Barbuk in Africa: the country endures – yet it can be touched

Status: 04/15/2022 03:51 AM

So far, Annalena Barbock has been seen mainly at international crisis conferences – in Africa the Secretary of State shows a different side: she also wants to get to know people.

Written by Evi Seibert, ARD Capital Studio, currently West Africa

Annalena Baerbock trains to carry water with a wooden pole over her shoulder and a bucket tied to her sides – a traditional African method of fetching water. “How do I do this right?” asks the German foreign minister. And everyone wants to help her. Big fun for the women in the small village of Ouallam in Niger, laughing their heads off. This was not what they imagined a minister to be. The accompanying journalists are filming the scene. Shortly thereafter, she is a huge hit on social networks.

As soon as she meets ordinary people, Barbock immediately turns into a practical Secretary of State—especially when she sees women and children. Upon reaching Ulam, residents line up: men on the left, women on the right. Barbock literally ignores the men and immediately walks over to the women with the kids. She asks for their names and ages, and is happy to tell them that she has daughters of hers. This breaks the ice.

By trying to carry traditional buckets of water, Baerbock was able to break the ice.

Photo: dpa

Clear contrast with diamond

Baerbock is the complete opposite of its somewhat rugged predecessor, Heiko Maas. Never in his life had he tried to use a stretcher in front of laughing African women. Barbock sees it differently: “You don’t do politics for capitals or palaces. What I understand is you do politics for people,” she explains.

Of course she can also do the figure with the mansions. In Mali the day before on this trip, she delivered a speech full of accusations against the coup government there with a stoned expression on the steps of the palace, while the Malian foreign minister on her side reacted increasingly angry – which did not stop the German from continuing. undisturbed for a quarter of an hour.

“You must try it for yourself”

But Barbock is taking up her position as Secretary of State on this visit to Africa. She wants to know how the locals live and think: “Actually, you can feel the states only when you are there, when you have the impression of normal life. And this life takes place in the fields and schools and under the trees at 50 degrees here in this region. And it must You’ve experienced for yourself what 50-degree temperatures mean.” That’s what it’s all about in the coming decades: preventing such temperatures in other parts of the world.

What the minister constantly says is a word of responsibility: “The fact that the countries of the Sahel are now being hard hit by the climate crisis is something that the industrialized countries have to bear,” she told students in the capital, Niamey. “We are getting rich, and Niger is suffering more than we are. That is why we have an obligation to help now.”

From the game of imitation to the press conference

This values-based foreign policy is a key issue for the new Secretary of State, which doesn’t stop her from being Secretary of State—literally: when Barbock meets an old African woman shortly afterward in Walma, who smiles at her toothless and shakes. Hand it to high fives and play German and Nigerian imitative games with the old lady for a few minutes – again great fun for the villagers and the FM herself.

Baerbock exchanged ideas about imitation games with a local.

Photo: dpa

But then she has to move on to the press release. There will again be a leading foreign minister in Germany explaining the links between the world’s major crises.

Minister of Touch: Barbok in Africa

Evi Seibert, ARD Berlin, Apr 15, 2022 at 1:01 am

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