Thursday, April 30, 2009

Car slams into crowd on Queen's Day in The Netherlands


A Dutch driver ploughed into a crowd on 'Queen's Day'. On the Dutch evening news one of the first things the reporter said was: "it's an 'autochtoon' (white dutch)." Unfortunately it's the first thing the public wants to know after the killing of Dutch filmer Theo van Gogh by a Moroccan man, because of the film Van Gogh made with Islam criticaster Hirsi Ali. A non white Dutch is called an ‘allochtoon’ in the Netherlands.

But of course the important thing and sad part is that 5 people have been killed and many people have been injured.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Africa Film Festival 2009 Gent, Belgium


The Afrika Filmfestival (AFF), AfricaMatters and the cinema StudioSkoop in Ghent collaborate to bring you the second edition of the 'Afrika Filmfestival' to Gent.

During the festival all screenings are in the Kinepolis Theater in Leuven/Louvain.
Furthermore screenings are repeated in cinemas in Brussels and other small towns throughout Northern Belgium.

This year screenings will also take place at the Studio Skoop in Ghent (Sint-Annaplein 63, 9000 Gent) on Thursday 7, Friday 8 and Saturday 9 May 2009.

The festival in Ghent starts with the South African film 'Skin', directed by Anthony Fabian (2008). For more information about the program go to www.afrikafilmfestival.be

The Afrika Filmfestival is the perfect opportunity in Belgium to discover the African cinematographic art. Every year they try to bring you an exclusive selection of films from different African countries and cultures. This year films from South Africa, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Tunisia are on the program.

For more information go to www.africamatters.be or www.afrikafilmfestival.be

Monday, April 27, 2009

Again Africa show in German zoo


On May 20th an Africa day is planned in the German Zoo Krefeld. It's the second after the controversial zoo event in 2005. On the zoo’s website an African is portrayed next to a rhinoceros. The byline states, “Africa is guest in the Krefeld zoo. Our rhinoceros Thabo will become one year old in May. For his birthday some attractions awaits visitors.”

In 2005 The African Village festival in the Augsburg zoo sparked a protest by Anti-discrimination groups across Germany and across the world. The festival was seen as blatant racism and appalling cultural insensitivity, because grass huts and "African" culture where nestled between the monkey cage and the Savannah exhibit. African culture was exhibited between animals. But in spite of the protest the festival wasn't cancelled.

Now four years later the Krefeld Zoo is planning a similar event for the birthday of an African Rhinoceros. On the program. Information about the Rhinoceros, an African drum class by a Ghanaian music school, and a presentation of projects for children in Uganda and South Africa. But also the Gorilla Rainforest direct Aid and friends of Krefeld "A garden for Gorilla's” will have a stand at the event.

The Augsburg zoo event in 2005 reminded many of Germanys past. Many where reminded of 19th century exhibits of Africans in Europe's zoos and circuses. The problem, as most critics pointed out, was not that Augsburg was hosting an African cultural festival. Rather, its location inside a zoo, they said, recalls Germany's and Europe's colonialist past - and the not uncommon practice in the 19th and early 20th centuries of exhibiting African natives in zoos or circuses. Furthermore, such a setting encourages visitors to see Africans as a display and emphasizes their "otherness."

It’s sad to see in that in 2009 some German and African-German organisations haven’t learned from protests in 2005. Even the international discussions sparked by the election of an African-American President in US were no reason for the organisations to look for other ways to promote African culture.

By also connecting projects for children in Africa to the birthday of an animal, it seems that change has not come to Germany.

For more blog information:

Menschen Zoo Krefeld - Wieder ein “Afrika Tag” in einem deutschen Zoo!!!

French exhibit Kréyol Factory Saison Créole 2009


The Parc de la Villete in Paris is the site for Kréyol Factory, an art exhibit that ponders what it means to be Creole in the 21st century. The exhibit, which opened on april 7th, will close on July 5th. It includes works by over sixty artists from the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, and from their European and American diasporas. It is inspired by the work of Jamaican-born cultural theorist and sociologist Stuart Hall, especially his notion of the « three presences »–African, European, and New World-that constitute African-Caribbean identity. It sees Creole identity as stemming from the tragedy of the slave trade, slavery, and colonization-and from the cultural and racial métissage that grew out of it. «Creole worlds were born of violence and plunder, of the disappearance of some-the Amerindians-and of the forced coming together of peoples who had ben separated by an ocean, » Yolande Bacot, curator of the exhibit, explains. The works on view include art installations, paintings, literary texts, photographs, and documentary films.
For more information on the exhibit go to:
Kreyol factory
Parc de la Vilette
Pictures of the opening

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Black people in contemporary Belgium




Belgium hosts the capital of the EU and is a small country right in between the Netherlands, France, the UK and Germany. The Netherlands, France and the UK have large black communities. There is a small but vibrant Afro German community. So what about black people in Belgium?

Although many black people live in Belgium, very little is known of Afro Belgian communities. The reason is that Belgium is a multicultural and multilingual country from its off set in 1830. The only 3 Belgian things about Belgium are its politically confused and chaotic capital (Brussels), its football team and its royalty. The people of this country are either Flemish or Francophone. The black communities too.

The Flemish people speak Dutch and the Francophone speak French. Therefore we can’t talk about the Afro Belgian communities. Belgium consists of two main ‘nations’ (or ‘tribes’ if you prefer), geographically divided and with each their own black communities: the Afro Flemish and the francophone Afro Belgian.


Brussels, Flanders & Wallonia

The flag of the Bilingual Brussels Regional Authority

The capital Brussels is a special case. The city is right on the geographical divide between Francophone Belgium and Flanders. While over half of its population is of foreign origin, the city is officially bilingual French/Dutch and all its street signs are in both languages (10% of all Belgians live in the capital). To find a job in Brussels being bilingual is an advantage, but in reality French is the predominant communication language. Dutch is important as an official language for the city administration, but only around 20% of the city population is really bilingual Dutch-French. Brussels has large minorities of North-Africans (predominantly Moroccan), Congolese, Rwandans, Burundians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians, Turkish, Greeks, Poles and many more. The overall majority of these people speak fluently French next to their mother tongues.

Except for the Turkish neighborhood, there are no mono-cultural ghetto’s. More and more Belgian youth have a very mixed ancestry, whatever the language they choose to speak most commonly. However, Brussels is a Francophone city experiencing most cultural and social influence from France. French speaking Belgium tends to refer to itself more as ‘Belgian’, than Flemish/Dutch-speakers do.



Besides the capital, Belgium consists of 3 other linguistic areas (see map). The north is the Flanders and is officially Dutch speaking (Blue, 58% of all Belgians live in this area). The south is Wallonia and is officially French speaking (Green, 32% of all Belgians live in this area). Some rural eastern parts of Wallonia have German speaking populations who have their own political representation (Purple and dark green parts on the map). Some towns around Brussels and on the linguistic borders have special status as bilingual entities.

Immigrant populations in Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia either have the Flemish-Dutch or the Belgian-French culture and language to refer to. The media of both language groups is totally divided. The school system and social-cultural policies are managed by two independent governments within the state of Belgium. Therefore Belgium, as a socio-cultural reality, doesn’t exist. It’s either Flemish or Francophone-Belgian. Immigrant populations and their children have to choose sides.

Afro Flemish

The Flemish Flag

Most Africans who migrated to Belgium during the last decades came from the former Belgian colonies in Africa (Congo/Zaire, Rwanda or Burundi). For linguistic reasons most of them decided to settle in the French speaking parts of Belgium. The Belgian colonial authority had been a Francophone one. French was still the most important language in their countries of origin.

During colonization Belgium was a Francophone country. Flemish culture and language was considered as lower and insignificant. It took until the 60’s before the Flemish Dutch-speaking population felt respected and accepted in Belgium, as citizens with the same rights as the Francophone. Not only the capital and Wallonia were/are Francophone. The whole Flemish upper class bourgeoisie was Francophone too, and still is in virtually all Flemish towns. Not speaking French in Belgium before the 60’s was considered being illiterate and uncultivated. Things changed much since.

The first Africans settling in the Flanders came from Congo and Rwanda-Burundi during the late 50’s and early 60’s. Due to chaotic situations in their home country, and thanks to relations in Belgium they often came as young children and were adopted within Flemish families.

The first African families to migrate to Flanders arrived in the early eighties, and even more in the nineties. Still, today African communities in Flanders are very small, divided and scattered all over the region. The highest concentration will be found in the city of Antwerp. However, the first adult Afro Flemings, who may be born and grew up in the Flanders, are now expressing themselves through different organizations. They want to be accepted as citizens of the Flemish region.

kifkif.be

afrikaansplatform.be

minderhedenforum.be

Some found their way to the media, others into music and sports, some became intellectuals. Below I will give you a list of the best known Afro Flemings or Dutch speaking Afro Belgians in Belgian media.

Ya Kid K. She was part of Technotronic and she wrote and sang the international mega hit ‘Pump up the Jam’. The girl appearing in the video is a lip-sync-model, not her. The video of ‘Get up’ is her first public appearance. Born in Congo (1972), raised from age 11 in Flanders. She’s Leki’s older sister.

Tatiana Silva. She was Miss Belgium 2005. It is also hardly correct to say whether she’s Flemish. She would define herself as ‘Belgian of Cape-Verdean origin’. She is perfectly bilingual and born (1985) and bred in Brussels. She released a song in English, the video was shot in Ghent (Flanders).

Eric Baranyanka. TV-presentator on the children channel Ketnet and front singer of the ‘Ketnet Band’. He was born (1959) in Burundi and moved to Belgium as a 3 year old child, he grew up in the Flanders.

Maya Albert. Her grandfather was Rwandan. She is a theater actrice and was born (1975) and bred in Flanders. She is most famous for a role in Thuis (Home) from 2003 till 2008. A very popular Flemish soap serie. She played the role of Aïsha, a Morrocan teenager.

Uwamungu Cornelis. A Flemish standup comedian of Rwandan origin. Born (1981) and bred in Belgium.

Elodie Ouedraogo. She's a Flemish athlete, having won silver on the 2008 Peking Olympics with the 4 X 100m relay race (in a team with Kim Gevaert) and she won a bronze medal at the wolrd championships in Osaka 2007. These are just some of the few medals won by the Belgian Olympic Team. She is bron in Brussels and is originally from Burkina Faso.

Ronny Mosuse. Popular singer song writer and free lance actor. Born (1971) and bred in Belgium. He’s father was Congolese. Ronny Mosuse was part of the band The Radios with which he had the global hit song ‘She Goes Na Na’. He’s the bass player in The Clement Peerens Explosition a popular Flemish rock act. He sometimes appears in the comic Flemish show, In de Gloria.

Sandrine Van Handenhoven. R&B singer. She was in the finale of the Flemish Idol (2004). She released an album in 2008 and appears on different TV-shows. Born (1984) en bred in Flanders.

Kimberley Gibbs. I don’t know much about her but she’s a young rising star in the world wide R&B network. She actually grew up in Maasmechelen, Belgium. As far as I know she has roots in Curaçao. But she definitely grew up in Flanders and made her debut there.

Kay Styles. A Flemish hip hop and R&B star. He was born in 1981 in Ghana and moved to Belgium with his mother at age 5. He grew up in Leuven. Real name: Kwasi Kyasi

Leki. Real name: Karoline Kamosi. Rapper and R&B singer. VJ on TMF, the Flemish music channel, where she hosts the hip hop/R&B show Cool Sweat. Born in Congo (1978), grew up in Flanders. She’s Ya Kid K’s younger sister.

Jean-Bosco Safari. Aka Kid Safari, real name: Jean Vijdt. Singer song writer born in Rwanda (1954), raised in Flanders

Afro Flemish ‘Intelectuals’ in the media

There are very few politicians of African descent in Flanders. Most politicians of foreign origin are either of Moroccan or Turkish ancestry. There are two local black politicians I know of

Marie-Cecile Ngamp, SLP (Social Liberal Party), Brussels, chairwoman of the Afro Flemish Center (Afro Vlaams Centrum)

Wouter Van Bellingen, SLP, member of the local government in the town of Sint-Niklaas. Became famous in a rather strange way. He is the local officer who inaugurates marriages in his town. Some racist couples refused their marriage to be inaugurated by a black person. This got into the media and became a big hype. The media discovered a soft spoken well educated black man who handled the situation with humor and diplomacy. He defied all stereotypes.
Other intellectuals:

Ngo Kabuta, professor at the university of Ghent. Teaches KiSwahili and TshiLuba. Not really famous but sometimes invited on TV as a representative guest of the Afro Flemish community.

Gilbert Nyatanyi, was born in Rwanda, came as a small child to Belgium. Grew up in West-Flanders. Studied law and worked as a lawyer. He became famous as Gilberke ‘the black reporter who speaks West-Flemish dialect’. He interviewed some sports men and women while speaking West-Flemish dialect, which was perceived as hilarious for the Flemish audience. He made some more TV appearances as Gilberke in very popular Flemish shows such as ‘In de Gloria’ and ‘Alles kan beter’. He released a book in 2007, ‘Symfonie van zwart in wit. Zwarte Afrikanen in België’ (‘Symphony in Black and White. Black Africans in Belgium’). He recently moved ‘back’ to Africa, working for an international law firm in Tanzania.

Chika Unigwe. She was born and raised in Nigeria. She did a bachelor in Nigeria but did her Master’s degree at the University of Leuven and completed a PhD at the University of Leiden, in The Netherlands. She became famous after releasing her first novel, De Feniks (The Phoenix), in 2007. She was the first Belgian person of African descent releasing a book in Dutch. This is strange, because Chika wrote the book originally in English and translated it afterwards. She received quite some media attention though. She is married with a Belgian and has 4 children. She currently lives in a small town in northern Belgium. http://journal.afroeuropa.eu/index.php/afroeuropa/article/view/76/70

Zana Etambala. Professor of history at the Catholic University of Leuven, he teaches colonial history (1500-1960) and has been invited several times on TV to give his opinion about Congolese matters and Belgo-Congolese relations. He was born in Congo but came as a young child to Belgium and was adopted in a Flemish family.

French speaking Afro Belgians
Flag of Wallonia and the Francophone community of Belgium

Most Africans who migrated to Belgium after World War II came from francophone Africa. Therefore they chose to settle in the French speaking parts of Belgium. Consequently there are more black people living in Brussels and Wallonia than in the Flanders (i.e. the northern part of Belgium).

Most Belgians of African origin live in towns and cities. The biggest concentration can be found in Brussels which has a commercial and cultural black African neighborhood. This neighborhood has not to be mistaken for a ghetto. Although many Africans live there, they do not form a majority. The area is famous for shops selling African products. From vegetables to cosmetics. There are also many African barber shops and hairdressers, and several African cafés and pubs. This commercial area is called Matongé and has the same name as a vibrant neighborhood in Kinshasa, capital of Congo (ex-Zaire).

However, nowadays you can find African shops and hair dressers in every town in Belgium. Although most Afro Belgians can trace their ancestry back to Congo, Rwanda or Burundi, many other francophone Africans (from Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Cameroon, …) live in Brussels and other cities in Belgium. Many of these francophone Afro Belgians were born and raised in Belgium.

Although Morocco is technically speaking in Africa, black Belgians and Moroccan Belgians do not consider themselves to be part of the same ‘African community’. Moroccan Belgians see themselves as part of the Muslim and Arab world, even when they are ethnically Berbers. That is why I will not include Belgians of Moroccan descent in my list of famous francophone Afro Belgians below.

Just as most people of African descent in the whole world, Afro Belgians seem to be very well represented in the entertainment business. Note that the cultural world of the French speaking world is concentrated around France. A lot of francophone Belgians move to France to make it. France tends to consider ‘French’ any successful French speaking artist; whether Belgian, Swiss, Canadian, or any other. For football players I refer further down to my post about Afro Belgian Football Players. The list below is focused on the most important Afro Belgians who made it in the media: musicians, actors and other TV people, besides 2 politicians.

Viktor Lazlo. (real name Sonia Dronier) Difficult to say whether she is Belgian. She was born in Bretagne, France (1960) from Caribbean parents (Martinique-Grenada) but became the first black TV personality in Belgium. She presented the Eurosong Festival when organized in Belgium in 1987. Besides that she was a singer and had some French and English hits.

Marie Daulne. World famous with her musical project Zap Mama. Recorded several albums, collaborated with US artists Common and The Roots among others. She is a much loved artist in Belgium. She was born in Congo, and raised in Belgium by her Congolese mother (her Belgian father was killed in the first year after her birth).

Baloji. Born in 1978 in Lubumbashi, Southern Congo, he came with his father to Belgium as a 3 year old. He leaves home at the age of 16 and starts to rap in the group Malfrats Linguistiques, later Starflam. This group releases some albums and has a considerable success in Belgium and France. In 2004 he leaves the group. Last year he released his first solo album, Hotel Impala. This album is full of references to the relations between Congo and Belgium, his life story and personal quest for identity.

Soul ID. This is the name of a band, better known abroad than in Belgium. Three Belgian singers of Congolese and Rwandan origin sing together with a band of mostly Dutch musicians. This is neo soul, they call themselves Afropeans!

Dieudonné Kabongo. Actor, standup comedian, musician. He was born in Congo (1950) moved to Belgium as a young man. He became Belgian in 1970. He lives in Brussels. He became famous after winning the Festival du Rire de Rochefort in 1984. He tours the whole French speaking world with his hilarious one man shows where he confronts stereotypes of colonization, whites and blacks.

Stromae (Paul Van Haver). Hip Hop producer, singer songwriter, rapper. He's of Belgian-Rwandese descent but was born and raised in Belgium. He produced several tracks for french hip hop icon Kery James before breaking through with world wide hit "Alors On Danse" (2009).

Olivier Mukuna. Journalist and reporter. He has Congolese roots and writes polemic articles. He got the media attention with his book Egalité Zéro in which he asks direct questions concerning the case of Afro French humorist Dieudonné (has been condemned for anti-Semitism due to a sketch) and racism within French media.

Afro Belgian Politicians
Gisèle Mandaila. Born in Congo (1970). Moved to Belgium with her parents as a 11 year old. Grew up in Brussels. Studied at the Brussels University and is a politician on the local Brussels regional level in which she represents the FDF (Front Démocratique Francophone), a center right party. She’s considered by the French speaking media as a representative of the Congolese community in Brussels.

Bertin Mampaka. He was the first black person to be elected to the Brussels-City council. Today he’s member of parliament for the Brussels Region, and member of the local Brussels-City government. Born in Congo (1957), educated in Belgium. Lives and works in Brussels. One of the leading people of the CDH party, a francophone center party (was of Christian signature but has now adopted the label ‘humanist’).


Afro Belgian Football Players

Just as in all European countries, blacks or very well represented in the world of sports.

I will list you the best Afro Belgian football players of the moment. I will not make a distinction between Dutch-speaking or French-speaking blacks. Football is beyond cultural difference and language. Football players have international careers, use different languages, also within Belgium. The Belgian Football League is one of the last Belgian institutions standing.

Although Belgium exports many great international professional players who have good reputation abroad, the Belgian national team seems to lose every international competition. Most Afro Belgian football players now play in teams abroad.

Many players in Belgian teams are Africans (by nationality of their home country). I will not include them in this list. This list includes all Belgian professional players of African origin, whether they speak Dutch or French. These are the black players that can be listed for the national team.

Romelu Lukaku (1993) is just 16 years old, 1m92 tall, and plays already among the adults of RSC Anderlecht. He is a prodigy loved by the media and football fans alike. Although he's very young he is very down to earth and knows he still has to learn a lot. He plays a beautiful game! This is someone to keep an eye on. Romelu's parents are both of Congolese origin. He was born and raised in Northern Belgium and speaks Dutch.

Vincent Kompany (1986). Twice winner of the Ebony Shoe (a title given every year to the best black player of the Belgian Football League, Africans and Belgians of African origin) in 2004 and 2005. He won the Golden Shoe (Best player of the year in the BFL) in 2005. He currently plays for Manchester City. He grew up in Brussels and has a bilingual (French-Dutch) background.

Emile Mpenza (1978). Born and bred in Belgium, he’s a of Congolese origin. He recently moved from Manchester City to Plymouth Argyle. He has a French speaking background.

Axel Witsel (1989). Born and bred in Belgium. His father is from Martinique. He plays for Standard de Liège, one of the best teams in Belgium. Won the Golden Shoe 2008. He has a French speaking background.

Igor De Camargo is a Afro Brazilian who recently received the Belgian natianality and already played in the national league. Currently top player for Standard de Liège.

Gaby Mudingayi (1981). Norn in Congo, raised in Belgium. Is currently playing for FC Bologna in Italy.

Landry Mulemo (1986). Born in Congo, raised in Belgium. Has a Francophone background and plays for the Belgian top club Standard Liège.

Christian Benteke (1991). Also payer at Standard Liège. Born in Congo and raised in Belgium.

Faris Haroun (1986). Born and bred in Belgium. His father is originally from Chad. He plays with Germinal Beerschot.

Gunther Van Handenhoven (1978). Sandrine’s (R&B singer) brother. Born in Belgium, plays for KSV Roeselaere, married to Miss Belgium 2002. He has a Dutch speaking background.

Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe. Bron in Ghent. started his professional career at AA Ghent. Plays now for Club Bruges. His father is originally from Ghana.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Black German youth theatre - Real life Deutschland



Afro-German teenagers describe their lives in everyday Germany. In the theatre play  'Real Life: Deutschland, young boys and girls give their views on everyday situations which you can experience as member of a minority in Germany. The play Real life Deutschland will shock and impress at the same time.

All stories that appear in the play are for the most part true. In each played scene there is a deeper meaning. It's a way of showing that people with same everyday problems are not alone.

In the video trailer a few interviews are shown where the teenagers describe some of their experiences. A short translation of the dialogs.

Boy 1 : A group of people in the age of 16 to 18 came to me and said, what are you doing here negro, go home, go back where you came from negro.

Director: Stay close together

Girl 1 : I heard the N-word and so on. It went so far that my parents didn’t believe it actually happened. I think these are worst things that happened.

Girl 2 : I don't know how to defend myself anymore. I don't no what to say anymore.

Girl 3: I want to play in theatre, but I am not good in acting. But I love it.

Boy and girl: what is a 'negerkind' (negro child)?

Director: You don't know the meaning of the term negro child, you really have no idea.

Boy (white Bandana). For two three years I didn't want to have anyting do with white people. All of them hurt me.

Scene with boy and girl:
Girl:How come you speak German? That's what find so interesting. Where do come from?
boy: Germany,
Girl: No your home country
Boy: Germany
Girl: No your real home country
Boy:Also Germany
Girl: where are your parents from?

Boy: At some point you have nothing to say anymore.

Girl: I am really anxious what kind of  'play' it will become. Because we don’t have ‘a play’ yet. We have ideas, but not a play.

The theatre play 'real life: Deutschland' has emerged from the Empowerment-Theaterprojekt “YoungStar Theater - Schwarze Jugendliche im Mittelpunkt” (black youngsters on the center stage)

YoungStar Theater

Friday, April 24, 2009

Are black people 'green'?


Being environmental conscious is not a black thing. At least from my narrow minded point of view. But things are changing, black people are getting more involved in the environmental movement. And there's more. It's a trend! Black is the new green. The American environmental elite is an increasingly racially diverse place.
On CNN's Blogger Bunch UK journalist Lola Adesioye was one the bloggers discussing whether Earth Day still matters during a recession.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sara Tavares's European tour

Portuguese singer Sara Tavares tours Europe from April 24th till september 24th 2009. The tour starts in London and ends in Leipzig Germany.

In her home country Portugal, Sara Tavares (1978) is seen as one of the best singers. She sang Portugal to the eighth place in the Eurovision Song Contest 1994, and her album Mi Ma Bo won gold. As a child of Cape Verdian immigrants Sara Tavares grew up in Lisbon.

Both cultures have influenced her music, she mixes Cape Verdean rhythms and melodies and Portuguese fado with a western pop flavour. She admires the Brazilian and Afro-American musicians, who developed a new style without forgetting their roots




Translated lyrics of Sara Tavares

Before Sara Tavares retreats to the studio to record her new album (that is expected in the spring of 2009), she'll do six live shows in Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany.

Sara Tavares: "Afro-European music is the style of a new generation Afro-Europeans. "I don't fit into one music genre of world music, I am no typical Cape Verdian musician. I'd rather stand at the beginning of a new tradition of music of the diaspora, of young African immigrants in Europe who don't only look back."

Official site
Sara Tavares on Myspace

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yinka Shonibare – Modern African art from the UK


British-born Nigerian textile Artist, Yinka Sonibare is an internationally recognized contemporary artist. He has gained international attention by exploring issues of race and class through a range of media that includes sculpture, painting, photography, and installation art. One of his creations are classic Victorian costumes in African style. But he discovered something about the African clothing style that most people don't know.

He discovered that the 'Dutch wax' fabrics he chose to use in his art pieces was originally manufactured in Holland by the Dutch as they were trying to copy Indonesian Batik designs. The Dutch industrially had produced the fabrics for sale in the Indonesian market. The mass produced fabrics failed to appeal to the Indonesians as they did not like the industrially produced versions and so the Dutch merchants began selling the fabrics in West Africa. The English also started to manufacture the fabric in Manchester. Many people think this are authentic 'African fabrics' and he likes the 'fakeness' of that. Today in West Africa, and in many parts of the African continent, the patterned fabric is now an important and distinctive element of the African culture and symbolic of African identity.

On the photo: Scramble for Africa, 2003, 14 figures, 14 chairs and table " a recreation of the Berlin conference in the 19th century...It was when Africa was being divided up. It was in Europe. They had this conference in Berlin. And the conference was called Scramble for Africa. So on the table there's a map of Africa drawn.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

International art in Amsterdam Bijlmer


Her Majesty the Queen opens on Saturday 9the of May 2009 the first international art manifestation in the public space of Amsterdam. Open Source Amsterdam is the title of this unique event, which takes place in the Bijlmermeer. (The Bijlmermeer is the Caribbean and African part of Amsterdam.) From May 9 to July 11 there are 16 works by 15 artists from both foreign and domestically, internationally established and upcoming talent, a three kilometers long between art route between the Bijlmer-ArenA railway station and metro station Kraaiennest.

Editors note: The Bijlmer is considered the most multicultural black neighborhood of the Netherlands, with nationalities from the Caribbean, Africa and other part of the world. So if you are visiting Amsterdam you can enjoy international art and a black atmosphere.




Saturday, April 18, 2009

French President Sarkozy attacks President Obama

US and French Presidents in Strasbourg
"US President Obama is inexperienced and indecisive," said Sarkozy, according to a report in the newspaper Liberation. He went on by saying, “Obama has a subtle mind, is very clever and very charismatic, but when he was elected two months ago he had never run a ministry. There are a certain number of things on which he has no position. And he is not always up to standard on decision-making and efficiency.” Sarkozy was also lashing out to other leaders.

According to the Times it's clear that Mr Sarkozy was apparently irked by media reports that Mr Obama had saved the day in London by persuading President Hu of China to reach a compromise with France over tax havens.
Read: Sarkozy snipes at 'dim' Spanish PM and 'weak' Barack Obama

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Symposium on the Sub-Saharan Diaspora in Belgium

Last month, in collaboration with Afribel (United Afro Belgian Artist), Cemis (Center for Migration Studies, University of Antwerp), CGO Kasala (Afro Belgian Organisation created by Prof. Dr. Kabuta) and Cood, FOYER organized a ‘Symposium on the Sub-Saharan Diaspora in Belgium’ on 19 March 2009

FOYER is a nongovernmental organization concerned with migration and its consequences in Belgium. They do a great deal to help refugees and other immigrants to make a new home in Belgium. Multilingualism, social cohesion, refugees, women rights are some of the issues they try to tackle besides many more. They organize events, workshops, meetings, language courses, support groups etc. and help immigrants to organize themselves and be heard by the government.

This organization has been working for 40 years and therefore organized a Symposium on the Sub-Saharan Diaspora in Belgium. They invited representatives of the Afro Belgian communities and members of government to talk with each other and reflect on the presence of new communities within Belgium and its meaning for Belgium and Africa. Foyer wants to focus on the positive sides of migration, how everybody can gain something out of it, how it enriches Europe, and how it can influence Belgium’s relations with Africa.

On Foyer’s website you can see two video’s of approx. 30 minutes where you can follow the discussions tackled during that symposium. The languages in the video are Dutch and French.

The first video is about which role the African diaspora can play in Belgian and European cooperation. The second is about how to associate and motivate the African diaspora in the economical, social and political development of Africa.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Turkish reporter uses blackface to report on Obama

A Turkish reporter on Turkish TV wore blackface on while doing a report on United States President Barack Hussein Obama. The broadcast was on wednesday April 8th. But there are different translations and interpretations about what the reporter actually said and meant. I picked two of them.



The video



First translation

(Rough) Translation: Welcome, Mr. Obama. You took our hearts with your hospitality. We appreciate your kindness. We will do whatever America asks of us, as friends. Now, we ask the same of you.

The reason why the announcer is wearing black face paint is because he wants to show respect to President Obama. This is a real anchorman, and he is just trying to give a bit of a comedy act.

We inquire that you give us what we give to you. By all means, if someone translates this and I call you “black, Arab, or negro”, it does not mean I am disrespecting you. I mean no harm. We respect you.

The anchorman is also trying to show shame for what his country has done, so that is why his face is painted in black. The anchorman is saying that no politicians will directly tell the truth to President Obama while in Turkey. The anchorman says that Muslim terrorists attack inside Turkey, but the country does not renounce Islamic terrorism."

Second translation

Welcome Mr. Obama. You made us happy with your speech in Ankara with your open attitude and good will. However, we have some anxiety. Until now USA has always demanded and gotten what it wants [from Turkey] but now we have a request.

There is a proverb in Turkey which explains my current situation [with the black face]. “They who request something should have a black face, and they who do not give something should be black.” When they translate the word “black” from Turkish to English they might use words such as “Negro” or “Blackie.” Please do not be fooled with this translation. This word is not used to insult or belittle black people. In contrary, it is used in a sense that our face should be darker. Hence, I have painted my face black so that I can make a request to Mr. Obama.

Now to the point. We [Turkey] have had a problem for years with the terrorist organization PKK. You said that PKK is a common enemy to both our countries in your speech today. We are expecting serious and earnest cooperation from you [as opposed to Bush] in this subject. Give us actionable information [from northern Iraq] and we will do whatever is necessary if you do not want to do it. Instruct your allies in northern Iraq to cooperate with us in this subject. They are your “men” and they will obey you.

The second issue is about the “Armenian genocide.” In your speech today you said that your point of view in this subject has not changed. Please give us your support in this subject against the propaganda from the Armenian lobby.

Please continue with your support for Turkey's concession procedure to EU. Also, there is this subject of IMF. We do not want money from you, we want cooperation. You said in your speech that Turkey is an important allied to US. Give us what we want as allies and we will give you what you want.


Read:
New York Times news blog: Turkish TV Anchor Dons Blackface to Address Obama
Today's Zaman, The English-language newspaper in Turkey

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Michelle Obama's emotional speech in a London school


Michelle Obama's visited a school in London and spoke emotionally to a group of students. All of them girls ages 11 to 17, two-thirds of whom speak English as a second language. "I am just very touched," Michelle told the girls, choking up with emotion as she spoke. "All of you are jewels."
Read: Michelle Obama Finds Her Role on the World Stage

Black people in Italy

Black people in Italy became visible internationally by the death of Abdul "Abba" Guibre, a 19-year-old Italian citizen originating from Burkina Faso, who was beaten to death in 2008 for the theft of a few cookies.

But there is also a new second generation emerging in Italy. Sons and daughters of African, Asian and Arab immigrants who are
becoming a part of new Italy. In the article 'Second generation: as they say in Italian Obama?' several talented young second generation Italians are interviewed about there plans for the future.
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