Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Theatre: HUID! (SKIN!) – “ We are not black, we are brown” (Netherlands)

HUID! (SKIN!) is the title of the latest play of Dutch Antillean director/actor Raymi Sambo.

Premiere on Saterday October 2nd 2010 in Theater aan het Spui, The Hague (Netherlands), 8.30 pm.

It’s a play about discrimination (or Colourism) among Antilleans. Because what if you don’t have the good nose, the good hair and if you have not inherited the lightest skin colour of the family? SKIN! is also about the universal quest of what's beneath your skin. Who you are regardless of your colour, origin and gender. But, how do you address the issue?

“ We are not black, we are brown”

Synopsis: On his twenty-first birthday Steve, the loved one of a Dutch Antillean family, rebels against the norms of the family. For his dominating mother black is equal to weak, lazy, poor, ugly and aggressive. Steve no longer wants to deny his colour and background. He invites, as a surprise, a guest for the traditional family dinner on his birthday. Thus forcing all his family members to show their colours. His action unleashes more emotions than he had imagined.

HUID! With Raymi Sambo, Everon Jackson Hooi, John Serkei, Urmie Plein, Jaike Belfor, and Naomi Mac-Donald

More information: www.mojotheater.nl/

I must admit that in my Creole family skin colour and “good” hair is hardly debated. Maybe I will drop the bomb at my family diner next time, and ask some family members: “How does it feel to be light-skinned? And drop the we-are-all-from-Africa nonsense.”

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Video: Wyclef Jean performing "Immigrant" on Def Poetry

Today Wyclef Jean wants to be the President of Haiti, but in 1983 Wyclef came to the US as Haitian immigrant. In a wonderful performance in the show Def Poetry in 2005 he talks about this experience and about his love for his country Haiti. To quote him "To live for yourself is to live selfishly to live for others is to live eternally."

So I hope that he will get a change to become the President of Haiti.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Video: Floetry performing Say Yes - Marsha Ambrosius (UK)

Floetry was an English R&B duo comprising Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart. The group recorded two studio albums, one live album, and sold over 800,000 records worldwide. The song "Say Yes" was one of the tracks of their first album in 2002.

But Marsha Ambrosius returns with a debut Solo Album which is set on October 26th 2010. Just recently she released her single 'Hope She Cheats on You (With a Basketball Player)'. Read more here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

New project: Blackgermany.org

H/t Black in NRW.

Black Germany is a new art project which will be a extension to the existing structure of forums, blogs and journals. Main goal is to present the AfroGerman culture from different perspectives.

It's a very new project, so it's in the start-up phase. Interesting detail is their brainstorm session of black Germany, see it here

But there is more good news. They are also planning an English site for non-German readers.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Notting Hill Carnival 2010 - August 29 -30

This weekend the Notting Hill Carnival, Sunday 29 August 2010 to Monday 30 August 2010 in West london.

Held each August Bank Holiday since 1966, the Notting Hill Carnival is the largest festival celebration of its kind in Europe. Every year the streets of West London come alive, with the sounds and smells of Europe's biggest street festival. Twenty miles of vibrant colourful costumes surround over 40 static sound systems, hundreds of Caribbean food stalls, over 40,000 volunteers and over 1 million Notting Hill carnival revellers.

WinkBall at The Notting Hill Carnival 2009

More information http://www.nottinghill-carnival.co.uk/

And more videos on http://www.winkballcarnival.com/

Monday, August 23, 2010

Slavery Remembrance Day (UNESCO) - 23 August 2010

Video of the opening of the exhibit at the South Gallery of the UN Headquarters in New York on March 24 2010
Slavery Remembrance Day - 23 August 2010 (UNESCO)

This year the United Nations celebrated the third commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. This year's commemoration included an art exhibit and was dedicated to the people of Haiti. The video is of the Commemoration of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade of the UN on 25 March.

Slavery Remembrance Day falls on the anniversary of an uprising of enslaved Africans on the island of Saint Domingue (modern Haiti) on 23 August 1791.

The date has been designated by UNESCO as Slavery Remembrance Day, a reminder that enslaved Africans were the main agents of their own liberation.

For more information http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ism/

A History of Black people in Europe

It is generally known that black people have been residing in European countries since the early colonial times. But even before the 15th century and during Roman times, a time when colour of skin still wasn’t a racist stigma but just another physical feature, black people lived in Europe. Remains of a man with black African features were found in England recently, dating his life back to the 13th century. Read this article for more info.

Besides that, facts have been found of black people living in different parts of Europe, although I don’t want to overstate their presence or influence. But it is generally known that during the Muslim era of the Iberian Peninsula (from the 8th century AD until the 15th century AD) people with dark skin were part of daily live. The Muslims who invaded Spain and Portugal around 700 AD were a mixture of black and dark people from North-Africa. They were often referred to as Maures, wrote about and painted, way before the dehumanization of black people started.

I added above Jan Mostaert's portrait of a nobleman, guest of the Queen of Austria. This painting dates back to the early 1500's in what we now call Belgium, then part of the Duchy of Brabant. There is no doubt this man has African roots while being a respected member of European culture. We can only guess that this man is of Maure origin, i.e. a Muslim having converted to Christianity or even the second or third generation of converts.

Below I will go deeper into the subject. I will give you some internet links, book references and a list of early Europeans of African descent, each time linked to their wiki page. If you know more about the subject I invite you to add information in a comment.

Al Andalus

Many blacks who were Muslims converted to Christianity after the emirate of Al Andalus was abolished (end of 15th century). But the Reconquista took centuries (8th-15th century) and during those times black people gradually integrated the Christian and Northern European world. Among them were noble men and scholars. The negative image of blacks, as natural slaves, only gained prominence in the 18th century when the transatlantic slave trade became a central piece of European economical activity and later when European nation-states were being established.

Slavery and racism

Of course slavery existed before racism. In the 15th century blacks and whites were enslaved indiscriminately. Blacks in the America’s could become free men and own their own slaves and land (which was rather common in colonial Brazil for instance). It is only in later years that being black made you a slave forever and by birth, or at least a kind of human always inferior to white people. This racial perspective on identity and humanity only gained authority in later modern times. Read more on the subject here.

Coat of Arms

Black people were part of European imagination and reality from very early times. Read more here and here. We can say with certainty that there were black people in Europe before that white people reached the area south of the Sahara. North Africa, Iberia and the Middle East were the crossroad where black and white intermingled. In Europe references to blacks was a positive sign of strength and military power. Still today you can find many blacks in coat of arms for towns all over Europe, central, south and north, dating back to the middle ages.

Some Literature

After the 15th century, Portugal entered an intense relationship with African kingdoms in the Gulf of Guinea and the Congo coasts. Slave trade (although not based on race) and exchange between the kings led to the presence of Europeans on the West- and Central African shores, just as Africans in Portugal. Accounts from those days tell us that the sight of black people in the streets of Lisbon wasn’t a rarity during the Middle Ages, more on the contrary. I want to refer to following books for those who want to know more about this topic:
Black Africans in Renaissance Europe, Thomas Foster Earle,K. J. P. Lowe(eds.)
Africa's discovery of Europe, David Northrup

As a consequence of the slave trade free blacks also arrived in Europe between the 16th and 19th century. Blacks lived in London, Liverpool, Lisbon, Seville, … during the 17th and 18th century. Other historical books with scientific authority give you in depth knowledge of this:
Hugh Thomas’s ‘The Slave Trade’
Ivan Van Sertima’s ‘African Presence in Early Europe’
All this publications teach us something about this hidden part of European history.

Leo Africanus

Leo Africanus is often stated as one of these black and European noble men and scholars. But it is rather speculation to state if he was black or white. He was definitely a Maure but as racism, whiteness and blackness were unknown concepts as we know it today, we can’t know his ‘race’ for sure. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Even very common socio-cultural concepts of today such as ‘French’, ‘German’ or ‘English’ didn’t exist in those days such that it would be silly to argue whether historical figures of those days were German or French. Same thing is valid for the white and black race as defined today.

Famous Europeans with African ancestry (1500-1900)

Below I will list some of the most famous figures of European modern history (after 1500) who happened to be black or have African ancestry, but were integral parts of European (high) society. Most of the time the African ancestry of these people is ignored by history books although acknowledged and accepted by most history scholars. I think it throws a new light on the concepts of race and the meaning of blackness in the 21st century.

Alessandro ‘il Moro’ de Medici 1510-1537 
Duke of Florence

Juan Latino 1594 - 1597

A poem of the Spanish Black professor at the University of Granada during the sixteenth century.

Abram Petrovich Ganibal 1696-1781

Major-general, military engineer, governor of Reval and nobleman of the Russian Empire

Anton Wilhelm Amo 1700-1775

German Philosopher

Ignatius Sancho 1729–1780

Author and abolitionist, UK

Olaudah Equiano a.k.a. Gustavus Vassa 1745-1797 Author and abolitionist, UK

Chevalier de Saint Georges 1745-1799 A famous musican, composer and swardsman of his times
Listen to his music here.

Thomas Alexandre Dumas 1762-1806 A general of the French Revolution

George Polgreen Bridgetower 1780-1860 Musician and composer
Listen and watch here

Alexandre Pushkin 1799-1837

Famous author, great-grandson of Abraham Petrovich Ganibal


On  Pushkin’s Blackness

Morgan Jerkins writes on 'Alexander Pushkin’s Blackness', "Pushkin was born in 1799 and although he was an aristocrat, he was proud of his Blackness. In ‘Eugene Onegin’, he writes."

    It’s time to drop astern the shape
    of the dull shores of my disfavour,
    and there, beneath your noonday sky,
    my Africa, where waves break high,
    to mourn for Russia’s gloomy savour,
    land where I learned to love and weep,
    land where my heart is buried deep. "

For more on Pushkin see Afrorepublic 

Alexandre Dumas 1802-1870
French author of the world famous tale of ‘The Three Musketeers’, Thomas Alexandre Dumas’s son

John Archer 1863-1931
Presumably UK’s first black mayor, political activist

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor 1875-1912 Musician and composer
Listen to his music here


If you're interested in Black Europe today, see the stories of young Afro-Europeans in the UK, France, The Netherlands and Italy

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Afrikanische Kultur Fest (African Culture Festival) in Frankfurt - 20 - 22 August

Afrikanische Kulturfest (African Culture Festival) in Solmspark Rödelheim in Frankfurt Germany - August 20 – 22. Free entrance!

In Commemoration of Enslavement and Colonialism and Their Impact on People of African descent

On the coming weekend, from August 20-22, the 5th African Cultural Festival is going to take place in Frankfurt. The event has – like every year - been organized by the Senegalese Association (www.senegal-verein.de). At the center of the 2010 event is the commemoration of the impact enslavement and colonialism had on the African continent.

Considering that already in February 2010 a historic tribunal had taken place in Berlin to address the 125th Berlin Afrika Konferenz and the subject of reparations (http://www.tribunal-afrikakonferenz-berlin.org/), it can be said that Germany in this year has seen more events – organized by the African Diaspora - than ever before that deal with the subject matters of enslavement and colonialism and its relevancy in Black history.

The Senegalese Association in Frankfurt chose the statement „Forgive but don’t forget“ for the festival to underline the importance they see in speaking and informing about the impact hundreds of years of enslavement and the related policies of Europe had and still have on Africa and its Diaspora.

Therefore, at the end of the opening day on Friday, a discussion round with special guests will look at the question what 50 years of ‘Independence’ mean for African countries today and how it is related to the long journey from enslavement to political emancipation. Participants will discuss how the African – European relationship has developed over time and which topics concerning those two continents are at the forefront today.

The island Gorée, located at the coast of Senegal, is a worldwide known place which is representative for the cruel experiences African people went through when they were enslaved and taken from the African continent to the Americas or Europe. Goree Island is on the west coast of Africa at the nearest point on the continent to the Americas.

Today, the island is a famous tourist attraction which attracts every year many visitors wanting to inform themselves about the history and realities of African people’s enslavement. The organizers of the African Festival in Frankfurt invited Eloy Coly, the curator of Gorée, to Frankfurt to introduce to the audience the history of the place via a multimedia presentation.

The opening ceremony of the African Festival takes place on Friday, 18:30 p.m., at Alexanderstraße 37, 60489 Frankfurt am Main.
On Saturday and Sunday the program will continue at the nearby Solmspark close to Alexanderstrasse.

For more information

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sharing the AfroEuropean Experience. My visit to the 25th yearly Bundestreffen in Germany.

Last weekend I was in Germany. ISD (Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland – Intiative Black People in Germany) organized the Bundestreffen for the 25th time in a row. This means 25 years of black German coming together, 25 years of theater, dance, workshops, debates, presentations, films, music, knowledge sharing, book selling and more. All focused around the black German experience, and actually by extension, the experience of being black in the Western world. The Bundestreffen doesn’t seem to be on its way out, it is alive and kicking and apparently there to stay.

After knowing it for years I wanted to experience it for myself and took off to Helmarshausen, a little village in Hessen, in the geographical heart of Germany. I am not German but I felt that I could relate to this community being African and European at the same time. And checking googlemaps I realized it wasn’t even that far, just a 4.30 hours drive.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Does the UK anti-knife crime video ‘Choose a Different Ending’ solves the problem?

Almost four London teenagers a day are victims of knife violence. And more than seven youngsters are robbed at knifepoint in the capital every day according to UK Home Office statistics.

to combat these numbers the London's Metropolitan Police are urging teenage boys to "choose a different ending" in an interactive publicity campaign running on YouTube. The campaign was launched a year ago and had 2.7 million net views since its launch on 6th July 2009.

Great idea, but does it really solve the problem?

I remember when I moved to more the urban area of Amsterdam, that I asked my street wise black neighbour if he had any “street tips” for me. The first thing he told me was: “if you think of carrying a weapon, remember that if you pull it, you also have to use it. And it doesn’t matter whether it's a screwdriver or even a pen. Because If you don’t use it, then you will be in deep trouble.” Thanks to him I never carried a weapon.

Luckily I never even came close to a situation where I had to defend myself. It was the power of media indoctrination that made me contemplate the idea.

But I know that the situation in London is totally incomparable with my situation back then. The knife violence in London is dramatic.

Although I understand that an interactive YouTube video is just another tool to raise awareness, I don’t believe it will solve the problem. But what does?

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see that a lot of black urban communities seem have similar problems. Teenage pregnancies, absentee fathers, educational problems and crime, are problem we have in the UK, the Netherlands, France, and in the USA.

And of course I don’t have the solution to these very complex problems. But there’s one thing I’ve learned: black people need each other.

My neighbour thought me an important communication lesson: if you show it, you have use it. I learned him how to use the computer I used for my study, and what he could to do to learn more about it. He changed my life, and maybe even saved it. I changed his life, because he took the computer courses, and finally went on working for a mayor consulting firm as a computer expert. Isn’t this just a peer to peer thing?

I know I am pretty naïve, but sometimes the power of naivety works. That high powered media campaign "choose a different ending" in the UK, will most certainly work. But that one minute free lecture of my neighbour did it for me.

Some interesting links:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Video: Last day at the Kwakoe festival in Amsterdam

Some scenes of the last day at Kwakoe summer festival in Amsterdam. The festival is one the biggest multicultural events in the Netherlands.

In the video most people say they enjoyed it, and that they loved the food and the atmosphere. There is also the election of little Miss Kwakoe.

Because the video is made for a Surinamese web channel, most of the interviewed people are Surinamese.

Video: Erik performing "Charlo" - Concert Zandolive France O

French singer Erik performing the song "Charlo" from his album Chaye Kow, in the program Zandolive on the channel France O.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What's wrong with Tyler Perry?

The film of American Actor/playwright Tyler Perry "Why Did I Get Married Too?" receives its UK theatrical release on 3rd September 2010.

According to the website Catch a Vibe, Tyler Perry wants to introduce his brand to UK Audiences. In May he and Janet Jackson attended a special screening of the film “Why Did I Get Married Too?” at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton (London).

In the US Perry has received harsh criticism for his work with some citing that his material reinforces negative stereotypes of African Americans. One of his biggest criticasters is director Spike Lee. Lee even called Perry's shows "Coonery Buffoonery". According to the blog Shadow and Act Tyler Perry is still upset over Spike Lee’s Criticisms.

But who is Tyler Perry? Tyler Perry is an American actor, director, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and author. He is famous for his theatre plays and his "controversial" film "Aunt Madea goes to jail". Perry was also involved in the film "Precious". According to wikipedia, in 2009, Perry was ranked by Forbes magazine as the sixth highest-paid man in Hollywood. As of July 2009, Perry's films had grossed nearly $400 million worldwide.

I don't know if Spike Lee is right about Tyler Perry, so maybe I will rent a few films to get a better picture.

Trailer "Why Did I Get Married Too?"

Ant Media goes to jail

Madea Imitates Patti Labelle (Madea Goes To Jail) - Theatre

Spike Lee criticises Tyler Perry

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Video: Arrested Development - "Greener"

A great video from the band Arrested Development. Greener is a track about global warming, climate crisis and the need to be Greener. It's a track from Arrested Development’s new album “Strong.” www.arresteddevelopmentmusic.com/

Travelling to Space from the island of Curaçao

As of January 1, 2014 the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao will be the home of the Caribbean Space Port called Space Experience Curaçao (SXC).

According to the website and the latest information, Space Experience Curaçao (SXC) envisions realizing a Commercial Space Line and Space Port on Curaçao International Airport. SXC will serve both the commercial needs of everyone who wants to travel into space, as well as the needs for scientific research and space training. Bringing small satellites into orbit in a flexible way will follow soon while in the somewhat longer term very fast orbital travel to distant parts of our world is within reach.

On July 23 a Letter of Intent between Curaçao Airport Holding N.V. and Space Experience Curaçao B.V. has been signed.

See Virgin Galactic

According to the website, the spaceport location at Curacao offers all the options of a complete luxurious holiday package including a suborbital spaceflight for initially the high-end market (HNWIs). The combination of spaceflight, luxury beach hotels, resorts and activities in a tropical climate is seen as the ideal new holiday for the relatively wealthy people of the world.

Interesting development. But what will happened to the real estate prises? They are already sky high at the moment. Most students who return to Curacao to starts their professional careers can only afford houses at the rural part of the Island.

And I hope that Space Experience Curaçao will not only invest in the Space Port, but will also set up and sponsor science education programs for the local schools and schools in the region.

For more information:


Monday, August 9, 2010

Antonio Guzman's search for his African ancestry + AfroLatinos

I have posted a few videos about Guzman's search of the African gene - "The State of L3" (Amsterdam), but the next videos show his search for his African roots.

Antonio Jose Guzman is a Dutch-Panamanian audiovisual artist. Born in Panama City, Panama in 1971. Lives and works in Amsterdam, Recife, Panama City and Dakar.

I think his search for his Black Panamanian roots can be placed in the trend of exploring the culture and the social issues of Black people in South and Central America, and the rise of a new Black assertiveness in Latin America. So also see the trailer of the documentary AfroLatinos.

Trailer of the documentary AfroLatinos.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rama Yade: "Too Many Blacks In French Sports? Perhaps Alain Finkielkraut Had 'A Point'"

From the US political blog Booker Rising. A translation of Rama Yade's comments about the overrepresentation of black players in the national French football team.

The French Secretary of State for Sport and moderate-conservative is uncomfortable with the high numbers of blacks and Arabs in French sport, arguing that it demonstrates lack of opportunity in France:

(commentary in French): "This week I participated in 'Diversity In Action,' a magnificent operation organized each year in Lyon with my friends Ali and Faisal Kismoune Douhane to promote diversity in French society. Around the debate 'Sport and Diversity"' which brought together Pascal Boniface, Olivia Cattan and Jean-Michel Aulas, everyone, including me, was extolling the virtue of inclusive sports. It is true that Marcel Cerdan (French Algerian origin) and Michel Platini (of Italian origin) Yannick Noah (from Cameroon), Mehdi Baala (of North African origin), and the black-white-Arab team players of the 1998 French soccer team, are all children of immigrants who passed through sport and show our young people today who identify themselves, they can escape through sport."

She continues her commentary: "At a point in the debate, I felt a slight discomfort. This relentless promotion of sport as a means of social success struck me as suspicious. Is it not somewhere a symptom of a failed society? As if sport is asked to manage those it no longer wants or has failed to integrate at school or the workforce. As if other than sports, these young immigrant could not do anything else. The legs yes, but not the head. They run so fast....But our young people from immigrant backgrounds would to become a Zidane or Noah, given a high chance of failure because not everyone has the capacity to become a world champion or to win Roland Garros! In short, these young people, could they not also entitled to medical professions, journalists or lawyers? However, it is as if these trades are considered inaccessible, we choose to ghettoize youth of immigrant origin. Without solving the problems of access to the labor market because one cannot remain a top sportsman all his life, who must think of a time or another in his retraining. The labor market always eventually catches up with you, with its problems of discrimination that thought away, turning to the sport."

Secretary Yade brings up Alain Finkielkraut, a conservative French essayist who in 2005 commented that the French soccer team was "black, black, black" (as opposed to black, white, Arab: "Result: young aspiring athletes have never been numerous. Moreover, there is no problem of diversity on the field and in stadiums (in leadership, however, it's tragic!). Quite the reverse. The France soccer team, they say, has eventually become....black, black, black! Damn, is it possible that Alain Finkielkraut has been misunderstood?"

Read original French article here

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Russia elects first black politician

Through the multicultural European website euromight.com I discovered the latest news in Russian politics. The first black Russian elected as a council member in a twon 100 km north of Moscow, Novozavidovo. An intriguing stroy of an African who made a Russian town his home and future. I don't have much more to add than the interesting article you can read via this link.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Art: In search of the African gene - "The State of L3" (Amsterdam)

The State of L3 - Image of Antonio Jose Guzman
It’s an exhibition about Black DNA, Afrofuturism, and the black identity. And it’s entitled "The State of L3".

Created by the Pan African Contemporary Arts & Film Collective of Armin Kane (Dakar), Antonio Jose Guzman (Panama/Netherlands) and Felipe Peres Calheiros (Brazil).

Date: June/July/August/September 2010 in Amsterdam, for more details go to: www.stateofl3.com

Very interesting is the DNA Road Movie "The Day we Surrender to the Air" of Panamese/Dutch audiovisual artist Antonio Jose Guzman. Guzman got his DNA analyzed in the United States and discovered that he is of African, Central and North American, and European lineage. His genetic identity was based on the Diasporas of his forefathers. So how did his parents end up in Panama?

State of L3 Draft

One of the interesting videos is Guzman talking to his father in Panama

Surrender Oosterpark Amsterdam - scenes of a cultural festival in Amsterdam

See all the videos here

From 10 July 2010, SMART Project Space presents Modernity & Aesthetics of the New Black Atlantic, an exhibition by The State of L3 exploring the connection between migration, visual culture and African heritage. Based in Amsterdam, Dakar and Recife, The State of L3 has created a rhizomatic network of artworks and artists working with multimedia exchanges, projects, videos and internet archive.

Throughout the work the concept of Afrofuturism plays a key role, a literary and cultural aesthetic that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to interrogate, and re-examine historical events of the past.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Video: Black Brazilians from the Diaspora meet Africans

Because it’s always interesting to see how black people from different countries connect with each other, here’s the video: "Na nga def: Diasporics Encounter Africans".

The video is about a meeting in 2008 between young black Brazilian women from the Diaspora and young African women from various countries. Most interesting remark: "I thought Brazil was all white."

The video is a promo of a documentary that's going to be released soon, referring to the encounter of young activists from the African Continent and its Diaspora who got together at the Gorée Island in Senegal - one of the three main slave-shipping point from where enslaved Africans were brought to the Americas for three and a half centuries. Na nga def? (How are you?) was a greeting in wolof, which youngsters from Diaspora repeated daily while in Gorée during 30 days of July 2008.
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