Following in the footsteps of the Hamburg film director Hans Schomburgk who travelled through the German colony of Togo from Lomé to the north with his companion and actress Meg Gehrts in 1913, Jürgen Ellinghaus screens the footage shot then at its locations in modern-day Togo. Schomburgk’s affirmative images show slave labour, humiliation and the arrogance of the colonial power. The material is contrasted by Gehrts’ romanticising diary entries and other colonial reports which often testify to a horrifying coldness.
The screenings of this material, which has never been shown in Togo before, prompt the audiences to reflect on tradition, stereotypes, the “white gaze.” In the villages, the colonial images conjure up memories of handed down stories. In the metropolis of Lomé, young film enthusiasts deplore that these images were kept from them until today and discuss in which contexts they should be screened. But “Togoland Projections” not only shows how much these painful documents and texts are needed in contemporary Togo, because they are part of the country’s history. The film also demonstrates that they are needed in Germany so we can take responsibility for our suppressed history and face our own racism – past and present.