las Palmas I had to move again and start a new life in another country’.
Foreigners in every country, trying to make a new life for themselves, with new rules and hopes, Ethio-Cubans are not nostalgic about any of the countries they have resided in, but only for the people they were originally.
Dere arrived in London two years ago, and after a brief period in Walthan Forest moved to Hackney, where he lives with his son who joined him a few months ago. Spending most of his time with Ethiopian and Spanish people, Dere is still looking for a job. ‘The integration here is not easy, people live in communities that often do not communicate with each other. It is difficult to understand what London can offer me, I think I will have more opportunities once I expand my networking but first I have to find the soul of this place’. Dere’s own soul is divided into many different parts, as the souls of many Ethio-Cuban living here: one part is always rooted in the country of origins, Ethiopia, whereas other parts, whether in Cuba, Spain or London, have tried to construct a new life in the land where they have chosen to live, familiarising themselves with its traditions, sounds and rhythms. Foreigners in every country, trying to make a new life for themselves, with new rules and hopes, Ethio-Cubans are not nostalgic about any of the countries they have resided in, but only for the people they were originally.
map of dere â€™ s journey
One of the best days of Dere and his son Darwitt in Las Palmas enjoying some hours at the zoo of the city
Last family picture before leaving to Cuba in 1979
First picture taken once Dere arrived in Cuba
Spain Dere with some of his best friends in Madrid, where he lived for 5 years
UKRANIAN PROTESTORS Anastasia Taylor-Lind
MIXED MEDIA margent arts reviews
In her series of portraits of Ukrainian protestors, photographer Anastasia Taylor Lind, makes a brilliant mix of modern and old fashioned photography. She decided to exhibit her work on Instagram, a social network that counts 150 millions active users every month and 55 millions pictures shared every day. Two aspects make this work unique: the technique and the environment in which it is shown. What makes this project so worthy is the syncretism of new and old technology. Her pictures are taken with an old Zenza Bronica 6X6 film camera (squared such as the pictures on Instagram), as they were taken with a phone. In fact, her photographs and videos, are recorded with an iPhone mounted on the viewfinder of her camera. She exhibits her images in a context she cannot control. Along with the still images we can see videos of those people moving and starring inside the camera, their eyes are straight gazing in our eyes. The flow of images is uncontrolled, lost, in the huge reservoir of the net. The innovation is in her being contemporary using a old fashioned means (her camera). These photographs are shown in the same manner we are daily assailed by tons of images. A flow of unconstrained pictures usually rapidly consumed. On the contrary, A.T.L. is able to keep our attention and guide us through her work. The structure of an undefined display, floating without a beginning or an end in the characteristic shape of the web. This is a clever example of a not cognizant exhibition in the Internet era. Eugenio Grosso
HUMANS OF NEW YORK (HONY)
Directed by Margarethe von Trotta (2012)
Originally started as a personal project to ‘create an exhaustive catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants’, Brandon Stanton’s street portraits of strangers have quickly gained popularity. During the process of collecting the 10,000 photographs he originally set out to do, Stanton also started gathering quotes from people, which he would use as captions. Through utilising social media networks, and setting up a blog that he updated on a daily basis, HONY became a worldwide phenomenon. Inspiring many photographers to take to the streets, but also encouraging the general public to be more open into sharing their stories, HONY has had a greater than expected impact on people In 2013 Stanton published his first photobook, named after the project itself. In the book 400 colour-printed pictures are featured, alongside the stories of each of the people included, from public favourites from his blog, to personal favourites of the photographer himself, as well as all-new first time stories. As you flip through the pages of this multicoloured publication, surprises await to be discovered on every page. Almost certainly every reader will find at least one story, if not more, that they can relate to. Transcending racial and social barriers, Stanton’s work includes everybody who falls under the category ‘human’. Continuing his project to try and map the whole of New York City purely through portraiture photography, Brandon Stanton’s work, even though not technically or artistically challenging, is a reminder that we are all different in a unique way, and our stories are always worth sharing. Emma Charalambous
To express a deeply unpopular opinion takes a particular kind of courage. In this story, centred around the trial of Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann in 1961, Hannah Arendt (Barbara Sukowa) displays such courage. Herself a German Jew who narrowly escaped incarceration, political theorist Arendt undertakes to report on the trial for New Yorker magazine. To her surprise she discovers that Eichmann is not the Jew-hating monster that many claim, and amid the hysteria of the trial, comes to the view that he is an insubstantial bureaucrat fixated on doing his job and following orders. She also concludes that Jewish ghetto leaders were partly responsible for the many Jewish deaths at the hands of the Nazis. Neither are popular opinions, and Arendt becomes a target for New York’s liberal society, and is ostracized by many of her friends. For us though, she emerges the heroine. She has stood for the truth, played out between her critical analysis and her own emotional response, in a kind of counterpoint to Eichmann’s sense of duty over compassion. Cleverly, von Trotta weaves in original footage from the trial, allowing us to see for ourselves something of Eichmann’s character. This adds an authentic dimension which serves to validate Hannah’s opinion of the man. There is much to commend this film: the brilliant performance of Sukowa, the delightful interplay with husband Heinrich Blücher (Axel Milberg) and her circle of friends, as well as the fascinating weaving in of archive material. But above all it is Arendt herself, who helps us see that it is the willingness to understand, in the midst of prejudice and ignorance, that makes someone truly human. Neil Baird 63
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