Monday, September 6, 2010

Black people in Sweden – An African American experience


“African and African Diasporans have been living in Sweden since the 1300s,” writes Madubuko A. Robinson Diakité in his briefing ‘Afro Diasporians in Sweden, An unfinished History’ (2005). Diakité is a US born Swedish human rights lawyer and academic who has lived in Sweden since 1968.

His briefing is about Sweden’s “Blue men” during slavery, the African-American experience from the 1960s until today, and about the new arrived African immigrants in Sweden. In the intro he writes: “It's the result of many personal interviews and oral histories I have listened to with people here since my arrival in 1968.”

See snippets of the document below and download the pdf-document here.

M. A. Robinson Diakité is also Publisher and Managing Editor of a English University magazine entitled The Lundiun . A must read for everyone who is interested in Sweden.

Snippets of Afro Diasporians in Sweden

Post World War II arrivals

During 1950s and 60s, most African Americans who came to reside did so to join Family members (wives, husbands), or in the promotion of their arts. Also Jazz musicians, choreographers and others came during that time and made a lasting contribution to the development of post-ware Swedish artist, dancers and singers.

Bad Icons

It has been estimated that during the Vietnam era, between 600 and 800 US deserters came to Sweden, and appromatitely 15% of these were African American. [Unfortunately some of them became bad icons, because they were involveld in criminal activities.]

When president Jimmy Carter's Amnesty was adopted most of deseters returned home, Today, there are only a few (less than 20) African American military deserters living in Sweden.

African American Business in Sweden

One of the success stories is the language school and translation company from New Orleons native Ronald B. Antoine. The company was founded in 1970 and expanded in the period of 1971- 1980.

The end of A love affair

The handfull of African American in Sweden who live here today seem to be well assimilated even though they are, like other non-European immigrants, the victims of ethnic discrimination on the job and housing markets. To earn of living most of us have either low-level service-oriented job, are engaged in the production of fine art, or are on disability pensions for one reason or another.

New and recent arrivals

Today's fresh arrivals of African Americans are nearly all young men who are employed for their skills at basketball to work as coaches or team members. But this a skills-bank which is not open to other sports where African American have a high profile such as boxing or track.

Many members of the older generation now have children who, because they attend elementary school here and may have one Swedish parent, have integrated into Swedish society better then they did. But there are also those whose now grown children have left Sweden because they failed to find their place in Sweden society.

However, there are some succes stories too: the country's most popular Rap artist, Timbuktu, is an African American by parentage (both parents are Americans: one black, one white). [His real name is Jason Michael Robinson Diakité, he is the son of the author.]




Africans and African Diasporans have a long, intensive history in Sweden, and have left many legacies. Scores of Swedish singers, musicians and civil rights activist proudly tell long stories of the contributions that African American dances and musicians made to their own interpretations of the arts and cultures. But these stories are never written in Swedish history books.

The older generation of African and Diasporians in Sweden is aging and passing on. The new generation, consisting largely of political refugees from Sub-Saharan Africa and their families, are beginning to enter the political arena, albeit slowly. The national election of 2001 saw the election of two Sub-Saharan Africans to the Swedish Parliament. [One of them is of course Nyamko Sabuni (politician, currently serving as Minister for Integration and Gender Equality in the Swedish government)]

Some links:

African immigrants to Sweden (Wikipedia)
Urban Life (portal for the Afro-Swedish community)

5 comments:

  1. All i can say is when i see my people from all over the world...it makes me smile. Music is tight even though i don't understand it. Pride with a smile!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. It saddens me that the only time we hear about US is when entertainment is involved. Thus me na dance me na sing but me be PROUD , BLACK though pale, me na play basketball AND me AFRICAN !

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jah faya burn in the breast of da bretren come before I.
    Why we only entertain?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sweden will be black after fifty or hundred years.

    ReplyDelete

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