|@Photo by Johny Pitts|
I came in contact with Black French militants, German anarchists, an Egyptian nomad, Russian Nazis, Cape Verdean favelas, racist football hooligans, the Black Panther party and more, all telling me a tale of an alternative Europe not readily exported to the rest of the world. My journey lead me to the fringes, culturally and geographically, and also became an investigation into my own mixed-race identity. See Facebook.com/afropeans
Text: Johny Pitts *
Marcel Proust is quoted as saying 'the true act of discovery consists not of finding new lands, but in seeing with new eyes'. I thought of that on the day I left in search of 'Black Europe', on a cold October morning. I wanted to do both at the same time though- see new places but also present an alternative view of them as that rarest of creatures- the Black European explorer.
|Johny Pitts in Moscow|
|Julia Sarr-Jamois on a rainy day in Oxford Street in London|
Still, resisting cliched depictions that ghettoised or victimised the communities I visited, I let the people I met tell the story of the continent...from Belgian-Congolese artists to Egyptian nomads, Black French militants, Swedish musicians, German anarchists, racist football hooligans, Russian Nazis, Nigerian students and more.
|" Berlin. I visited the famous artist squat Tacheles which this month [September 2012] lost it's long fought battle to stay open."|
Afro-Europe blog was one of the very few resources I had to help me navigate my way around, and became a second companion when I felt lost in the cold urban wilderness of Russia or the dangerous Banlieues of France.
|"Near Patrice Lumumba University — in Moscow, Moscow City."|
|"I spent five days alone in the Parisian banlieue of Clichy Sous Bois."|
Johny Pitts, June 2013
Johny Pitts is a writer, photographer and TV host based in London. Winner of a Decibel Penguin Prize for new writers, his short story "Audience" was included in the anthology 'The Map of Me' published by Penguin Books. In 2012 he collaborated with author Caryl Phillips on 'A Bend in The River' -a project for the BBC/Arts Council run 'Space'. in March 2013 he held his first international photography exhibition in Belgium as part of the 'What is Africa to Me Now?' conference at Liege university. As a TV host he presented for MTV UK and ITV1, and can currently be seen on the BBC.
Video: A photo-montage from my travels around Europe looking at Afropean/ Black European culture with Joy Denalane's 'Vier Frauen' (Sara Tavares, Chiwoniso, Déborah, Joy Denalane) as a the soundtrack.
* Johny Pitts was invited by Afro-Europe to write the last post for the blog. All pictures are copyrighted
A wealth of information about Afropean identity edited by Azizi Powell: What "Afro-European" & "Afropean" Mean