“Brown Goods” is a widely used colloquial term for electronic consumables. This play on words offers insight into the film’s themes of race and value. Emeka is a Nigerian migrant who arrived in Hamburg 7 years ago, via Libya and Lampedusa.
His humanitarian status means he can’t officially work in Germany so he trades secondhand electrical goods on Hamburg’s infamous “Billstrasse” – a street notorious for enabling undocumented West Africans to make a living through this trade.
Some of these economic migrants have weathered the seas, travelling precariously across the Atlantic by boat, eventually ending up in the free and Hanseatic state of Hamburg – its historical harbour regarded as a gateway to the global world of trade.
Yet importation and exportation in this case not only relates to the trading of goods but also the free movement of people and the value of migrants like Emeka in a European context.
Paradoxically, the search for a better life in Europe depends on African money. It is the hand that feeds him. West African exporters come all the way to Hamburg to transport goods such as cars and fridges to Africa, aided by the labour of migrant workers like Emeka.
Despite his humanitarian status, it’s important for Emeka that he’s self sufficient and adds value to the European economy he profits from.
Director: Karimah Ashadu
Location manager: Karimah Ashadu
Editor: Karimah Ashadu
Camera: Sebastian Bock
Sound mixer: Karimah Ashadu
Duration: 12:00 mins
HD Digital film, colour with sound
With thanks to MOIN Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein