A discussion about South Africa, migration, our perspective on the continent and personal experiences with Dutch correspondent and documentary filmmaker, Bram Vermeulen.
By: Daaf Borren
As a journalist, interested in Africa, Bram was high, if not on the top of my list for an interview about what is possibly the most fascinating continent our planet has to offer. I have always highly admired his work as a correspondent for Dutch media, wherein he offers new insights and in-depth stories, by conducting a more thematic approach, instead of solely covering events and daily news. Further, as a documentary filmmaker he has made several series, wherein he clearly explains complex issues like migration and a significantly changing Africa. Over the years, I spoke with Bram several times about a variety of subjects, and I appreciate his open-minded approach and his ability to ease his interlocutor. A quality which can be convenient in sub-Saharan Africa, I presume.
Ever since Bram (NRC Handelsblad, NOS, VPRO) – currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa – left the Netherlands in 2001, he tries to understand and learn from different cultures and distant worlds. In order to share his experiences, he wrote the book Help ik ben blank geworden (Help, I became a white man) about his work as a correspondent in South Africa. Further, during his journeys through Africa, the Middle East and Turkey, he developed a significant interest in national borders and migration, about which he made several documentaries. His latest production De Trek, discusses the African migration flows in a four-part documentary series. By exposing the main characters in the general debate on migration – human traffickers, drowning migrants, xenophobes and deported ‘illegals’ – Bram tries to deepen the knowledge of his readers and change our perspective on African migration. His passion for these topics is inspirational and was clearly noticeable during our discussion, which intensified when we started speaking about migration flows and the European position on this matter. Our discussion: