Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Keti Koti" - Commemoration of the abolition of slavery in Amsterdam on July 1st


“Kinderen uit de Maasstad”: Surinamese children celebrating in traditional dress
Keti Koti (Breaking the Chains) is the annual celebration and commemoration (since 2002) of the abolition of slavery in the former Dutch colonies on July 1st. It will be celebrated in the City of Amsterdam in the Oosterpark on July 1st 2010.

With performances of Surinamese, Antillean en Dutch music groups, the Keti Koti festival will again contribute to the broadening of the celebration and commemoration of the abolition of slavery. After the resounding success of last year it is expected that the festival will attract more then 20,000 people.

A Native Surinamese and Creole group playing Creole music on Keti Koti 2009 in Amsterdam



The Keti Koti Festival begins with a large-scale parade, the “Bigi Spikri” ("Big Mirror"), with orchestras and brass bands. The parade starts at 12:00 from the Stopera (City Hall) and will end in the Ooster Park, where the national commemoration takes place at the National Slavery Monument.

Honoured guests will be Dutch Minister Andre Rouvoet, the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, the ambassadors of Suriname, Ghana and South Africa and the mayor of Amsterdam.

Controversy
There is some controversy between the mayor black communities in the Netherlands about the commemoration date. For the Surinamese community the 1ste of July is also official commemoration day in Surinam, while for the Antillean community on the Dutch Antilles the official commemoration is held on August 17th. And also the name is different, on the Antilles it's called the " Tula commoration" and not "Keti Koti".

Links
Keti Koti: www.ketikotiamsterdam.nl
Ninsee - The National Institute for the Study of Dutch Slavery and its Legacy: (Dutch) www.ninsee.nl
(English) www.slavernijverleden.nl

Flamboyan dance group (Antillean)


The promo for 2010

The New Afro Belgian Generation: Three Belgian Artists of Congolese descent


Dr. Kwest. My Beat, My Life, My Congo EP (2010)

Today the RD of Congo celebrates its 50 years of independence. Many wonder if there is anything to celebrate at all. I won’t go deeper into that argument, we all know how difficult the last 5 centuries have been for Africa. It seems that the colonial, industrial, technological and economical successes of Europe and the West were all at a cost, fully paid by the black people of this planet.

But I'd rather draw the attention to something interesting that came out of this tragical history: a new generation of Belgian artists of Congolese descent creating refreshing music with roots in hip hop, electro and Africa.

Below I will tell you more about three fresh AfroBelgian producers and musicians: Baloji, Dr. Kwest and Esa Biyo



Baloji

The most famous one is Baloji, former rapper in the Belgian Hip Hop group Starflam. He came to live in Belgium as a 3 year old and grew up here. He says he is actually more European than African, a thing he realized when he traveled back to his motherland last year. Starflam was succesful in Belgium and France with tracks such as ‘Ce Plat Pays’ and ‘Amnesie International ‘ (feat. Zap Mama). But Baloji reached maturity with his second solo album (Kinshasa Succursale) released this year. He is now touring all over Europe with his Congolese band. He mixes hip hop and poetry with original African and Congolese sounds, always keeping in mind a deeper message to his music. Below I post a video of his latest single ‘Karibu ya Bintou’. This track features Konono nr. 1, a grouped based in Kinshasa that combines the traditional Likembe with electronics. You can find more on youtube on Konono nr. 1 and Baloji.



Dr. Kwest

Another artist you have to keep an eye on is mystery figure Dr. Kwest. Just like Baloji Dr. Kwest is of Congolese origin although he was raised in Belgium. Today Dr. Kwest is based in Brussels and mixes eclectic electronic hip hop soul with anything that fits with it. Dr. Kwest is a musical innovator who spoils his fans with regular mixes on mixcloud and produces instrumental music which is hard to define (I’ll give it a try with electronic soul noise hop …).

Especially for this 50 year of independence Dr. Kwest delivers an EP (My Beat, My Life, My Congo - 2010) with eccentric tracks that express very well the bitter aftertaste of this celebration while keeping in touch with the Congolese sound. I recommend you all to check this out on this link. You can also find mixes and productions by Dr. Kwest on mixcloud.com.

Esa Biyo

Last but not least I want to present you another AfroBelgian producer of Congolese origin: Esa Biyo. This producer opted for a mix of old skool Congolese rumba tracks and dub. Slowing down the Congolese Rumba Esa Biyo created a sad version of the famous rumba tracks produced in the 60’s and 70’s by famous artist like Rochereau, Franco & OK jazz, Mbelia Bel, … below I post a video for one of his latest productions, featuring footage from a documentary of the then Zaïre national footbalteam in the 70’s.



Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Mute Belgian King visits Congo



King Albert II of Belgium and Queen Paola arrived in Congo yesterday. They are on an official visit for Congo’s 50 years of independence ceremony, tomorrow 30 June. Congo is a former Belgian colony and since independence both countries have kept a ‘special’ relationship. Still, it has been 25 years since the last official visit of a Belgian monarch in Congo. Last time it was King Baudoin who visited Congo when ruled by Mobutu. King Baudoin is also the king who handed independence to the Congolese in 1960, when then prime minister Lumumba made his (in)famous speech.

Kabila invited the Belgian King. This invitation stirred the opinion of Belgian politicians about Belgium’s relationship with Congo. Some thought the King shouldn’t go because Congo is still not a democratic country. Other thought he should go as this was an opportunity to reconfirm Belgium’s relationship with Congo, and to give a sign to the Congolese government about the things that should be done. But the King has decided for the middle: he will be at the ceremony but he will make no public statement.

Many among the Congolese people are disappointed about this. They think that a King’s statement could make a difference. Although Belgium is the former colonizer, to many Congolese the Belgians are still the ones who created Congo (even if it was a cruel and terrible creation). Belgians in Congo are treated with respect, they are Congo’s uncles as the Congolese say themselves. To them the words of a King could have a heavy symbolic meaning. Therefore they hope that his words can change the hardship the Congolese masses are going through. But that is according to me wishful thinking. And besides, the King decided to say no more.



Relations between Belgium and Congo have been difficult lately. President Kabila chose to sign contracts with Chinese and Indian investors while the Belgians refused to invest as long as there were no more signs of democratic change. This is a complicated argument.

Kabila was elected democratically a few years ago. While I know that corruption and oppression still control much of Congolese life, and that the vast majority of Congolese live in too much poverty without education or health care, I also see and hear that things are changing (a bit). Roads are rebuild (by Chinese contractors though) and parliament has never spoken so freely about the things the government should do better or does wrong. Still, last week the most important human rights activist, Floribert Chebeya, was killed in very suspicious circumstances and this is just one murder among others.

It is hard to judge Kabila now, I wonder sometimes how much he himself controls the situation or that he gets manipulated by the powerful people around him, much of whom or former Mobutu collaborators. I just wonder how he will handle the next elections. Joseph Kabila is not his father and not Mobutu. He is much calmer and controlled. He keeps on the background while it is he who has the final say about important decisions, or so I think.

Next to the Belgian King there will be many other head of states tomorrow in Kinshasa. Most notably: Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan president Paul Kagame. They were both enemies during the Congolese wars (1998-2003) as they supported rebel groups in Congo against the Congolese army. But relationships between Congo and these countries has been smoothed out recently as they fight together now against the ‘bad guys’ (the rebels). My cousin who lives and works in Eastern Congo assures me that it hasn’t been so peaceful in many years. Still, army troops with guns but no salary is a dangerous feat. And last but not least, Mugabe, president of what is left of Zimbabwe, will ‘honor’ the ceremony with his presence.

Below a videoshoot of King Albert II's arrival in Kinshasa - No Comment

Sunday, June 27, 2010

AfroGerman week: Noah Sow - Author, singer and activist

Noah Sow is the author of the book "Deutschland Schwarz weiss - der alltägliche Rassismus" ("Deutschland Black & white. Everyday Racism"). And front woman of her Punk Rock band NOISEAUX . And she is also the founder of the anti-racist media watch dog "Der Braune mob". And if that's not enough she also appears on television as a moderator.

In an interview she talks about the media watch dog and the racial issues in Germany. "Der braune mob is Germany's first and as far as I know only media watchdog that's concerned with issues of discriminatory and politically incorrect language, content or pictures, mainly in media and advertising. Our focus lies on educating about what public racial discrimination actually is.

We have a lot to do, as Germany is a developing country in terms of racism. Most of the time the newspapers don't even know that for example referring to Obama as 'the coloured candidate' is wrong, so when we write to them they argue a lot. Plus, in Germany, the word racism is taboo.

If you accuse someone of having used a racist expression, they will deny that it's racist even when the term the N-Word is said."

Music
The Punk Rock band NOISEAUX


Book
In the book Deutschland Black & white she write about racism, but not about being black in Germany. "My book isn't about being black," explains Sow in an interview. "It's a mix between humour, education, how racism was 'invented' and what it serves for. It also about structural racism, like in sports, government, police and media. And its about modern and new racist strategies and how to beat them, and also - what I thought was very important - ideas how to help end racism, for the future.

So it's not a book about being black. Actually it's almost the opposite. It's about the role of whiteness in perpetuating racism. Can be used for self-medication. From the feedback so far, white readers learned something new about themselves and black readers had a good time with the humour chapters, like 'List of stupid phrases we never want to hear again - and according answers."

Although the book is written in German, there is a interesting English section with large outline of her book, and her 'List of stupid phrases'. One of those stupid phrases is "I cannot be a racist, I have a Black wife / Black children.” See her website for the answer here.

Read full interview here: here.

Links
Website: www.noahsow.de
Website Media Organisation www.derbraunemob.de
Website book Deutschland Schwarz Weiss (Ger) http://deutschlandschwarzweiss.de/en/index.html

AfroGerman week: The exhibition “Homestory Deutschland”


Homestory Germany "is a multimedia theatre piece of the authors Sharon Dodua Otoo and Manuela Ritz.

The exihibition highligts 300 years of black German history, by highlighting six black German life stories.


Websites: www.sharonotoo.com/homestorydeutschland
Blog: http://homestorydeutschland.blogspot.com
And:inspiredcomm-unity.blogspot.com/


Saturday, June 26, 2010

AfroGerman week: Singer Joy Denalane - "Im Ghetto von Soweto"

Joy Maureen Denalane (South African/German) known as Joy Denalane, is a German singer-songwriter, known for her mixture of soul, R&B, and African folk music with lyrics in German and English.

In 2002 she released the album 'Mamani' (2002) with the song "Im Ghetto von Soweto" featuring Hugh Masekela.



website: www.joydenalane.com/

Friday, June 25, 2010

AfroGerman week: Hans J. Massaquoi growing up in Nazi Germany

Hans J. Massaquoi, former Managing editor of Ebony Magazine, tells of growing up Black in Nazi Germany in his book, 'Desitined To Witness'.

This very powerful story was brought to the German Television in a two part docu-drama in 2006.

In his autobiography, Destined to Witness, Massaquoi describes his childhood and youth in Hamburg during the Nazi rise to power. His biography provides a unique point of view: he was one of very few German-born mulattoes in all of Nazi Germany, shunned, but not persecuted by the Nazis. This dichotomy remained a key theme throughout his whole life.

Massaquoi lived a simple, but happy childhood with his mother, Bertha Nikodijevic. His father, Al-Haj Massaquoi, was a law student in Dublin who only occasionally lived with the family at the consul general home in Hamburg. Eventually, the consul general was recalled to Liberia, and Hans Massaquoi and his mother remained in Germany. (Click on the picture to enlarge.)

The daily life of the young Massaquoi was remarkable. He was one of the few mixed race children in Nazi Germany, and like most of the other children his age, he dreamed of joining the Hitler Youth. Increasingly, however, he realized the true nature of Nazism. His skin color made him a target for racist abuse.


See more videos here

However, in contrast to German Jews or German Roma, Massaquoi—as a German Negro—was not persecuted. He was "just" a second-class citizen, which was actually a blessing in disguise. During World War II, his "impurity" spared him from being drafted into the German army. As unemployment, hunger and poverty grew rampant, he even tried to enlist, but he was rejected by the officers. In this time, he befriended the family of Ralph Giordano, a half-Jewish acquaintance of their swing kid age, who survived the war by hiding and ended up being a journalist as well. (source wikipedia)


Update:

Hans Massaquoi has died Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, on his 87th birthday in Jacksonville USA. See the post here.

Links to videos of Destined to witness
Destined to witness, part 1
Destined to witness, part 2
Destined to witness, part 3
Destined to witness, part 4
Destined to witness, part 5
Destined to witness, part 6
Destined to witness, part 7

Matongé en Couleur 2010: Afro Festival in Brussels 26/06 - 27/06

The Matongé Mural

Like every year this weekend (sa 26 & su 27/06) the ‘Matongé en Couleur’ (Matongé in Colours) Festival takes place in Brussels. This is a yearly event with music and animation in the streets of Matongé.

Matongé is a commercial neighbourhood in Ixelles/Elsene, a southern borough of Brussels. The area is located close to metrostation Porte de Namur/Naamse Poort. It’s full of afroshops and African barbershop and salons. If you need anything African in Brussels it’s in Matongé you have to be.

Matongé’s name comes from the Matongé market in Kinshasa (D.R. of Congo). Most Africans in Belgium are of Congolese descent. But you will also find a lot of people from all parts of Africa, as well as shops with all kinds of African and Caribbean products.


An impression of the street ambience during Matongé en Couleur


Matongé is first of all an African commercial area. It is not a predominantly black neighborhood. Although many people of African descent live in Brussels they do not live in a separate neighborhoods but are scattered all around the city. Brussels has some boroughs that are rather posh and others that are much poorer, but the city lacks the social ghetto’s or banlieus such as in French cities.
You can find more info on Matongé, Brussels in this article by Mpho Mfenyana


Matongé Mural



Detail from the Matongé Mural: "I traveled all over the world, never have I seen a city like Brussels and a neighborhood like Ixelles’s Matongé where everybody mixes (more than 100 nationalities in this neighborhood alone). Hard to describe in a word what Matongé is or the city of Brussels itself. Bruxelles is a mythical city, Brussels is a paradise."


Thursday, June 24, 2010

AfroGerman week: Singer Adé Bantu founder of My Brothers Keepers


Adegoke Odukoya, better known as Adé Bantu (born July 13, 1971 in Wembley, London) is a Nigerian-German musician, producer and activist. He is best known as the founder of the Afro-German musical collective and NGO Brothers Keepers and as the front man of Bantu & Afrobeat Academy Band. He received the Kora Award (the Pan-African equivalent of the Grammy) for his album "Fuji Satisfaction" in 2005.

Adé Bantu was born in Wembley, London. He is biracial, being the son of a German mother and a Nigerian father. In 1973 he relocated to Lagos, Nigeria with his parents Adeleke Odukoya and Barbara Odukoya. After the death of his father in 1986 he moved with his mother and 3 siblings to Germany. (source wikipedia)

Bantu - Ilé



Bonus video BANTU Live! Koln; Follow Your Road


Website Brothers Keepers http://brotherskeepers.org

AfroGerman week: filmmaker Mo Asumang in search of "Roots Germania"


Mo Asumang (Ghanaian/German) is a well known German filmmaker, actress and moderator. She received wide acclaim with the film "Roots Germania" (2007).

About the film she writes on her website: " Mo was able to solve a trauma caused by racism; She undertakes a journey to discover her roots and her identity, facing her African father in Ghana, her White German Mother in German, and Jürgen Rieger, the head of the neonaziparty NPD. The catalyst of this journey, a threat over her life received by the NeoNazi Band "White Aryan Rebels", becomes a poignant tool for self discovery and a sharp reflection to matters of racism in Germans society of today. "

But critics say the film is not so much about racism, but more about Mo's personal journey.

In the video she meets Jürgen Rieger, the head of the Neo-Nazi party NPD. She interviews him about his plan to "breed" Germans.



A short English translation

I have got an appointment with him, but I didn't say I was black.

(1:12) MA: [outside in the garden] You made a attempt to “breed” Germans?

Jürgen Rieger (JR): No, I didn’t made a attempt

(1:25) MO: But you were looking for a family who would be willing to go Sweden and would over there breed Germanic people. That what you said.

JR: No.

(1:45) JR: The Nordic race is relatively objective and other races are most of the time not objective. I also see that in you.

I was searching for a German couple who wanted to live in a settlement in Sweden, without world influences. Free of drugs

I didn't say I was searching for a family for racial breeding. That a big difference.

(2:21) MO: Can I apply?

JR: No.

MA: Why not?

JR: You are not from Germanic descent.

MA: Why not?

JR: Look in the mirror.

(2: 27) MA: You could ostracize your daughter from the family because she married someone with different skin colour.

JR:I would totally break with my daughter. She couldn’t enter the house anymore. It is clear, I am totally against it It would be the same as cutting of the roots. It would be the worst thing.

(3: 03) JR: In my opinion I don't think Germans, in about 200 years , should look like you. They should look like the other four [pointing at the camera team].

MR: Are you racially pure?

JR: He is more racially pure. The camera man

I wonder why you surround yourself with Nordic persons. There is more Nordic substance
here then you usually see in the German population.

It’s really remarkable. The moderator is half afro, African ..

Website: www.mo-asumang-management.com

MEP Louis Michel says: “King Leopold II was a hero.”


Jean Ping, African Union Commission Chairperson, with Louis Michel, then European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid


Next week (30/06/2010) the Democratic Republic of Congo will celebrate its 50 years of independence. As the former colonizer of the area Belgium is going through a real Congo hype this year. Media and politicians can’t stop to talk about Congo, the historical relation with Belgium and the current situation in Congo. In many cases I think this is good. Many Belgians want to come clear with their past. It is late to do so, but better late than never. Unfortunately some grab this opportunity to rehabilitate the colonial atrocities committed in the name of civilization and Christianity.

Tuesday Louis Michel, former Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs (1999-2002), EU commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Development (2002-2009), and nowadays member of the European parliament, claimed that Leopold II is a Belgian hero and talked in positive terms about all the good Belgian colonization brought to Congo. This is unbelievable, considering the amounts of historical research that already proved that king Leopold II’s colonial project was cruel and unnecessarily harsh. Although Stalin, who wasn’t much less cruel and demagogue than Hitler, gets a heroic role in current Russian historical literature, I wouldn’t recommend Belgian historians to claim that its most ruthless former ruler was a hero …


A result of Leopold's colonialism, adults and children had their hands amputated when they did not meet demands for rubber.




Leopold II was the founder and owner of the Congo Free State, which was his private colonial project. The European powers agreed on Leopold II’s undertaking on the condition that it was as a civilizing mission to bring civilization and modernization to the peoples of Congo.

Of course just as all colonial projects, it was presented as a civilizing mission, but was all about the money. When the car and bike industry boomed and the need for rubber increased dramatically everything was permitted to get as much rubber as possible. Adam Hochschild wrote a very interesting book about the atrocities committed in Congo during its exploitation (King Leopold’s Ghost). If you want to know more about it a quick search in google of “Leopold II, King of the Belgians” will enlighten you in the big role he played during the African colonization.

Of course King Leopold II is not the only sinner of his age. His endeavor is comparable to most European colonial projects, whether it is the British Empire, France or Germany. There were no saints in this story, and the civilizing mission was just a cover up to make a lot of money. I believe the Belgian story is best known because Belgium is a small and insignificant country which is easier to criticize than the bigger nations of Europe. Furthermore the Belgian colonial project didn’t start as a political national project but a private endeavor of one man, therefore easier to single out. But, believe me, all European nations were guilty of comparable crimes.

Today a respected Belgian politician is rewriting history. In a interview in P-Magazine Louis Michel felt the need to defend Leopold II’s legacy. He said that the king was “an ambitious visionary” and that he instinctively feels that “Leopold II was a hero, a hero with ambition for a small country such as Belgium”. According to him “Leopold II doesn’t deserve the accusation he has been subjected to”. He said that the Belgians built railways, roads, hospitals, schools and increased the economical growth. Economical growth? As if all peoples of the earth were waiting for being part of the big capitalistic world? Concerning the railway and roads, they were build for European economical purposes only. The towns were build for the colonizers, not the colonized (except as work force). Only after World War 2 the European nations started to invest in schools and hospitals for the Africans, but never enough to educate all anyway. Ten years later they realized that the colonial endeavor wasn't lucrative any more for the state, certainly not if they had to follow their own humanist logic of 'same rights for all people'. But having privatised the major companies, these private European companies could keep on making money in an independent (but controlled) African state. Thus started the wave of independece in Africa.

When Louis Michel was confronted with the fact that people were ruthlessly forced to work in mines and plantations during colonization he waved this argument away saying that this was the way things happened then.

This is too easy. So we can’t judge things that happened in the past because they were considered normal at the time? That means that we can’t judge the lynching of blacks in the southern US, we can’t judge the killings of Jews, we can’t judge racial discrimination, we can't even judge slavery … because this is the way things were in those days? Please! This is total bullshit! With his argumentation the peoples of the world should be grateful to Europe for having colonized them.

Louis Michel is also saying that it is unacceptable to use the world ‘genocide’ to name what happened to the Congolese people in the first 30 years of colonization. Research showed that the population dropped dramatically during that period, due to forced labor, terror policy and illnesses. But I can agree with Louis Michel on this point, I don’t think it was genocide. A genocide is the organization of mass murder, with the will to exterminate another group of human beings. I doubt the colonizers wanted to exterminate the peoples of Africa, they needed them as a labor force. But if they killed so many so unscrupulously it is because they didn’t even consider black people human beings. This is the way things were done in those days, and according to Louis Michel we can’t judge this, because the only thing the colonizer wanted, was for the greater good and the benefit of all.

Drawing such a conclusions is child like, immature, scandalous and shocking. That such a respected politician who doesn’t even have an infamous past as a racist or imperialist, makes such statements, makes it even more scary. Does this show the state of mind of mainstream European politics? If so, we better be prepared for the worst.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

AfroGerman week: Poet Olumide Popoola

Olumide Popoola is a Nigerian German performer, poet and writer. She has performed internationally, increasingly also as a guest lecturer or speaker and collaborates with other artists and musicians.

In Germany she is known especially as one of the editors (and contributor) of the anthology ‘Talking Home' (bluemoonpress 1999) and for winning the May Ayim Award for Poetry in 2004, the first International Black German Literary Award.



Website: www.olumidepopoola.com/
Her blog: http://olumidepopoola.blogspot.com

Olumide Popoola's work is inspired by Afro-German Poet May Ayim. So it's interesting to see them both performing (in this post).


AfroGerman week: Artist Naomi Bendt teaches self-consciousness trough art


Berlin Artist Naomi Bendt works with children for the organisation “Interkulturelles Netzwerk Jugend Berlin – Kreuzberg”. The project was sponsored by the German social lottery Aktion Mensch.

In the short promo video Bendt says: Aktion Mensch means self-consciousness to me. My goal is that the children become more aware of themselves. Self-consciousness is also important if, like me, you have a different cultural background. If you have healthy self-consciousness you wont be influenced that easily. It means that you are of proud of your heritage and know who you are.



See painting of Naomi Bendt here
Her website is under construction.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

AfroGerman week: Rapper Samy Deluxe

One of Germany’s most famous rappers. In 2001 he scored a hit with his debut song "Weck mich auf" (Wake me up" from his debut album “Samy Deluxe”.

Delux is a member of the German anti-racism project Brothers Keepers.

A snippet from "Weck mich auf"
We live in a country where there are more barriers then roads,
More walls then bridges, the mood´s depressing.
And our elders ask: Why do I smoke weed on daily bases?
And why is that that my generation and me are so depressed?
All day we are surrunded by living death ...
Surrounded by signs saying : “Do not enter!”
Surrounded by skinheads, taking lives of Turks and Africans .. See full translation here


See an English subtitled video below



Website: www.samy-deluxe.de/

Monday, June 21, 2010

Afro-German week: Actor Tyron Ricketts in "AfroDeutsch"

AfroDeutsch (AfroGerman) is an intriguing short film (2002) by actor and musician Tyron Ricketts. It’s the movie title song for Afro-Germans.

The film describes what it’s like growing up in Germany as Afro-German, with all its facets. Ricketts (1973) was born in Austria to a Jamaican father and an Austrian mother. He now lives in Germany.

To put the film into context. The film was made after the racist killing of the black German Adrinio in 2000 by Neo Nazis. In the same period the Afro-German anti-racism group Brothers Keepers was formed of which Tyron Ricketts is a member.

The big news is that the film is subtitled in English just recently.




Website Tyron Ricketts www.tyronricketts.com

Website Brothers Keepers http://brotherskeepers.org

I love Brazil! A Short Report of my Brazilian Experience



I was in Brazil for a month, from the 12th of May till the 12th of June. I visited the 3 biggest cities of the country. Sao Paulo (aka Sampa), Salvador da Bahia (aka Bahia) and Rio de Janeiro (aka Rio). It was a revelation. Although I knew that I was visiting a country with more than 500 years of interracial history, it still was a great and beautiful surprise to experience this mixed place. Brazil is the country of the Western hemisphere with the greatest African influence and the greatest black population of the West. The way this country today handles its history and diversity is inspiring.

Friday, June 18, 2010

World Cup: What happened to the Black Dutch “beer babe”?


Photo: Cheering Black girl on the right
Dozens of Dutch female football fans in Bavaria "Dutchdress" were in the international spotlight after they were arrested at the World Cup stadium because they violated FIFA sponsorship rules.

But where was the cheering black girl in the Bavaria commercial which is aired in the Netherlands? See video commercial here.

The scene in South Africa at the World Cup.



It reminds of the international poster of the film Couples Retreat, where the black actors got deleted from the poster to "simplify" it for a European audience.

Maybe sponsor Bavaria was simplifying “Holland” for the world.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Video: Interview with Nneka at the UCLA Jazz & Reggae Festival


An interview with Nneka at the UCLA Jazz & Reggae Festival in LA (May 30-31 2010). She talks about her journey, how her album "Concrete Jungle" fits in America, her spiritual connection with Nas and Damian Marley, the internet and the lingua she uses in her music. She was interviewed by Marguerite de Bourgoing.

Much thanks to Marguerite for the video. For more information see the website of "LA STEREO TV", a media organisation in the hip (hop) scene in Los Angeles. See www.lastereo.tv




Nneka performing live

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Silenced History from Belgian Congo: A Mixed Race History



You haven’t heard much from me lately. I was writing a book and it’s finally finished and published. The book I wrote together with Kathleen Ghequière traces back a history of Africa and Europe that has been ignored for too much time. Some of you know about the mixed race children of Australia thanks to movies such as ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ or even Baz Luhrmann’s latest ‘Australia’. But concerning Africa this history is unknown.

It seems as if the European colonizer didn’t have intimate relationships with the African colonized. But many children were born out of relations between white Europeans and black Africans during colonization. These children undermined the racial colonial order with their existence. These children have been hidden and their stories silenced. At least for the Belgian Congo this story is now unveiled and in this book the mixed race children of Belgium and Congo express their history freely.



Through the testimony of two dozens of mixed race Belgians born in Congo we have tried to tell a story which is mostly unknown to the Belgian and Flemish public. Kathleen Ghequière interviewed them. They were all people born during colonization from one black and one white parent. Some of them grew up in their families but most of them weren’t recognized by their fathers and were taken away from their mothers at a very young age. The colonial authority separated these children from their mothers to raise them in schools only for ‘mulatto children’. At independence the colonial authorities decided to deport the younger once (between 2 and 16 years old) to Belgium to be adopted in Belgian families. The circumstances are still unknown, which children were send over and why is still a mystery. Even the exact number of children deported is hard to tell.

Kathleen Ghequière found many of them living in Belgium who were prepared to tell their side of the story. I edited these interviews, translated those done in French and tried to make of more than a thousand pages of testimony an accessible and readable book. It became a book of 250 pages full of beautiful pictures from the colonial past out of their personal archives. Filip Claus took recent pictures of the witnesses and I added with some academic assistance some social historical explanation and maps.

I am very happy with the result and hope that the book will be translated in French soon. It was mostly important to publish the book in the Flemish part of Belgium because the Flemish don’t know anything about the mixed race children of their country. In French neutral terms such as ‘metissage’ and ‘metis’ define these people in a positive way. But Dutch lacks this kind of vocabulary, mostly because the Dutch speaking people lack any knowledge about this part of their history. The Dutch language lacks emotionally and politically neutral terms for mixed race people (generally the Dutch and Flemish use English or French to express these terms for which they don’t have their own words). Journalists in progressive newspapers in Belgium refer to Barack Obama as a ‘mulat’, a word perceived by many Dutch speaking blacks as offending. We decided to take a provocative and colonial title with a more explaining subtitle in which we introduce a new word in the Dutch language: metis.

De Bastaards van onze kolonie. Verzwegen verhalen van Belgische metissen (The Bastards of our colony. Hidden stories of Belgian metis) is published by Roularta and available at all good book stores in Belgium. You can also order it online

Wednesday 16th of June is the official release at Vooruit (culture center) in Ghent, Belgium. The entrance is free


Monday, June 14, 2010

“Masquerade” - a photo exhibit about identity (Guadeloupe)


Do your friends know who you really are? French Caribbean photographer Jacky KIJA Gotin (1980) tries expose us in his new photo exhibition “Masquerade” (in French “Mascarade") on the French Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe, 18-24th June 2010.

About the exhibition Gotin says: " Sometimes we are forced to wear masks in order to fit right into society, to be well seen in some groups. We develop many identities (at work, in the family, with friends, on social networks).

But at the end of the day, do we know who we really are? ‘Mascarade’ is about the fact that sometimes people can move away from who they really are and get lost. “

Mascarade (Masquerade) is a series of 35 pictures. The exhibition is in 3 parts: Dusk, Metamorphosis and Dawn.

Gotin: “So at the end of the exhibition when dawn happens, the characters of the Masquerade have to make a choice: get rid of the mask and find a true identity or keep the mask and live under a false identity. The exhibition is built with quotes of Aimé Césaire, Khalil Gibran, Maryse Condé, Les Nubians etc.”

“My photography is about the identity,” says Gotin. “ As a west Indian, I was born on an island with a Caribbean background, but with African, European, American influences. I guess my photography is about the need to define myself without denying my roots."

About Jacky KIJA Gotin. He was born in Guadeloupe in 1980, lived in Paris and moved back to Guadeloupe again. He learned photography following photographers in soul and jazz concerts in Paris. And worked with African and Caribbean musicians like Kaysha, Edgar Yonkeu, Erik, Meemee Nelzy, Dominik Coco etc..

The exhibition will take place in Le Centre Culturel de la Retraite, Baie-Mahault, on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. 18-24th June.

Website: kijaphoto.com

If you also want to catch some of the summer spirit of the French Caribbean and its people, see his Gotin’s photo stream here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Funny Dutch World Cup commercial


A great beer commercial. A video with Diego Maradona (Argentina-England), Saeed el Oweian (Saudi Arabia-Belgium) and Augustine "Jay=Jay" Okocha (Nigeria- Germany) and Ari Haan (Netherlands-Italy).

I think the message is: why do it the hard way, if you can do it easy.

Friday, June 11, 2010

What’s R. Kelly doing at the World Cup?

What’s R. Kelly doing at the World Cup? This is one of the biggest world events and they let R. Kelly perform?

R. Kelly’s new song “Sign of a Victory” is chosen as one of the three official 2010 FIFA World Cup anthems. Kelly and the South African group the Soweto Spiritual Singers, will perform “Victory” at the June 11 opening ceremony in Johannesburg.

I know Mr Kelly was never convicted of having, how shall I put it .., "indecent video material", but I when I heard of it I never listened to his music again.

Couldn’t they have chosen someone who is more ..., how shall I put it, in line with modern international Black standards.



World Cup Opening Ceremony Without Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela will not attend the opening World Cup match as his family grieved the death of great grandchild Zenani, the Nelson Mandela Foundation said on Friday.

The statesman said that it would be "inappropriate" to be present after Zenani Mandela, 13, was killed in a car accident in the early hours of Friday morning as she returned home from a World cup concert near Johannesburg. Read full story here

Video: South African World Cup 2010 and Nelson Mandela.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Anti-Islam party gains Dutch vote

Picture: "In IJsselstein we speak Dutch." A sign in a city near Utrecht where a lot of Moroccan people live.

BBC: A Dutch anti-Islam party has more than doubled its seats in parliament in a national vote, though it is unclear if it will take part in a coalition.

Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders said he wanted to be part of government.

The election saw the centre-right Liberal Party (VVD) emerging as the largest party, one seat ahead of the centre-left Labour Party. The Christian Democrat party of outgoing Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende suffered a big defeat.


Weeks of coalition negotiations are expected to follow the election.
With more than 99% of votes counted, the VVD had 31 of 150 seats, while Labour had 30.

As the party with the most seats, VVD leader Mark Rutte could now become the first prime minister from his political camp since World War I. Read more here

The PVV is the party of Geert Wilders, the one who toured the world with the Anti-Islam film “Fitna”. The slogan of the PVV: Less immigration, less crime, less Islam:

But who are the voters of the PVV? It seems that most voters are from the South of the Netherlands (which is a part of the bible belt). And also that a lot of voters are from small towns where there is hardly any "diversity".

Some facts about the PVV

- The party is a foundation, and not a normal political party with members. You can’t vote in this party. Wilders is the one and only chairman of the foundation.
- Some Black people have voted for the PVV. They believe that Wilders is anti-Islam and not anti-immigrant or anti-Black. In the Netherlands Moroccans are not seen as “black community”, but as an "Arab" community.
- A black Antillean man will also be elected for parliament for the PVV.

My opinion

I've seen The Netherlands transform from a tolerant country into an intolerant country. I really hope it will change some day.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Estelle announces appearance at Cool Brittannia Festival during World Cup Football


Estelle has announced that she will be bringing her stunning live show to Cool Britannia festival in Cape Town on the June 11th – on the evening of the tournaments opening day and to launch what is set to be a spectacular month long party at the game’s greatest tournament.

Estelle - American Boy - Later Live with Jools


www.coolbritanniasa.com

Photo exposition of David Damoison in Paris, till July 31th


Paris-born Martiniquean photographer David Damoison has a photo exhibition till July 31th 2010 in the gallery Anne de Villepois in Paris.

This exhibition is the third and final exhibit of the 3X3 series which offeres the public a chance to discover three Caribbean artists.

Now what is so interesting about this exhibition? The intriguing photos of Hatian people and their the voodoo rituals .The scenes of rough night live in Brazzaville Congo. And the photos of somewhat lost French Carribean folks in urban Paris. You can see all of his photographs on his website http://damoison.com/.

If you want to explore this you may want to try the following steps.

One: Website of David Damoison
http://damoison.com/

Two: Interview with David Damoison
http://www.odcap.com

Three: Photos of the opening
http://www.fxgpariscaraibe.com

Four: The Gallery in Paris
http://www.annedevillepoix.com/

Five: Black French artists magazine : Revue Noir
http://www.revuenoire.com/

Monday, June 7, 2010

Commemoration of German race-hate victim Alberto Adriano, 11-12 June 2010 in Dessau


Ten years ago Afro-German Alberto Adriano was brutally killed by three Nazi youths in a park in the Eastern German city of Dessau. To commemorate Adriano, a commemorative event, a memorial concert and a conference will be held on 11 and 12 June in Dessau.

In the evening of June 11the 2000 Alberto Adriano was brutally murdered by three drunken neo-Nazis. They told the police they did it because they hated foreigners.

Alberto Adriano - who had lived and worked in Germany for more than 20 years - had been celebrating a forthcoming trip to Mozambique. Read the full story: Race hate in Germany (BBC)

For more information about the commemoration see: Kommentar: Alberto Adriano – Gedenken anlässlich des 10. Todestages

And photos of the funeral of Adriano, and of East Germany in 2000 here.

In 2001 the German Anti-Racism organisation "Brothers Keepers" made the single "Adriano – Letzte Warnung“, ("Adriano - Final Warning").



A state court sentenced one man to life in prison and two 16-year-old skinhead accomplices to nine years each for the murder of a 39-year-old immigrant from Mozambique.

Black race-hate victims in Europe:

Kerwin Duinmijer (20 August 1983) - Netherlands
Stephen Lawrence (22 April 1993) - UK
Alberto Adriano (11 June 2000) – Germany

African students prefer Europe

When it comes to pursuing higher education, most African students prefer Germany, France or the UK

About 77 per cent of all African students who study abroad do so in Europe while 18 per cent of all foreign students in Europe are from Africa, according to a report.

It also said out of about 144 million students who enrolled in institutions of higher education, about 3 million of them migrated from the Africa sub-region to Europe.

Prof Goolam Mohamedbhai, Secretary-General of the Association of African Universities (AAU), said this at a workshop in Accra.

The event which brought together about 80 representatives of senior leadership and management personalities from Africa and Europe, explored how higher education institutions in both regions cope with the changing demands of their specific socio-economic environments.

Mohamedbhai said three European countries that received the largest number of the foreign students were the United Kingdom, Germany and France accounting for about 30 per cent. (Source: Pune Mirror.in)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Suzanna Lubrano wins award for Best Diaspora Artist (Netherlands)


Suzanna Lubrano has won the award for “Best African Artist based in the Diaspora” at the Museke Online Africa Music Awards (MOAMAs) 2010. The winners were selected based on African music fan votes. Voting took place from April 6 to May 29, 2010 on http://awards.museke.com

Suzanna Lubrano is a Netherlands (Rotterdam) based Zouk artist. If you're not into Zouk, Kizomba or Afro-Portuguese music you probably would not know that Lubrano has won the Kora All African Music Award for Best African Female Artist in 2003. The Kora Awards are music awards given annually for musical achievement in sub-Saharan Africa. They are comparable to the American Grammy Awards in intent.

Lubrano performing in the Netherlands



And you probably would not know that she received the award in a live TV show which was watched by over more then 600 million people. (Source: NPS)

This summer, Suzanna Lubrano will have many performances in Africa. Shows are coming up in Angola, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe and elsewhere.

Other shows will take place in Europe and USA, among them June 18 in Rotterdam and June 25 in London (IndigO2, with Yuri da Cunha).

Website: http://www.suzannaonline.nl/

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Black German theatre group serves up snapshots of German racism


From Der Schwarze Blog:
The German Theatre ensemble Label Noir will peform the play “Heimat, bittersüße Heimat” ("Homeland, Bittersweet Homeland") on 4-6 June in the Hoftheater in Berlin.

A theater group is challenging Germany's assumptions about race, culture and identity with a courageous new production that sheds light on the black German experience of everyday racism.

"My, but you speak excellent German - flawless grammar, perfect accent. Keep up the good work!"

The elderly lady with a prim hat and pursed lips tries to compliment the young black woman sitting on the park bench beside her, but her praise backfires when it's obvious that she can hardly grasp the notion that a person of color can be German at the same time.

This scene is one of a dizzying array of sketches that combine humor and poignant realism to mirror part of the black/Afro-German experience with unsettling clarity.

"Heimat, bittersuesse Heimat" - which translates to "Homeland, Bittersweet Homeland" - blends scenes of daily life with satirical theater. The actors play themselves as well as their white fellow citizens, whose well-meaning questions and remarks often come across as ignorant, invasive and presumptuous.

Audience reactions to the racist gaffes on stage ranged from hushed embarrassment to howls of laughter.

"If you have black friends, they're just laughing," said Vanessa Rottenburg, who plays the Afro-German in the park bench scene, "because their reaction is: 'Oh yeah, I know that grandma.'" Read the full story of the Deutsch Welle here

So more info
www.amadeu-antonio.de
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