Thursday, September 30, 2010

Video: Xavier Naidoo and Cassandra Steen - " Wann" (Germany)



The old news is that in February this year Xavier Naidoo and Cassandra Steen won the ECHO awards 2010. The ECHO is a German music award granted every year by the Deutsche Phono-Akademie. Naidoo won in the category Best Male artist national rock/pop and Steen in the category Best Female Artist National Rock/Pop.

The good news is that I found a great video where Xavier Naidoo and Cassandra Steen performed the song " Wann" ("When") on MTV Unplugged.

Xavier Kurt Naidoo is a German singer and songwriter who's parents are from South Africa and Sri Lanka. Cassandra is also a German singer, but she is born to an African American father and a German mother. Naidoo is also co-founder of the German Anti-racism group Brothers Keepers. And Cassandra Steen and Ne-Yo sung the official song of the movie The Princess and the Frog" Never knew I needed".

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

UK MOBO Awards - Music of Black Origin Awards - Nominees 2010

Rappers Tinie Tempah and Dizzee Rascal are leading the nominations of the Music Of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards in October 2010. Tempah is also nominated for best song, best video and best newcomer. The Awards will take place in Liverpool on 20 October.

Kanya King, CEO and Founder of MOBO:
‘I am very proud of the level of talent in the UK today and extremely pleased with the dominance of MOBO music artists in the charts both here and in the US, what a massive change compared to when we started 15 years ago! In the past year alone we have seen 2 out of every 3 number 1 hits was from urban artists! To commemorate our milestone year we are launching various new activities as part of MOBO Organisation’s ongoing growth.’

For more information see www.mobo.com/

And the nominees are.....

Best Newcomer

Tinie Tempah
Professor Green
Scorcher
Labrinth
Devlin

Best UK R&B / Soul

Sade
Natalie Williams
Corinne Bailey Rae
McLean
Plan B

Best UK Hip Hop / Grime

Giggs
Professor Green
Skepta
Akala
Wiley

Best International Act

Drake
Alicia Keys
Jay Z
Rihanna
Eminem
Janelle Monae
Black Eyed Peas
Nicki Minaj
Ne-Yo
Usher
Beyonce
Jason Derulo
Lil Wayne
Travie McCoy
Trey Songz

Best Reggae

Damian Marley
Mavado
GYPTIAN
Vybz Kartel
GAPPY RANKS

Best Album

Plan B – “The Defamation of Strickland Banks”
JLS – “JLS”
N-Dubz “Against All Odds”
Chipmunk –“I Am Chipmunk”
Dizzee Rascal – “Tongue in Cheek”

Best Video - In association with MTV Base

Mark Ronson & The Business INTL ft Q-Tip & MNDR - "Bang, Bang, Bang"
Tinie Tempah ft Labrinth – "Frisky"
Tinchy Stryder – "You’re Not Alone"
Alesha Dixon – "Drummer Boy"
Dizzee Rascal – "Dirtee Disco"


Best UK Act - In association with Lebara Mobile

Tinie Tempah
Jay Sean
Tinchy Stryder
Taio Cruz
Chipmunk
N-Dubz
Giggs
JLS
Roll Deep
M.I.A
Dizzee Rascal
Alexandra Burke
Sade
Plan B
Leona Lewis

Best Song - In association with PRS for Music

Taio Cruz ft Ke$ha - "Dirty Picture"
Tinie Tempah - "Pass Out"
N-Dubz ft Mr Hudson - "Playing With Fire"
Mark Ronson & The Business INTL ft Q-Tip & MNDR - "Bang, Bang, Bang"
Professor Green ft Ed Drewett - "I Need You Tonight"

Best African Act

K'Naan
P-Square
Hip Hop Pantsula
JJC
Banky W.
Concha Buika
Mulatu Astatke
Wanlov the Kubolor
Angélique Kidjo
M3NSA
Yuri Da Cunha
Tinny
Waldemar Bastos
Staff Benda Bilili
BLK JKS


Best Jazz Act

Robert Glasper
Brad Mehldau
Empirical
Phronesis
John McLaughlin

Best Gospel

Faith Child
Guvna B
Rachel Kerr
Jake Isaac
Beverley Trotman

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Video: ‘Milk Coffee & Sugar ’ - Nominees of the French Afro-Caribbean Arts Awards


Gaël and Edgar, both members of the French Hip Hop duo Milk Coffee& Sugar, are nominees of the Afro-Caribbean Arts Awards (des Trophées des Arts Afro-Caribéens) 2010 in the music category Revelation of the year.

The duo has released the album ‘Milk Coffee & Sugar’ on May 10 2009. Proud of their African roots, they share their perspectives on their mixed society. Gaël Faye is French/Rwandese and Edgar Sekloka is of Cameroonian origin.

This is not a standard rap album, this music has flow, poetry and tranquillity. The Rap/Jazz track 'Je Vis' is a masterpiece.

Prévu Pas Prévu - Milk Coffee & Sugar



Je vis - Milk Coffee & Sugar


Album : Milk Coffee & Sugar
Label : 6D Production

Official MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/milkcoffeesugar

The Afro-Caribbean Arts Awards (des Trophées des Arts Afro-Caribéens ) - November 8 2010 in Paris

The 5th annual Afro-Caribbean Arts Awards 2010 (des Trophées des Arts Afro-Caribéens) will be held at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris France on November 8 2010. The ceremony is a tribute to the famous poet, author and politician Aimé Césaire.

The Arts Awards ceremony rewards the best artists and personalities of Francophone Caribbean, Africa and the Indian Ocean. The artists are nominated in categories music, literature and cinema.

According to the blog FMX, this 5th edition runs along side the fiftieth anniversary of African independence. Also in this edition, a connection will be made between the United States, Africa, the Caribbean and France.

The award ceremony is inspired by the BET Awards in US and the MOBO Awards in the UK.

The ceremony will be broadcasted on TV on France 2 and France Ô.

Some of the nominees in the category music are:

Artist of the year
Kolo Barst - Martinique
Kaf Malabar - Reunion
Salif Keita - Mali
Ben Oncle Soul - France

Revelation Artist of the year
Milk Coffee & Sugar - Cameroun, Rwanda and France
Arielle T - Gabon
Yaelle Trulès - Reunion
Kim - Martinique

For more information and for a complete list of the nominees and categories see the website of the Trophées des Arts Afro-Caribéens at www.lestaac.com

Monday, September 27, 2010

Exhibition: Black Britannia - Celebrating black success in the UK (London)


Irish Guard. 25 Year old Nicholas Tunge orginally from Kenya, gets himself ready for parade at Buckingham Palace.
H/t www.itzcaribbean.com

Black Britannia photographic exhibition by John Ferguson. Achievement of inspirational Black Britons celebrated at Open The Gate for Black History Month on 1st October - 22nd October 2010 in London.

Black Britannia features striking photograph portraits by talented photographer John Ferguson, Fleet Streets first black photographer in the 1980's, of some of the most well known - and less familiar - black men and women who have risen to the top of their chosen fields.

Under the title Black Britannia, the full exhibition comprises of 55 portraits of inspirational black Britons who inspired personnaly the artist in the past or who are currently making great strides in public life. Of the 55 black Britons, some well know names such as Sir Trevor McDonald, Lenny Henry, Naomi Campbell, Paul Ince, Lewis Hamilton, and others from various occupations such as head teachers to supermodels, boxers to lawyers - these are people from all walks of life.

For Black History Month 2010, John Ferguson has selected his favourites portraits of individuals to show at Open The Gate in Hackney, London. The exhibition aims to highlighting the achievements of these individuals, by promoting a positive image of black Britons and a message to today’s black youth through these high quality aesthetic portraits.

Role models

In a foreword John Ferguston explains the goal of the exhibition. "The aims of this exhibition are simple enough - to celebrate the contribution made to British culture and public life by Black people over the last few decades.

The achievements of these individuals, however, have been far from simple. Breaking through the glass ceiling that still exists for Black people in British society even today still requires persistence, ambition and guts.

In some parts of Britain, the kinds of role models young Black people grow up with are almost entirely negative. This exhibition is an attempt to redress the balance. It is very much a personal selection, but all those featured here have succeeded in their chosen professions because of unflinching determination to reach their full potential. " Read the whole foreword at www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk



Paul Ince, English football manager and first black captain of the English national team


Gina Yashere British comedian


Lewis Hamilton, British Formula One racing driver


Baroness Amos, the first black woman to sit in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom


Black History Month at Open The Gate Exhibition Dates 1st October - 22nd October 2010 in London. Please visit www.openthegate.org.uk for more information.

But! Also take a look at some great portraits of John Ferguson about 'Living with Albinism in the UK'


Victoria, part of the series of portraits on 'Living with Albinism in the UK'

See the website of John Ferguson at www.johnferguson.co.uk

Also see the website www.100greatblackbritons.com/

Friday, September 24, 2010

Nneka makes her acting debut in film "Relentless"


@Kelechi Amadi Obi: Nneka listening behind the scene
The Nigerian-German hip hop/soul singer Nneka has made her acting debut in the film "Relentless" (2010). The film is about love and self-discovery in urban Lagos. The film also stars Hatian actor Jimmy Jean Louis and Gideon Okeke.

BFI called the film of director Andy Amadi Okoroafor a visually accomplished film debut that laconically narrates a story about love and self-discovery, set in one of Africa's unforgiving capital cities.

You can see the film at BFI London Film Festival 13-28 October 2010, see more information at www.bfi.org.uk

Synopsis: Relentless is a story about love and self-discovery, set in Sierra Leone, one of Africa's unforgiving countries.




Obi, an orphan brought up by the military, becomes a peace-keeping soldier in worn torn Sierra Leone. He meets Blessing a Sierra Leonean woman and falls in love for the first time. His world and life are devastated when he finds Blessing mutilated by kid soldiers and rebels. His only option is to kill her misery.

On his return to Lagos after the war, he is an emotional autiste, sleepless and lonely. By day he runs a small security company with Ola his best friend and fellow war veteran, at night he walks the lonely streets of Lagos haunted by his past.

In one of his midnight walks, Honey, a runaway university student and high-class call girl falls into his arms, thrown down from a bridge to die by one of her clients. Obi is thrust back into reality as he once again is carrying a woman in his arms, another victim of violence, another life to save or let die.

But Honey is alive and enters Obi's world, opening up his mind again to feelings and emotions, but also ultimately leading him into committing another murder.

It's election time in Nigeria and a powerful politician claiming to be a friend to Obi's late father hands Obi's firm a lucrative contract to provide security for his candidate.

Obi and Honey, both in personal exile and struggling to get a hold on their lives are thrust into action as a course of events draws them together in the relentless and brooding city that is Lagos today.

As Obi comes to terms with his life and reality, he embarks on a journey of redemption and self re-discovery. We unveil an intimate portrait of a man battling with the scars of war.

The film explores the vast canvas that is Lagos today ‚ powerful, dangerous, alive and uncompromising; fraught with deceptions and corruption yet thriving with hope, strength and resilience.

The film is not afraid to subtly question Nigeria’s peace keeping troops in Sierra Leone, the tragic history of Biafra, the silent plague of human sacrifice, mass government inefficiency and corruption. This is also a film that celebrates Nigeria and Lagos as an African city bustling with the energy, music, vibrant, full of culture and humanity. --

About the film the director writes: "I see Relentless as a story told through innovative contemporary images. It is not a voyeuristic eye, it is participative and engaged, it is an insider perspective and the form of the images is a vital element of the film. I want the film to look under the surface, to look at Africa with a new intensity."

Website Relentless: www.clammag.com

Apart from Nneka, the film looks very promising.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Black man playing Chocolate Dream in Dutch TV Commercial


Talking about stereotypes. This is a commercial of a desert called ChocoDreams, with Dutch Television host John Williams playing the “Choco” character. The commercial was aired in 2009.

In the commercial a white lady, while eating the desert, fantasises about black John Williams. She hears her white husband talking, but pictures Williams. Suddenly on the couch her husbands asks her: “what are you thinking about?” Awakened from her chocolate dream, she replies: “something nice.”

When she sits between the John Williams double, a voice says: “Mona also has very small ChocoDreams. Small, but two times more intense.“

It’s very clear that black men are pictured as candy and as exotic. I wonder why a successful black television host felt he had to play a stereotype character in a chocolate desert commercial.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spanish Concha Buika nominated for Latin Grammys and Mobo

Spanish singer Concha Buika is nominated for the Latin Grammys for her album El Último Trago, in the category Best Traditional Tropical Album. For the album she partnered with Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés.

In April 2009, Buika and Valdés got together in Abdala studios in Havana, convened by Spanish guitarist and producer Javier Limon, to pay tribute to the legendary singer Chavela Vargas on her 90th birthday.

And she is also nominated for the UK MOBO Awards, but in the category Best African Act: Concha Buika (Equatorial Guinea). But Best African Act!?

Buika was born in Palma de Mallorca in Spain, only her parents are from Equatorial Guinea. There is nothing Equatorial Guinean about her music, her music is Flamengo/Jazz/Latin.

See "Se me hizo facil", a collaboration with Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés

Strange MOBO, in the US she is nominated for the second time as Latin artist, and in her hometown Europe she is nominated as an African Act.

Monday, September 20, 2010

German Black actors battle stereotypes

The founders of the organization Black Artists in German Film (SFD) are determined to finally see the diversity of their lives portrayed realistically. They no longer want to be consigned to portraying just DJs, models or prostitutes, wrote The German Newspaper the African Times.

Afro-German Actress Araba Walton was most recently seen in the film “Berlin Calling,” set in the techno music milieu in Germany’s capital. She played a female bouncer but not some hideous dominatrix, rather a sort of “mother figure for night owls,” as she calls it.

For the last few years, she and some of her colleagues have been working together to do just that. Their association is called “Schwarze Filmschaffende in Deutschland” (Black Artists in German Film) or SFD. It is made up of actors, screenwriters, production personnel and directors. They want to see the multi-faceted reality that they live every day reflected in the media landscape.



“In comparison with, say, America, Germany has a long way to go in that respect. Everyone will go see a Will Smith film. But studios and producers here often don’t trust that black German actors will bring audiences into theaters,” said Walton, who is co-chairwoman of SFD, along with actress Carol Campbell.

Araba Walton hopes that one day soon, the reality of her own life will be seen on screen. “My family is represented in every profession from doctor to lawyer to military officer,” she said. “When will it become commonplace to see that kind of everyday diversity in German films and television as well?”

In Spiegel Online Carol Campbell, who is one of Germany's few successful African-German actors, explains: "Either filmmakers cast black people in roles that black people wouldn't want, or they don't cast black people at all."

Campbell says she has been lucky in that "only about half" of her roles have been stereotyped -- she says she typically gets cast as the "exotic" mistress. In her experience, German filmmakers only use black characters when the plot demands it. "There always needs to be a logical explanation of why the character is black," she says. "It's always used to represent difference and never overlap, always 'this is different' and never simply 'black life in Germany.'"

Scriptwriter Ebéné: "You always have to explain why the flight attendant or the doctor is black -- they can't just happen to be black," adds. "On the other hand, you never need to explain why the asylum-seeker or prostitute is black."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Video: Soul from Holland: Ntjam Rosie

Ntjam Rosie (Dutch/ Cameroonian) will release her new album “ ELLE” for Rotterdam on October 6th in Doelen in Rotterdam (Netherlands). The national release will be on Monday October 11th 2010 in Paradiso in Amsterdam.

I was listening to Ntjam's music yesterday and I was planning of writing a post about her music that same evening. But I am glad I didn't, because Aaron Byrd of the LA radio network KCRW published a very interesting interview about her that same day.

I was listing to her great performance at TED in Rotterdam. But she was very nervous in the beginning and it showed. She sings the songs in Bulu, which is the language of the Bulu people of Cameroon.



The interview: By KCRW DJ Aaron Byrd:

A couple of years ago I was looking in our “new” section of the KCRW music library. I stumbled upon a CD that was identified as African music but I noticed that the label was based in Amsterdam. I thought, “Hmm, sounds interesting” so I pulled it out and saw the cover was pretty cool and so was the name – “Atouba” by Ntjam Rosie. Not having any idea as to what that meant or what I would hear, I gave it a listen and was instantly impressed! “Atouba” is a clever fusion of world instrumentation and contemporary soulful groove.

Ntjam has since remained on my radar and we’re happy to be debuting her new single “In Need” right here!

2009 proved to be quite a pivotal year for Ntjam, after graduating from the Codarts Conservatory with a bachelors in Latin singing. Later that year, Ntjam went on to win the Music Matters Award, granting her the title of music ambassador in Rotterdam for 2010. On that very same day, she also won the ‘MCN World Up! Award’ for most promising talent during the first edition of the Dutch World Music Day.

She returns this Fall with her sophomore release “ELLE“. I recently interviewed Ntjam and we discussed the new record, her artistic approach to music, as well her multi-national background.

Read the interview at KCRW

Ntjam Rosie On MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/ntjamrosie

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Caribbean Festival – Influences Caraïbes – Sept 29 – Oct 3 (Paris)

The festival "Influences Caraïbes" returns this fall and is celebrating its 5th anniversary from September 29 to October 3, 2010 in Paris France.

During these five festival days, musicians, visual artists and speakers will present their views, and play the music of the Caribbean.

The festival will be held on three important places of Parisian culture: L'International, le théâtre des trois baudets and Sciences Po Paris.

Artists: Mélissa Laveaux (Haiti / Canada), Licia Chery (Haiti / Switzerland), the duo Jatoba (Tony Hunter / Stéphane Castry), Edouard Glissant, and the quartet Sakesho (Martinique / Guadeloupe). And last but not least the Guadeloupean group Soft.

Main theme of this year's debate is Haiti.

See more information at http://influencescaraibes.cridupeuple.com/

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Black in Belfast and the book "Where Are You Really From?"


The book Where Are You Really From? is a compelling story of a black mixed race man who grew up in Belfast Northern Ireland.

It´s the fascinating and powerful memoir about oneman’s struggle to establish his own identity and a moving tribute to the woman who risked everything to keep her son.

Tim Brannigan was born in 1966. He grew up in a white Catholic family on the Falls Road, all the time believing he was adopted.

Tim was actually the result of an extra-marital affair between his mum, Peggy, and a black junior doctor from West Africa. To avoid scandal, Peggy told her family the baby was stillborn. Tim was then hidden in a baby home for almost a year before his mum ‘adopted’ him.

Tim learned the remarkable truth of his mother’s true identity when his mum revealed the shocking truth on the day of the Live Aid concert in 1985.

Where Are You Really From? is a moving account of racial prejudice, sectarian tensions and family secrets. It also recounts his exceptional relationship with his mother and his attempts to trace the father who abandoned him. (Source: Blackstaff Press.)

Read a long story at Timesonline

And see the book details at Blackstaffpress.com

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Black Community Northern Ireland promotes positive images of Africa


The Afro-Community Support Organisation of Northern Ireland (ACSONI) has celebrated the launch of its European Commission funded project, 'Images and Messages of Africa from an African Perspective'.

This programme is a joint initiative between the Africa Centre, Slovenia and the Africa Centre in Dublin. It is aimed at building the capacity of Africans and raising awareness of issues fuelling the migration of Africans to Europe and recognises that Northern Ireland also faces the challenges of an emerging intercultural society, there are pockets of the population which struggle with accepting people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

The Afro-Community is one of the largest Minority Ethnic Communities in Northern Ireland (1,126 people, 2001 Census, that today is estimated in excess of 6,000) while information on the life and experiences of African, Caribbean and other Afro-descendants in Northern Ireland is virtually non-existent. (Source: 4n.co.uk)

See website for more information: http://www.acsoni.org/

Monday, September 13, 2010

UK Survey: Skin Tone, Black Identity and Self Esteem


Please choose the skin colour that you would perfer to have.

What's the relationship between skin tone, black identity and self esteem? That's the question a UK research program aims to explore. People who live in the UK and are black or mixed race can take the survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com.

The survey is conducted by Akaysha Browne who is principal investigator at the Brunel University (UK).

The main aim of this study is to examine whether or not there is a relationship between one’s level of black identity, skin tone and self esteem. This study also looked at whether perceived ethnic discrimination has an influence on the way in which individuals perceive skin tone and their personal satisfaction with their own skin tone. The study also aimed to look at whether there was a gender or an age difference in the perception and satisfaction of differing skin tones in Britain.

The survey referred to some other studies on this topic:

Black Beauty: Skin Colour and body images among African American college women (1992)

Perceptions of and preferences for skin Color, Black racial identity, and self esteem among African Americans

The blacker the berry: Gender, skin tone, self esteem and self-efficacy.

Very thought provoking questionnaire. Here are some of the questions and my answers:

It is important for Black people to surround their children with Black art, music and literature.
Of course.

Because Britain is predominately white, it is important that Blacks go to White schools so that they can gain experience interacting with Whites.
I think that mixed schools are better. Having black teachers on a school is also very important.

Please choose the colour that most resembles your actual facial skin colour. It depents of the time of the year.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lura will perform at Jazz Touraine 2010 on September 17 (France)


Portuguese singer Lura will perform at French Festival Jazz Touraine 2010 on September 17

Lura, born Maria de Lurdes Assunção Pina (1975) is a singer and musician. Born in Portugal to Cape-Verdean parents, she considers herself as a Cape-Verdean.

Lura stands at the crossroads of Portuguese and Cape Verdean culture. Growing up in the Creole quarter of Lisbon, Lura was surrounded by beats from the leeward and windward islands, as well as Portugal’s pop, jazz, African music and American soul.

The song "Quebrod Nem Djosa" from the album Eclipse.



Yet she also felt intensely drawn to the African archipelago that her parents had been forced to leave, and determined to reclaim for herself. Today, all these influences are to be found on Eclipse. The album expresses love, joy and sometimes sadness. Its thirteen new tracks display incredible energy as well as Lura’s burgeoning songwriting skills. (Source 4Q)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Film "Enjoy Poverty" from Dutch artist Renzo Martens


Dutch artist and filmmaker Renzo Martens made the provocative film Enjoy Poverty, Episode III (2009). In the film Martens proposes to a group of Congolese photographers that they should take pictures of war corpses, raped women, and malnourished children--just as Western journalists do.

Martens's provocative position is that poverty is Africa's most important export product, and the poor should learn how to profit from it. ENJOY POVERTY PLEASE, reads the bright neon sign Martens shamelessly brings in to the remotest villages; it also serves as the title of the ninety-minute video he shot in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (source Arts Publication)

An interview with Martens


The interesting part is that Renzo Martens is also making money with his film, it kept him up and running for four years. When asked in an interview if he had shared the money with the poor people in Congo he replied that it was a "private" matter and not really relevant.

To be honest, I really don't know what to make of this film. Is it an eye opener, or is it just a cheap attempt of a filmmaker to exploit poverty?

Renzo Martens is exhibiting in the temporary program of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, which runs from 28 August 2010 – 9 January 2011.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Jenny Alpha, an icon of French Caribbean culture dies at 100

Martinican actress and singer Jenny Alpha (1910-2010), a leading exponent of Creole culture, died Wednesday, September 8, at the age of 100.

Her fight for recognition of Creole culture and her incredible talent as an actress and singer were celebrated with a Honour Trophy award on September 21, 2009 at the 4th Awards of the French “Trophées des Arts Afro-Caribéens”.

An icon of Martinique has gone to join her old friends, Duke Ellington, Aime Cesaire, Josephine Baker, and many others.

The blog Repeating Islands wrote: The announcement of her death has prompted many reactions in France and overseas. Overseas Minister Marie-Luce Penchard praised the “exceptional and talented woman” that Jenny Alpha has been; ministerial delegate



Patrick Karam recalled the “talent and elegance of one of the greatest overseas artists of the 20th century.” Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, traveling to the Caribbean, paid tribute to “a pioneer of the arts” who “made her life a struggle for black women to have their full rights.”

Jean-François Lamour and Philippe Goujon, deputies from the 15th arrondissement, where the actress lived, expressed that she “embodied with panache the richness of French cultural life of the 20th century, at the crossroads of multiple influences.” And President of the General Council of Martinique Claude Lise praised “the exceptional trajectory of an artist of outstanding standards” with a “talent that overcame all difficulties and all prejudices.” Read more here

A child of the diaspora has died. Jenny Alpha, rest in peace.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sweden's First Black Prime Minister?

Sweden's Minister of integration Nyamko Ana Sabuni (1969), currently serving as Swedish Minister for Integration and Gender Equality , wants to become Prime Minister of Sweden. But does she really have chance to become the female Barack Obama of Europe, or is it just a political daydream?

The Times wrote about her: Ms Sabuni has never made any secret of her ambition to be Sweden’s first black Prime Minister. Some see parallels between her and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali refugee who renounced Islam, became a Dutch MP and spoke out against the religion, only to relocate in the US after a row about her asylum application.

“We are compared because we are both young, we are both black, we are both politicians,” Ms Sabuni said. “The mission of Ayaan is to reform Islam. My mission is not to reform Islam, my mission is to say that certain traditions are unacceptable. ” Read: Young, black, Swedish – the minister for controversy.



On Zuseeko's official Blog I read a very interesting opinion about Sabuni and her ambition. You can read part of it below.


Despite the recent Increase in "White Power" Groups and outright Violation of Civil Rights in the Scandinavian country. This might come as a surprise to you because you probably think Sweden would be one of the last countries in Europe to have a person of African descent occupy the highest office in the land - Office of the Prime Minister. You're wrong!

It is worth mentioning that despite Sweden's generosity, there is a glass ceiling all across the continent. The odds of a person of "color" becoming Sweden's prime minister anytime soon are slim, but make no mistake - Sabuni might as well be setting the stage. When Barack Obama claimed victory in November 2008, he said his presence on the stage was unlikely and that in no other country on Earth is his story even possible. Could this be true? Is it impossible for a person of African descent to be in the realm of political power in a country in Europe? Read more on Zuseeko's official Blog


It is interesting that she is compared with Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

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)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Nikyatu Jusu- Winner of the Shadow And Act Filmmaker Challenge


Under the Mush interview with Nikyatu Jusu
The winner of the Shadow And Act $3300 Filmmaker Challenge is Nikyatu Jusu, and her screenplay tentatively titled Black Swan Theory. See the video for a recent Under the Mush interview with Nikyatu.

About Nikyatu Jusu, in her own words: “Originally bred in Atlanta, Georgia to Sierra Leonean parents, Writer/Director Nikyatu Jusu is an MFA candidate at New York University’s graduate film program. Her second short film, African Booty Scratcher garnered her a Director’s Guild Honorable Mention, HBO Short Film Award and JT3 Artist Award.

Nikyatu is currently touring the festival circuit with her thesis film, Say Grace Before Drowning; the screenplay alone earned her a Spike Lee Scholarship and a Princess Grace Foundation-US Graduate Film Scholarship. Because she has a preoccupation with foreigners, damaged women and the contradictory nature of humanity, these themes presently permeate her work.”

About the contest: The Shadow And Act Filmmaker Challenge is a contest of the US black Film and Media Blog Shadow and Act. Every 3 to 4 months, A MINIMUM of $1,200 will go towards the funding of a 3 to 10 minute short film by a filmmaker of African descent, with a story about people of African descent, based on their own original idea.

The contest is only open to US filmmakers, but it's likely they will expand to other regions over time. Some international donations may speed up the process of course. Read more here.

The Screenplay

The Black Swan Theory synopsis: A psychiatric casualty of war, recently returned to the US, Sonya’s imagined sense of normalcy crumbles around her; she must hunt or become the hunted.

About the screenplay she explains: “I’m always intrigued with black women in settings that are typically not seen as conducive to their presence: for instance a former US Soldier struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We rarely, if ever, hear about the experiences of black women who have fought for this country and I thought it would be interesting to explore such a character in the context of an attempted return to normalcy–when normalcy is no longer definable. I hope to convey a woman battling both her own private demons and the demons of war. I’m also very influenced by graphic novels and have been craving a black female heroine.”

Read more about her film and the Shadow And Act Black Filmmaker Challenge here.

See also the 2010 Shadow And Act Black Filmmakers To Watch list, here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Video: Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Ensemble Feat Bilal – "Someday We’ll All Be Free"


I think I am the last in Europe who has posted this video: Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Ensemble Feat Bilal – ‘Someday We’ll All Be Free’ from Donny Hathway. I saw this great performance on a Dutch and an English music blog. So I jacked it from the London based music blog http://pinboardblog.com. A great blog by the way!

About the video they wrote: "The city of Los Angeles was blessed with a free concert from the Miguel Artwood-Ferguson Ensemble on July 23rd 2010. Recently known for his work on Mochilla’s “Suite for Ma Dukes” project, where he arranged and conducted music from the late, great J.Dilla for a full orchestra. Ferguson assembled an all-star cast of musicians and special guests featuring artists such as Flying Lotus, Aloe Blacc, Bilal, Stephen ‘Thudercat’ Bruner, Chris ‘Daddy’ Dane and many more for a special evening at the Grand Performance California Plaza.

The video up top and the download below is of an amazing arrangement from Miguel Atwood-Ferguson of Donny Hathaway’s CLASSIC ‘Someday We’ll All Be Free’ featuring Bilal on vocals. Yea – you read right – Bilal singing Donny Hathway with a full on Orchestra."

Iris Kensmil exhibits Maroon history at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam


Photo and Copyright Iris Kensmil: Exhibition of Iris Kensmil in the Stedelijk museum
Iris Kensmil is one of the artists who is selected to exhibit in the temporary opened Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

The work she exhibits in the Stedelijk is inspired by Adjankoeso, the village head of a group of Surinamese Maroons in the early 20th century. Adjankoeso wrote a letter to the secretary of the League of Nations in which he expressed his joy over the end of World War I.

The Stedelijk Museum has one of the richest modern art collections in the world. The exhibition is named The Temporary Stedelijk at the Stedelijk Museum. It's temporarily because the museum has been closed for renovations for years. Exhibition date: 28 August 2010 – 9 January 2011.

For this special occasion the museum comes out with two exhibitions: Taking Place and Monumentalisme. Iris Kensmil exhibits her work together with 18 other artists in Monumentalisme. In this exhibition artists reflect on history and identity.

These themes aren’t new to Kensmil. Topics such as negritude, the African Diaspora, and the position of black people in the society are key elements of her work.

Kensmil (1970) was born in the Netherlands and is from Surinamese Origin. She has won several scholarships, and has just returned from a long stay in New York.

In the newspaper Parool Kensmil explains why colour is so important in her work: "There is a very large group of Surinamese and Antilleans, and they are part of this society. I suppose that as white person you think: where do these people come from?"

Read the Dutch the article here.

A video of the opening of the exhibit.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The African Renaissance Monument. Some thoughts.


In April of this year the big monument of African Renaissance was inaugurated in Dakar, Senegal with the presence of many African leaders. Although this is not an AfroEuropean issue as such I’d like to express my opinion on this.

According to Senegalese President Wade, the initiative taker of this project, this is not just a Senegalese or African monument, but it also represents the people of the African diaspora all over the world. This means that this monument is symbol uniting all peoples of African descent.

The statue is 49m high set on a 100m high hill in the Ouakam suburb of Dakar. Thus being bigger and higher than New York’s statue of Liberty (46m high on a pedestal of 47m, total 93m) it now dominates Dakar’s skyline. Of course the building of such a huge monument in a poor country erases doubt and criticism. Even the way how the project took off makes one wonder who will really profit of this massive monument.

It was first and for all build for the 50th anniversary of independence of most African nations. The inauguration was set during Senegal’s independence ceremony but was meant as reaching to the whole continent. Many African leaders were present, and even Jesse Jackson came to give a speech (I wonder how much he got paid for this). Senegal is one of black Africa’s nations to have been first in touch with the European and Arab worlds and was a main contributor of slaves during the 5 centuries of AfroEuropean colonial ‘exchange’. In this sense Dakar may be the right place for such a monument. Below I will go deeper into the meaning of and the criticisms surrounding this monument.

Design
The monument was officially designed by President Wade himself. But Ousmane Sow (Link in French), a famous Senegales sculptor, pretends to have designed it. Wade admitted that ‘an artist’ came up with the idea but that he worked it out. He states he cannot remember who that artist was, but that he is the final and genuine producer of the concept.

It depicts an African family. A gigantic father holding his child on his left arm and behind him a woman, his right arm around her waist. The child (a boy?) is resolutely pointing his finger West. This pointing is a pointing to the future and pointing to the African diaspora. I don’t want to speculate about the meaning of art, or the meaning of the child who points West. I’ll leave this for personal discussions and thoughts.

From a gender perspective the whole statue is rather problematic. It is obviously male-centered and depicts women as secondary to men. I think that this is a lost chance, considering that women in many post-war African countries play a central role in the rebuilding and future of their country. Apparently not for Wade.
Another detail that bothers me is the woman’s hair. She has straight hair in the wind. While many African women straighten their hair with chemicals it is an illusion to have it waving in the wind such as seen here. Straightened hair is too dry to move like that in the wind. Having put a woman with cornrows or other braids or even an afro would have been much more African I think. It’s true that her hair could be interpreted as thin dreadlocks, a hair style very uncommon among African women in Africa, but becoming more and more normal in the African diaspora.

Intellectual profit and financial profit
President Wade, as conceiver of the monument, will get 35% of all profits that this monument generates. This is highly problematic because he didn’t conceive this monument in his free time as a private person, but as a president. A president cannot claim copyright over ideas conceived as function of his public office. In this sense all he produces for the nation is property of the state and not his personal property. Let’s compare it to what every employee produces within a company; it is owned by the company and not by the person who produced it.

Furthermore Wade is not the benefactor of this project, it was financed by the Senegalese state and sponsored by a private businessman. The building of the statue would have cost around US$ 27 million, and was paid in kind with land. Wade seems to not only want to put a monument that will outlast his life, not financed with his money he still wants to get money out of it.

Construction
The construction of the monument was carried out by a North Korean construction company, Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies. Even without taking into consideration the problematic reputation of North Korea and its leaders, I think it is a shame that the work hasn’t been carried out by Africans themselves. The African continent is full of able and unemployed people who would have loved to contribute to such a project. Instead North-Korean workers and engineers (underpaid?) were imported to Dakar to build it. I think this is another lost chance.

Conclusion
In a way I am happy that this monument has been build. Half a century after the major wave of independence on the African continent such a symbolic statement might be not really necessary but certainly welcome. I don’t really care that it looks like a Stalinist monument, that’s not really the matter here. It is also without any doubt that this monument will contribute to tourism in Senegal and West-Africa, many ambulant merchants, taxi drivers and local stores will benefit of it.

Still, I am sad that so many chances have been missed and that it is strained with financial scandal. It’s true that any big project, in any country in the world would have been a point of controversy. Even New York’s Statue of Liberty was not void of controversy when planned and build. I just hope that the African Renaissance Monument can be a symbol of African unity rather than political greed and that it will get a bright future in the history of Africa and its diaspora. Only the future will tell.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival - September 3- 4 2010

For the first time the North Sea Jazz Festival will have an edition on the island of Curaçao, the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival

The International Dutch version of the festival is held annually in the city of Rotterdam, and is also the largest indoor jazz festival in the World.

The Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival will be held on September 3 and 4 2010 in the World Trade Center on the island. According to the newspaper AD, the Caribbean version of the jazz festival must become the biggest musical and tourist event of the island’s history.

The program includes, among others, Lionel Richie, John Legend, Sergio Mendes George Benson and Luis Enrique.



http://www.curacaonorthseajazz.com

France: Racism and Politics

"Nowadays in France, like in Africa, when politicians need a boost in popularity or want to cast a wider political net, they make an appeal into the most primal instincts of the voters: ethnic identity", writes Global Voice contributor Abdoulaye Bah about French president Sarkozy.

In a very interesting post he analyses the situation of ethnic minorities in France, and the response to the recent riots in Grenoble.

In his story Bah quotes The blog lalignegenerale about Sarkozy's proposol that the nationality be revoked for the people of foreign origins when attempting to take the lives of a policeman, gendarme or any representative of the public authority.

« I won't dwell on the ubuesque notion of ”of foreign origin”. Because when exactly does “foreign origin” start? In the spirit of this measure, how many generations have to had passed on before one is protected from losing its citizenship? Does the president have criteria he'd like offer? Maybe a (DNA) Test ? And if by any chance the members of the Constitutional Council, State Coucil or the parliament were to approve of this inane proposition, what would then become of the no-longer citizens? Since they don't have a substitute nationality, what kind of legal vacuum would then fall into ? Former Frenchmen? Stateless people? As the president put it, since the “machine that provides nationality no longer works”, will it now produce stateless citizens?

The worst part is that at the end of the day, if this proposal is a serious one and not just some political fronting to win back some votes from Marine Le Pen ( ed. note: far right leader), then it would contradict three sacred axioms engraved in the founding texts of our republic: the Program of the National Council of the Resistance in May 15 1944, the Declaration of the Human Rights in 1948 and the Constitution of 1958.


As soon as those measures were announced, the daily newspaper le Figaro published an opinion poll conducted by IFOP that proclaimed the results he was hoping to see: that the majority of the French people shared his views on domestic security.

Read full story here

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Staged Reading: The Most Unsatisfied Town - A play based on the Oury Jalloh Case (Germany)


H/t Tina Bach
The following video has been produced by Thabo Thindi, of http://jozi.tv about the staged reading of Amy Evan's play "The most unsatisfied Town", premiered on Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICI). The play is based on the widely mediatised case of the Sierra Leonean refugee Oury Jalloh who burned to death while shackled to the floor of a Dessau (Germany) jail cell. (Source: Africavenir)

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