The German cultural centre in Nigeria welcomes new director

For artists and art enthusiasts in Lagos, there has been a new development on the scene.

Goethe-Institut Lagos, the German cultural centre in Nigeria, welcomes a new director, Friederike Möschel, to its Lagos City Hall offices.

Ms Möschel, who should have arrived last year, replaces Marc-André Schmachtel, whose term spanned five years (November 2010 –June 2016).

Thanks to Alfons Hug, who occupied the director’s seat forthe one-year interval between her arrival and Schmachtel’s departure. Hug, a curator and critic, occupied this same position three decades ago.

Born in Munich, Möschel grew up in Hamburg, Bonn and the city of her birth. She completed studies in German and English Literature in Bonn, Heidelberg and Köln and taught at the German Embassy School in Beijing, China for two years. Thereafter, she worked for four years in the education sector in Hamburg before joining the Goethe-Institut.

The new director comes to Lagos after a five-year term at the Institute’s Dubai office in the UAE, which she was instrumental in founding; another two and a half years as director of the language department at the Goethe-Institut Tashkent/Uzbekistan, and a two-and-a-half year stint in Kiev/Ukraine, where she was in charge of the regional co-ordination of the Eastern Partnership fund, and the implementation of cultural projects in Ukraine.

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Taken together, Ms Möschel has now been with the Institute for a decade. “It’ll be quite different from my previous experiences,” the director said about her new office, “but I’m looking forward to an exciting term.”

Since 1962, the Goethe-Institut in Nigeria has been a hub of cultural and artistic activities, and for Möschel, who is just shy of a full month in Lagos, a seamless transition is necessary.

Ms Möschel is familiar with Nigerian culture products: the country’s literature, in particular. “Nigerian Literature is big out there,” she said, adding that she reads Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Chinua Achebe, Helon Habila, Lola Shoneyin and other Nigerian writers. “It would be ridiculous to say one wants to improve on Nigerian Literature. But there are always openings for grassroots development. I’d like to work with as many local art institutions and corporations as possible at the grassroots level.”

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As regards getting used to the Nigerian culture, Möschel might have to get familiar with Nollywood and other aspects of the local culture. There is one item she has formed an impression of which is the food. When asked what she thinks of Nigerian food, Ms Möschel said, “Jollof Rice—spicy! And I love spice.”

“My focus is to pick-up from where my predecessors left off,” she said, “and – in a more diverse and impacting way – tap into the confidence, determination and drive of the younger generation of Nigerian artists.”

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