‘It’s not just about my experience and my sympathy, it is about the community who needs a voice at the local assembly, we must therefore do everything necessary to be part of the political dispensation’.

Irene was a guest on the Effiya Ephya Show in the studios of Radio TopAfric. The interview was about the upcoming European and Hamburg district elections ‘Bezirksversammlungswahl’. The elections are taking place on Sunday, 26 May 2019.

Born and bred in Hamburg-Billstedt, Irene Appiah is a mother and works with the Hamburg Ministry of Education ‘Schulbehörde’. The seasonal politician is a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and is of African heritage, born in 1976 to Ghanaian parents.

She is contesting the Hamburg-Mitte local assembly elections and is seeking the assistance and support of the community to make it.

Question: Who can vote?


Persons who are 16 years and above.

Persons who are registered in Hamburg-Mitte for at least six months. 

Persons who hold an EU and/or German passport. 

Question: Do you have what it takes to represent your people?

Yes, long before I entered into politics, I have been a community activist, representing my people, helping with complex bureaucratic issues. My background as a solicitor has been very useful. Besides it is no longer about me, but about us. We have the numbers and must therefore use it to our advantage.

If we are able to mobilise our people well, we can make it. I will then be in a better position to help create educational opportunities for children of African heritage, help establish extra classes, continue with the African Community Centre, which we have already started. Remember most of our people are facing accommodation problems; we can help address this properly.

Question: How can one vote for you?

The postal voting system ‘Brierfwahl’ is the most ideal and comfortable way of voting, all eligible voters have been sent voting documents. Those who have not received them could apply at their various district assemblies ‘Bezirksamt – Wahldienstelle’. In my case Bezirksamt Hamburg-Mitte.

The documents include two voting sheets
1. Pink sheet, you can locate my name (Irene Appiah) on position six. Please, cross all five positions in front of my name.
2. Yellow sheet, my name (Appiah Irene) is placed at position 10, cross all five boxes for me. I will appreciate it most if people could take advantage of the postal voting.

Question: What should one do on the actual poll date?

On Sunday, the polling stations are open from 8.00 am till 18.00. Eligible voters are encouraged to go and cast their votes. As stated earlier, residents of Hamburg-Mitte, which comprises of the following townships:

Billbrook, Billstedt, Borgfelde, Finkenwerder, HafenCity, Hamburg-Altstadt, Hamm, Hammerbrook, Horn, Kleiner Grasbrook, Neustadt, Neuwerk, Rothenburgsort, St. Georg, St. Pauli, Steinwerder, Veddel, Waltershof and Wilhelmsburg, can vote for me.

In addition, those in Billstedt can also use the pink sheet to vote for me.

Question: What message do you have for your people?

I have been serving and representing the interests of the African community and will continue to do so. We have the numbers; we have the people and the competence to be relevant in Germany. Let’s be politically active and participate in taking decisions that concern us. If we refuse and fail to exercise our voting rights, others will decide for us.

I am confident we won’t allow this opportunity to escape us, go and vote, and vote for me.

One can reach Irene as follows:
t: 040 246989
e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
w: www.spd-hh-mitte.de

f: Irene.appiah.5

Many new laws and legislative changes, affecting employees, the unemployed, families and retirees, came into force on 1 January 2019. The African Courier takes us through some of the most important changes that we should know.

Minimum wage rises

The statutory minimum wage (der gesetzliche Mindestlohn) rises from 8.84 euros to 9.19 euros on 1 January 2019. From 2020, employers will have to pay at least 9.35 euros per hour.

Several industry minimum wages have also risen, for example, in the roofing trade, in the electrical trade, in the building cleaning trade, and in the temporary work and care sectors.

Because a job is subject to social insurance if the earnings limit of 450 euros per month is exceeded, those who want to avoid this would have to reduce the working time accordingly.

More time for filing tax return

From 2019, taxpayers will have two months longer to submit their annual tax return (Abgabe der Steuererklärung). Those who submit their tax returns themselves have time to file their returns for 2018 until 31 July 2019. For taxpayers represented by a tax advisor, the deadline will be extended from the end of the year to the 28th of February of the following year. For example, the tax return for 2018 will then be due latest 28 February 2020.

However, whoever does not submit the tax declaration on time must automatically pay a delay fine.

Higher tax allowance

Income tax is now payable only on an income of more than 9,168 euros (steuerlicher Freibetrag) per year – that is, 168 euros more than in 2018. For jointly assessed couples, the threshold rises to 18,336 euros.

Statutory health insurance for self-employed persons cheaper

For full-time self-employed persons with low incomes, the minimum premium in the statutory health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenkasse) has now been reduced from around 360 euros to about 156 euros per month. The reason: Since 1 January 2019, the minimum assessment basis (Mindestbemessungsgrundlage) for membership in the statutory health insurance for the self-employed has been reduced to 1,038.33 euros (it was 2,284 euro in 2018).

Making calls abroad becomes cheaper

Roaming charges have been history since 2017. Now phone calls and the sending of text messages to other EU countries will become cheaper this year. From mid-May 2019, the price of international calls will be capped at 19 cents per minute. SMS will cost a maximum of six cents.


More child benefit

Child benefit (Kindergeld) will be increased from 1 July 2019. Parents will get 204 euros/per child for the first and second child; 210 euros for the third child; and 235 euros a month for each additional child.

Higher tax deduction for children

The tax exemption for dependent children (Kinderfreibetrag) has been increased, starting from January, to 2490 euros or for both parents to 4980 euros when assessed together.

Child maintenance allowance rises

The alimony payments for children of separated parents (Unterhalt für Trennungskinder) have also been increased. From 1 January 2019, the minimum maintenance allowance payable for children under the age of seven will be 354 instead of the previous 348 euros per month. Seven to twelve-year-olds now get 406 instead of 399 euros. Children from 13 to 18 are entitled to a monthly allowance of 476 euros, it was formerly 467 euros. The minimum allowance for children of full age remains unchanged.


Increase in Hartz IV benefit

The standard rates for social assistance and unemployment benefit II (Sozialhilfe und Arbeitslosengeld II) have been increased. Single parents and persons living alone will now receive 424 instead of 416 euros. If you live with another needy person in the same household, you will receive 382 euros instead of 374 euros. The standard rate for children up to five years rises to 245 euros a month, and those from six to 13 years receive 322 instead of 316 euros.

Changes in Unemployment Benefit I

Previously, jobseekers must have held a job that made contribution to the unemployment insurance scheme for 12 months within the last 24 months prior to filing their application to be qualified to draw Unemployment Benefit I (Arbeitslosengeld I). From 1 January 2019, twelve months within the last 30 months are now sufficient to qualify for the benefit

Support for the long-term unemployed

For the long-term unemployed, state-funded jobs are now possible for re-entry into working life. Employers receive money from the state for five years to pay the employee: In the first two, labour costs are paid in full, and then the subsidy goes down by ten percentage points every year. Condition for qualification for the scheme is that the long-term unemployed is older than 25 years and has received Hartz IV for at least six years within seven years.


Increase in disability pension benefit

Disability pensioners will receive significantly more benefit if they retire from 2019. The pension (Erwerbsminderungsrente) will now be calculated as if the person concerned had worked until the standard retirement age – not like until now 62 years.

Pensioners pay more tax

Anyone who retires this year has to pay more tax on their pension income. From January 2019, the taxable portion of pension (Steuerpflichtiger Teil der Rente) increases from 76 to 78 percent. Thus, only 22 percent of the first full gross annual pension remains tax-free. This percentage applies only to persons retiring as from 2019.

© The African Courier/Femi Awoniyi

A court in Germany has ruled that the parents of a 15-year-old girl cannot stop her having a sexual relationship with her 47-year-old uncle.
The girl, who has been named only as Josephine under German privacy laws, made headlines last year when she ran away with her uncle. She was 14 at the time.

When the couple were discovered in the south of France, Josephine told police she had run away voluntarily and was in love with the older man, who was her uncle by marriage. In common with several other European countries, the age of sexual consent in Germany is 14.
Josephine’s parents sought a court order to prevent her being in contact with her uncle, on the grounds that the relationship was endangering her welfare.

But the teenager successfully challenged the order. The court ruled that as she is over 14 her own wishes have to be taken into account.
In their ruling, the judges said that Josephine risked “serious damage in her social-emotional and mental development” if she was prevented from further contact with the uncle. The judges emphasised that the decision in no way amounted to an endorsement or approval of the relationship.

“The court does not offer any opinion on the non-judicial question of whether a 47-year-old married man should return the love of a 14-year-old fired by adolescent affection and enthusiasm,” they wrote. “The relationship may be socially undesirable and unacceptable, but it is not covered by criminal law, and not categorically forbidden.”

The court case was the culmination of months of strife between the girl and her parents. When they forbade her from seeing her uncle on her return from France, she left home, stopped attending school and tried to stay in a government shelter. Her parents later had her admitted to a psychiatric hospital for five months. She refused to tell her parents the whereabouts of her uncle. The 47-year-old has children of his own, and has also been a foster parent.

The age of consent varies in different European countries. While it is 16 in the UK, Spain and the Benelux countries, other countries where it is only 14 include Italy, Portugal and Austria. In France it is 15, while in Ireland it is 17. There are provisions in German law to protect abuse of a minor who is over the age of consent by a much older partner, but only where the child concerned files a complaint with police.
“Basically, the law assumes that a 15-year-old is mature enough to decide about his or her sex life,” Robert Ufer, a criminal lawyer, told Spiegel magazine.

Source: The Spiegel

Are you planning to come to Germany for a short period to visit relatives, attend a meeting or seminar, or simply for holidays? If yes, you can apply for a Schengen Tourist Visa. A Schengen Visa entitles the holder to an accumulated stay of up to 90 days within a period of 6 months for 26 European Countries.
You are advised to submit your application for a Schengen Visa to the representative of the country which is your main destination – considering length and purpose of your intended stay. In this case it is Germany.

Required Documents
Application form
• One completed visa application form (which you can download from the website of Germany Embassy in your home country)

• Passport valid for at least 90 days after expiry of requested visa
• 2 copies of pages containing personal information
• Copies of pages with recent Schengen visa(s)
• One recent biometric passport picture

Document confirming employment
• Employees: Letter of employment
• Self-employed: Company registration/letter from accountant
• Students: Proof of school/university attendance, confirming that student is exempt from attending lectures during requested travel period

Documents reflecting the nature of the trip
• Signed letter of invitation from private person + passport copy, or
• Legalised letter of invitation or concert/sport event tickets, or
• Package Tour/Cruises/Individual Trips (proof of accommodation for every day) or

Documents confirming sufficient funds are available for the trip
• Current 3 months stamped bank statement of private bank account, or
• Current 3 months stamped bank statement of business account, or
• Legalized letter of obligation + written statement explaining the relationship between the inviting party and the applicant

Flight-ticket and hotel reservation
• Flight reservation and travel itinerary
• Hotel reservation with full address for the entire time of stay in Schengen State(s)
• Signed Invitation letter from a host/company in Germany with full address

Medical insurance
• Medical insurance valid for the duration of the requested Visa
• Minimum coverage of EUR 30,000 and repatriation

For accompanying minors (younger than 18 years of age)
• Unabridged birth certificate (displaying father’s and mother’s name )
• Guardian’s declaration of consent signed by both guardians/parents
• Copy of first page of the minor’s passport

Visa Fees
The fee for a Schengen Visa is 60.00 Euro.

Where and how to apply?
After completing the application form, you have to take it to the German Embassy in your home country.

You are advised to apply for a visa at least 3 weeks before your travel date to meet any processing delays.

Important for information for applicants
• Only complete applications can be accepted; Non-submission of necessary documentation may lead to a refusal

• False or falsified documents will lead to refusal of visa and/or further consequences

• The German missions reserve the right to ask for further supporting documents/information

• Visa extensions within Germany are generally not possible

• Applicants may not apply for permanent residence in Germany while on this Visa

• The German Mission may shorten the validity of the Visa without prior consultation

• Have you already had your fingerprints taken at an earlier application for a C-Schengen visa? If so, it may not be necessary for you to apply in person. The above article has been prepared using information provided by the German Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa

Source: http://www.afronews.de/

Several years after ruling the continent, Nigeria’s Olufunke Oshonaike yesterday turned the clock back to emerge as the new African champion in the women’s single event of the 2016 ITTF Africa Senior Championships in Agadir, Morocco. As the second seeded player in the competition, Oshonaike has never beaten the young Egyptian in the last two years but the tide turned in favour of the Nigerian as the North African tasted the first defeat in the continent to surrender the title.

From the start of the encounter, Oshonaike took charge taking a 2-0 lead but the Egyptian restored parity at 2-2. Oshonaike then decided to play with a lot of caution and tactics which eventual confused her opponent who finally succumbed to the more experienced Nigeria.
To emerge as the new African Champion, Oshonaike won (7-11, 11-13, 11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 7-11).

An elated Oshonaike told SportingLife after the encounter that she never doubted her ability. “I knew it was going to be tough because being the African champion and she has been unbeaten in the last two years. I just told myself to go out there and have fun and show my experience and when it started working I gained more confidence. But when the match was 2-2 my coach, Segun Toriola told me not to give up and I kept on going and it worked for me at last. This victory means a lot to me that I can still become African champion despite my age.

“It shows that nothing is impossible regardless of age inasmuch as you put your mind at it. I am so happy despite the challenges of making it to Morocco. I feel great and I am so excited that I can still do it and this is also an inspiration for girls that no matter your age, you can achieve whatever you put your mind into in life,” she said.

The dawn that the masses hoped for and dreamed of or could be barely wait for has finally being sealed .Few weeks ago , Ghanaians went all out in one voice,heart and peace and elected the one individual who they will hand-over the mandate of being the next President of Ghana.Hence the innaugration of the next President of Ghana in the year , 2017 on the 7th January ,2017.

The Innaugration ceremony  took place yesterday ,Saturday ,7th January 2017 at Black Star Square in the great Nation Ghana after a 30- days transition period from the outgoing government to the incoming government 

The Black Star Square was beautifully decorated with tents that was built with the colours of the Ghana flag with firm security to ensure safety and order. The swearing -in ceremony was attended by over 6000 people , most in white or beautiful kente clothing, waving white handkerchiefs signifying their joy and satisfaction alongside traditional drumming ,dancing and the sound of vuvuzels.
The president Elect Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo arrived , gracefully clothed in a beautiful colourful Kente like " the coat of many colours " at the event .Not forgetting the beautiful firts lady of Ghana ,the   vice -president his excellency Mahamudu Bawumia and his beautiful wife who obviously carried the title of the day,as the "Best dressed " at the ceremony .
But can one take a minute to imagine the thoughts that went through the mind of President elect while he recited each sentence after the chief justice Georgina Theodora Wood furing the swearing in.If could look back at how the journey began forbthe president elect right from giving free legal assistance to the poor in the society to becoming a national organizer of NPP , Campaign Manager ,member of parliament, cabinet minister ,Attorney  General and minister of Justice , foreign minister , chairman of the security of justice ,Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo ,having been beaten twice for this same title he was about to be sworn in after 8years of long wait, was indeed inspiring .
The historical swearing -in ceremony which was led by Chief Justice of Ghana, Madam Georgina Theodora Wood, President Elect of Ghana took the oath of the office of presidency repeating gorgeously after the Chief Justice.The first sentence by the then Preident elect was followed by an applaud from the faithful civillians that gathered regardless of signs of cough and katarrh while he spoke .
After the swearing ,His Excellency , President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo waved at the people before proceeding to hold the stuff which signifies the authority and mandate that Ghanaians have entrusted into his hands .
For the first time in 2017 ,the National Anthem was played at exactly 11:11am on the first saturday of the year dated 7th January ,2017, sounding the beginning of the dawn of the new era.Change has indeed come .
It is therefore official , that His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo is from henceforth the head of state and government  of the Republic of Ghana as well as commander in Chief of Ghana Armed Forces .
Unlike any other ceremony the presence of dignitaries including Parlimentarians ,cabinet ministers,Associated Justices , officials of Government and over 16 Ghanaian heads of State and former heads of state and government in the persons of Former Vice President  Paa Kwesi Anissa Attah , Former Secretary General of the UN ,Mr Kofi Annan , Former President Jerry John Rawlings and his wife Nana Akonadu Agyemang Rawlings ,Former President John Agyekum Kuffour and  few other African heads of state namely ; 
President of Côte d'Ivoire, His Excellency Alassane Quattera (Guest of Honor)
President of  Equitorial Guinea,His Excellency Teodiro Obiang Nguema
President of Algeria,His Excellency  Abdelaziz Bouteflika
President of Egypt,His Excellency Abdul Fattah el-Sisi
Sierra Leonian President ,His Excellency  Ernest Ellen Koroma 
Ethiopian President, His Excellency  Mulatu Teshome 
President of Chad,His Excellency Idriss Déby
Liberia's President,Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf 
President of the Central African Republic,His Excellency Faustin Theodora 
President of Burkina Faso,His Excellency  Mark Christine Gabore 
Vice Presidrnt of the Islamic Republic of Iran,His Excellency Mohammed Madora
There was a speech delivery by the special guest of Honor,His Excellency Alassane Quattara, President of Côte d'Ivoire and the President  of Liberia , Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who is the chairperson of Ecowas.She delivered a good-will message on behalf ECOWAS, which congratulated Ghanaians for allowing peaceful to reign and coming together as one after the elections .She also congratulated the Mahama administration for a good job done and encouraged the the President of Ghana ,His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo -Addo on the responsibility that lies ahead of  him and his administartion ,hoping for a cordial relationship between Ghana and  the ECOWAS.
The most epic moment was the speech delivered by Ghana's 5th President of the 4th republic which captured a biblical quote in Galatians 6:9 and made the following mind liberating statement that should be every Ghanaian citizen's principle of life which says " LET US WORK TILL THE WORK IS DONE".
Ghana has a new President and a new direction .You and i can only wish the President of Ghana , His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo - Addo and his administration a productive first four-year term and contribute our quota to help him fulfil his promises of hope and change.

Germany's famous port city has a wealth of impressive sights, districts and landmarks, here are eight that you won't want to miss while on a trip there.
1. Fischmarkt - fish market
While it might not be at the top of anyone's 'romantic weekend away in Hamburg' list, this 100-year old fish auction hall has its own charm, and is more authentic to the city than sights like Hamburg Dungeon.

Never mind wurst, grab a tasty Fischbrötchen (fish roll) while appreciating the fish market's impressive interior and the sweet salty smell of the fresh catch of the day being brought in. For fishophiles, fans of seafood and seagulls everywhere, you'll have to get down early, it's open every Sunday but only from 5am till 9.30am.

2. Poggenmühlenbrücke - Poggenmühlen bridge
Poggenmühlen bridge is located in Hamburg's Speicherstadt, or city of warehouses, and offers the best view of these warehouses on the waterfront. It gives you a chance to delve a little deeper into the labyrinthine workings of the world's largest contiguous warehouse complex, away from the crowds of tourists.

Originally built between 1885 and 1927 - and partially rebuilt after the Second World War - this warehouse district sits on what were originally a group of narrow islands in the Elbe. They are part of the city's rich maritime history, as Hamburg is historically one of Europe's most important ports. These UNESCO World Heritage warehouses were given historic monument protection in 1991.

3. Old Elbe Tunnel
The Old Elbe Tunnel is another of Hamburg's century old attractions and has been a protected monument since 2003.

You can choose to walk, or take the lift, down 24 meters to the tunnel entrance. When you walk the 426.5 meters of tiled tunnel, see if you can spot the strange depiction of four rats and a boot among the more predictable murals of marine life that adorn the walls.

When it first opened in 1911, this was the first river tunnel on the continent, created to improve transport links between the northern and southern sides of the Elbe as the city's port expanded.

4. Steinwerder Aussichtspunkt - Steinwerder lookout point
If you're a fan of innovative architecture, the best place to admire the newest addition to the Hamburg skyline - the Elbphilarmonie or Elbe Philarmonic Hall - is at the lookout point on Steinwerder.

In order to get there, you'll have to go through the Old Elbe Tunnel.

Hamburg's answer to the Sydney Opera House is named after the river Elbe, which runs through the city on its way to the North Sea.

The Concert Hall was due to open back in 2010, but due to delays eager classical music enthusiasts had to wait until this November for a public preview, while inaugural concerts will be held in January 2017.

It's six years late and more than ten times over the original price estimate of €77 million - but better late than never. So if you're in Hamburg and a budding Brahms and Mendelssohn aficionado – both of whom were born in the city – then add a concert experience to your trip.

5. Miniatur Wunderland - miniature wonderland
This is another Hamburg sight that can claim to be the biggest in the world, and ironically it's to do with things in miniature. Did someone say the world's largest model railway? That's right. This one is for the child inside you or the strange man child beside you.

Located inside the Speicherstadt, this miniature wonderland took 230 employees 580,000 hours to painstakingly construct. There are 930 trains, 228,000 trees, 215,000 figures, 8,850 cars, 13,000 meters of track and 3,660 buildings depicting both the city it is housed in, alongside the USA, Scandinavia and more.

But it's not all child friendly, some twisted employees have hidden miniature dirty jokes here and there. See if you can spot several small pairs of lovers dotted around this seemingly utopian wonderland. The clues are: flower fields, behind a tree, an office and in a barn. Just don't tell the kids about your smutty Where's Waldo? adventure.

6. The Indra Club
The Beatles played at clubs along Hamburg's notorious Reeperbahn strip in the early 1960s prior to their worldwide fame, including a first residency at The Indra Club, which is still there today on Große Freiheit, a street that intersects the strip.
Once you're done looking at Beatles memorabilia you can walk on over to the bright lights of the Reeperbahn, where Hamburg's red light district can be found.

The actor and singer Hans Albers, one of Hamburg's most famous sons, starred in a film 'On the Reeperbahn at half past midnight' about its vices as far back as the 1950s.

The 930m street in the St. Pauli district is still Hamburg's number one spot for entertainment and seedy old men. It's only got more glamorous with age.

While you're in the area, does your spinster aunt need a vibrator this Christmas? Then why not head down to the Santa Pauli Christmas market while you still can, where you have a host of sex-related products and unusual festive gifts to choose from.

7. Beim Grünen Jäger
St. Pauli isn't just about brothels and vibrators. Walk away from the Reeperbahn and you'll get to Beim Grünen Jäger, a street near Feldstrasse U-Bahn station. It's full of cafes, restaurants and bars, and a welcome respite from the glowing neon lights of strip clubs.

You don't even have to splash out for alcohol in a bar. Why not go into a nearby shop, buy a bottle of beer and relax on the street with your friends?

For football fans, the cult football club FC St. Pauli also play their home games nearby at the Millerntorstadion. The club are known for their skull and crossbones symbol and alternative, left-wing fan culture, which emerged in the 1980s as a reaction to hooliganism, fascism and right-wing nationalism in the game.

So if you're not a nationalist hooligan a stadium tour might be just the thing for you.

8. Alma-Wartenberg-Platz
Alma-Wartenberg-Platz is a hidden gem in the Altona district of Hamburg, where you can forget the sorrows of a hazy night on the Reeperbahn at one of the bars that line this attractive square.

Altona is a large area to the west of St. Pauli, which has gained a reputation for being one of Hamburg's coolest Kiezs (districts).

Hamburg's fish market is located in the south-east corner of Altona, so if you walk north towards Alma-Wartenberg-Platz from there you'll also get to see Altona's grandiose city hall on the way, along with its theatre, museum and the Platz der Republik. And because these are located on a hill, you'll also get the best view of Harbour Cranes in action across the Elbe.

Source: https://www.thelocal.de/

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