Friday, July 29, 2011
Report: Kwanzaa Millenium and the Afro-European Question
For all those reading French I recommend to check out this one year old blog edited by a young intelligent black French who calls himself Kwanzaa Millenium. I navigated through his more than 250 posts and I found elaborated analyses (sometimes too elaborated) with which I do not always agree but which give an interesting perspective. I decided to translate his post on the Afro-European identity as I think it gives a concise and clear analyses of the topic, although not always reflecting my way of seeing things. Therefore I decided to add a little comment too. You can read it all below. The Afro-European Flag is his contribution, I liked it and therefore posted it here too. Beware, generally his posts are long and complex, not always easily understood as he tries to give answers to many postcolonial issues related to blacks.
The Afro-European Question by Kwanzaa Millenium
The term Afro-European is a generic term to designate the black communities of Europe. Even before addressing the questions related to their history, their sociology and their primordial role in the African Renaissance, let’s take a look at their very nature. We can indeed distinguish several black communities in Europe. They are to be distinguished first by their diverse geographical origins (Carribean, Guyanas, Latin-America, and the diverse regions of Africa without forgetting the Afro-Turks and Afro-Abkhaz). These communities are represented in the four corners of Western-Europe, and each of the European countries has black populations with various profiles.
We notice a variety of situations too. Different generations, different legal statuses. Some have assimilated to the culture of their host country others consider themselves Africans living in Europe and some are not really African anymore but even less European. The global tendency is that of the latter. Blacks of the second or third generation who have very little links with their parents or grand-parents homeland but who do not have real affinities with their new home. And it’s therein that lies the core of the Afro-European problem.
The question is the following : Is there an Afro-European identity ? We can only answer with a No. Even on a national level we rather have to speak of a black urban Europe where African-American, Afro-Carribean and urban cultures meet in different ways whether it is in Milano, Paris or London. This chaos has to be harmonized so that the black communities of Europe can work in an orderly and synchronized fashion for the African Renaissance. Thus it seems necessary that an Afro-European identity arises.
Is this legitimate ? This idea that a black community emerges within Europe, despite its African origin, having only Europe as a common ground, can bring the situation of the white Afrikaners of South Africa into mind. They are the descendants of European exiles from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia who settled in the Southern African lands of the Khoisan following the religious tensions in Europe. (Together from their various backgrounds emerged a new Afrikaner culture – comment from the translator). If white exiles can prosper in Southern Africa without having to integrate into the local societies and without shocking the international community, there is no reason why black exiles can’t prosper in Europe, without integrating into society and without disturbing the international community.
In my commentaries I don’t want to encourage European blacks to create pioneering fronts but only to bring their communities together. This is a logic step within European integration and there is no reason that this does not apply to Europe’s blacks. (end of translation, find the original french post here)
My commentary :The comparison with the white Afrikaner people is rather problematic. It is true that out of many European cultures emerged a new Boer culture without having to really integrate with the local African cultures. But we can’t forget that it all happened within a cruel racist framework. This framework made it possible for white people to stick together and to exclude non-whites who shared their culture and language. The presence of white Europeans in South Africa led to a community of mixed race people that quickly outnumbered the whites. These mixed race communities often mixed their African heritage with their European heritage (with a greater influence from Europe) and shared quite the same culture with the white Boers who were living in rural areas. Still raxist policies created a rift between white and non-white, regardless of their common culture. While apartheid accentuated the difference between the Afrikaans-speaking coloureds and the white Boers, the new South Africa is emphasizing the common culture, language and history these peoples share. Without racism Afrikaner/Boer culture wouldn’t have been perceived as white but rather as mixed, just as Latin-American cultures today, and it would have been shared by black, coloured and whites together.
Of course if Europe persists in the exclusion of non-whites as non-Europeans, all blacks will end up becoming a separate entity within Europe, emphasizing and cherishing their common African roots. I think the other way around is more desirable, that we all, regardless of race, cherish our African and European heritage and consider mixing cultures as a default. But maybe I’m just dreamer.