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Verein Frauenstadtrundgang Basel

African History at the the University of Basel

Basler Afrika Bibliographien

Archives of Mission 21 (previously Basler Mission)

Centre for African Studies Basel

Previous Projects:

Posters in the struggle, 31.05-09.07.2006

Great Books on Africa, 27.03.-26.06.2007

Individual bookings can be made at any time.

-> Bookings  

Press downloads
-> Station photos (6.4 MB)
-> Pressemappe
(Adobe PDF, 27.6 MB)

Press clippings
-> DRS2 Aktuell 23.05.2008 (mp3)
-> Basler Zeitung 22.05.2008 (pdf)
-> WOZ Die Wochenzeitung 22.05.2008 (pdf)
-> Basellandschaftliche Zeitung 17.05.2008 (jpg)
-> ProgrammZeitung Mai 2008 (pdf)
-> Basler Zeitung 15.04.2008 (jpg)
-> Basellandschaftliche Zeitung 15.04.2008 (jpg)
-> ProgrammZeitung
März 2008 (pdf)

Africa in Basel - An Urban Safari

This tour was created in 2008 within the framework of a two-semester course at the  Centre for African Studies Basel and in cooperation with the Verein Frauenstadtrundgang Basel. It has since been reworked a couple of times and is offered both at regular intervals and on demand.

The city of Basel has a long tradition of diverse and captivating connections with the African continent. These century-old interweavements of political, cultural and scientific nature have influenced the development of Basel and left traces which we are keeping track of in this city tour.

Contemporary letters, photographs and posters illustrate the diverse aspects of an "African" Basel. The city safari will be guided by students of the University of Basel and can be booked in German and English.


Centre for African Studies Basel
Petersgraben 11
4051 Basel
Tel. 061 267 34 82


The students also published an attractive brochure of 32-pages (English and German) in which they present further aspects of the themes of the city tour. They have also incorporated new topics such as the slave trade, alterity or cartography and suggest literature for those who want to read on. During the guided tour the publication is sold at the price of CHF 5.-. It can be ordered from zasb(at) at the price of CHF 10.- including postage and handling, additional copies are sold at CHF 5.- each. 

African Art
If we encounter African art in the public sphere it is most often in the form of the so-called 'tribal art'. But how do perceive art from Africa? Do we make a difference between tribal art and African art? Do we ever consider where these objects are shown or how they are displayed or labelled? Und ultimately, what does African art mean to us?
The elephant sculptures at the Münster cathedral will spark off a discussion on the exotic which is an important factor in the public perception of African art. At this station we will further show examples of both traditional and contemporary African art in Basel. We will trace how African art found and still finds its way to Basel. Finally, we ask what African art means to us. With the help of the examples used we would like to stimulate a reflection process on our own images of art from Africa.
Atlantis / Jazz
Most people in Basel have visited the bar and nightclub Atlantis in the Klosterbergstrasse 23 at some point. But only few know about the exciting history of Atlantis. The club was established by the two brothers Paul and Kurt Seidler in 1947. The brothers were famous persons in Basel, especially known for their many journeys to Africa. In the 1940s they opened the Café Tropic where they exhibited the items brought home from their African adventures. It was an instant hit. People loved the exotic flair and the quirky combination of café and museum. Boosted by this success, the Seidler brothers decided to open yet another café with African influences - Atlantis was born. Going to Atlantis one could gaze at snakes, monkeys, and of course the famous crocodile. In the late 50s the club was transformed into a Jazz venue and today, more than 60 years after its opening, it is still a popular haunt in Basel.
Early Visitors
On the basis of original letters of the nineteenth-century it will be demonstrated, that the house of C.F. Spittler at Stapfelberg 3 was renowned as a centre of the African Diaspora in Basel. Here we will look at the experiences of the African visitors to Basel in the nineteenth-century. The focus will be especially on Susanna Luise Anjama Spittler (1846-1882). This woman came to Basel in 1858 and her life here contributed to the history of both the village of Riehen and the city of Basel.
Völkerschauen (Basel Zoo)
Between 1879 and 1935, the zoo in Basel did not only show exotic animals, but next to that it also showed "exotic" people. A large part of these hired people hailed from Africa, such as the "Somali-Caravan" of Hamburg animal trader Carl Hagenbeck (pictured on left). These "People Exhibitions" are one of the central topics of our guided city-tour. We approach this extraordinary form of entertainment by asking about its origins and its organisation. We will look at the appeal which these exhibitions held for the people in Basel and the reasons for the sudden disappearance of the entertainment. Travel back in time and experience the then contemporary fascination with the "alien and savage".
Throughout its existence, the apartheid regime in South Africa triggered a host of responses all over the world. The people of Basel, the council and the local economy also responded to apartheid in different ways. In this city tour we want to sensitise people about Basel and its relations to apartheid by looking at the role this city and its institutions have played in fighting for, or against apartheid. The main aim is to expose the arguments that were put forward by industrialists in Basel and the people of the city regarding their position to the apartheid government in South Africa.
African Shops
The easiest way to go to Africa in Basel is by walking into an AfroShop. They are a direct link to the "Black Continent" and one can find these shops all over the city. African Shops offer spices, vegetables, meat, fish and other special foods. They are well visited by Africans who want to enjoy their traditional food, and of course everyone else who likes to discover something new.
Internet access, public phones, hair care and cosmetic products are also part of the services offered by the AfroShops to its customers. For Africans living in Basel the shops create a unique social space where one can casually meet, exchange news about their home countries and also discuss the peculiarities of living in Switzerland.
-> Map Afro Shops in Basel (02.05.2008)
The Basel Mission, founded in 1815, became a central hub between Europe and Africa in the nineteenth-century. Hundreds of missionaries from around Europe were trained and commissioned in Basel, and many African visitors to the city came because of connections with the mission. What principles and goals motivated this mission? How did the historical movements of abolition, colonialism and pietism interact to influence the history of the Basel Mission? In this guided city-tour Africa we aim to find out exactly that.
In recent years, the Basel Mission joined with other organizations to form the evangelical mission partnership called Mission 21; together they continue to cooperate with African churches (as well as churches in other parts of the world) to work for peace, equality, and justice in the spirit of the gospel.