Sunday, September 30, 2012
African homecoming: A way of healing or just diasporic dreaming?
Can Black people of the 'old' diaspora still make the connection with Africa, or is it just unrealistic day dreaming? In August producer and activist Bamba Nazar organised the event “African Homecoming” in Amsterdam, dedicated to the bridging between Africa and the diaspora. He was triggered by his journey to the slave island of Gorée in Senegal. But Dutch cultural critic and blogger Plug is skeptic about this new Pan-Africanisme.
He feels the gap between black Europeans and Africans has become too wide. By quoting Ama van Dantzig (Ghanian) he explained that, "to Ghanaians there’s very little difference between White Westerners and African Americans, or Black Europeans."
But to Bamba Nazar, who was born in Amsterdam, has lived in Suriname and grew up in New York as a teenager, the connection with Africa is important. In an interview with Tolhuistuin he talked about his personal homecoming. “As a person of African descent, I was always busy with the question, where do I come from. As a child I was fascinated by culture and history. The hip hop scene in 1988 in New York had a big impact on me. Stetsasonic, Public Enemy, Lakim Shabazz, Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah ... At that time hip hop forced you to think, to read books, it was not like today. Back then you'd better talk some sense to earn your stripes. Hiphop was about our collective African roots, the Islam and history. Inspired by hip-hop, I started researching the continent and traveled to the continent. Egypt, Senegal, Gambia, Tanzania and Zanzibar were my personal 'African Homecoming’, but I didn’t share them with a large audience." As for connection: "The Pan-African identity is an important theme in African Homecoming: an identity that unites all Africans, whether they live in or outside the continent." Read full interview in Dutch here
Dutch (Caribbean) blogger and cultural critic ‘Plug’, who attended the event, had a different perspective. He feels those diasporic returns are romanticized triumphant homecomings that have been pre-destined from the moment of departure. Plug: "Here we were talking about a possible return to Africa, whether actual or philosophical, while asylum seekers from countries in Africa are risking life and limb to get to European soil. Most of them end up languishing in State sponsored detention camps. Those who live here undocumented live under the constant threat of being rounded up and imprisoned in order to keep 'us' safe.”
"For those of us living “here,” whether we like it or not, we are Europeans. I grew up within a European context. I have made friends, defined myself, tried to reinvent myself and struggled with myself within a European context."
He concludes: "How can African descended folks 'here' build deep relationships of solidarity with African descended peoples over 'there' when opportunities to meet them are rare, or near impossible, due to travel restrictions? How can we build relationships of solidarity across differences and mutually incomprehensible languages? These factors hamper the free exchange of information, and silence those voices that do not have access to computers/the Internet and that are not familiar with English/post-colonial terms." Read the full story at Plug.