Saturday, December 24, 2011

Blogging Break & first black minister to serve in a Dutch cabinet

I am going to take a blogging break, but it doesn't mean no news will be posted. Sibo is also blogging. But before the break I am going to post some information of an old exhibition of the Dutch Rijksmuseum in 2009.

The highlight of the exhibition was the earliest known photograph from Surinam of a young married couple in 1846. (The picture on the right is their son, the only Surinamese minister to serve in a Dutch cabinet. He also became a Vice Admiral.)

This photo, a so-called daguerreotype, depicts Maria Louisa de Hart, the daughter of a mulatto female slave whose freedom had been purchased, and the Jewish plantation owner Mozes-Meijer de Hart. Her husband was Johannes Ellis, the son of Abraham de Veer, who was a Dutchman and the governor of Elmina in what is now Ghana, and the Ghanaian Fanny Ellis. Their son, Abraham George Ellis (1846-1916) was the first and only Surinamese minister to serve in a Dutch cabinet (1902-1905, Minister of the Navy). Until now, it was not known that any pre-1860 photographs from Surinam existed.

The photo of the young married couple is not exactly a celebration of black Surinamese history. Slavery was abolished in 1863, so this photo of the rich couple was taken during that time.

In 1860 Abraham left Suriname with his parents and four younger sisters and moved to Amsterdam in The Netherlands. His Father had already amassed enough capital to retire at the age of 48, and the family settled at the posh Herengracht in Amsterdam. His father later returned to Suriname.

Ellis is problably the first black minister and Vice admiral in a Western country.

Suriname abolishes Sinterklaas (and Black Pete) again

Photo: a black man as "Black Pete" ("Zwarte Piet") in Suriname
The Surinamese National Assembly has taken a resolute stance against the embattled Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas, the bearded white man who brings children goodies with the help of his slavish pitch-black helpers. “This celebration has a racist element and doesn’t belong in our community. It should be abolished,” said Ronald Venetiaan, of the New Front/National Party Suriname faction. In an unprecedented show of support, other parties, including the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) parliamentarians all agreed with the former President during the parliamentary meetings on Thursday.

Sinterklaas and his little helper “Zwarte Piet”, literally Black Pete, are a big tradition in Holland. Every year on December 5th, children wake up excited, expecting gifts and pepernoten cookies left in their stockings by the Sint who visits Dutch cities riding high a flashing white steed. The tradition has survived fierce opposition in the Netherlands from the immigrant population, who feel that Sinterklaas has racist undertones. But Dutch people say Sinterklaas should not offend anybody, because the slavish Zwarte Piet is not a black man, but a white helper who got black because he came down the chimney to deliver the children their gifts.

The tradition was left behind as an inheritance in Suriname, even after the country gained independence in 1975. It was actually already abolished in the eighties during military rule. Children’s Day was introduced on December 5th, but Sinterklaas survived obstinately to return full circle in recent years. The bearded white man was a prominent figure luring parents to toy shops a few weeks ago.

Venetiaan lamented the fact that Sinterklaas was even celebrated on the Independence Square, which he considered a slap in the face of the “Black part of Suriname’s community”, considering how hard has been fought all over the world against apartheid. His call for a renewed abolishment got full support from Parliament chairlady Jennifer Geerlings-Simons, who is also the faction leader of the NDP. Geerlings-Simons said that as a start, Sinterklaas should no longer be celebrated at public schools that resort under the Ministry of Education. “What people do in the privacy of their homes we cannot influence,” she said. (Source

New film: Philippe Niang's "Toussaint L'Ouverture"

Via Shadow and Act
The long overdue film of Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L'Ouverture, directed by Philippe Niang, is produced and will be aired on the network France 2 in February or March 2012.

Jimmy Jean-Louis stars as the title character in what will be a 2-part TV-movie, and he's joined by French actresses Aïssa Maïga (Paris, Je T'Aime, Bamako) as Toussaint's wife, Suzanne, and Sonia Rolland (Moloch Tropical, Midnight In Paris) as Marie-Eugénie Sonthonax, wife of abolitionist L.F. Sonthonax

Kreylicious (the hub for young, upwardly mobile Haitian-Americans) interviewed Haitian born star Jimmy Jean-Louis about the film. Some snippets of the interview.

How did you get involved?
The producers contacted me. You have to understand they have tried to make this movie for the past 20 years. And Danny Glover tried to make this movie for the past 15 years. And many other names have tried to make it. It was a long overdue movie. I was called by the producers to play the role, because they felt I fit the character. I had to do a lot of exercises. I had to learn how to ride a horse. I took lessons for a couple of months. [I had to learn how to] do sword-fighting. I took lessons in California and France.

Why was the movie filmed in Martinique and not in Haiti? A lot of people feel it would have brought a lot of publicity to Haiti, and it only seemed natural that it should be filmed in Haiti and not another island.
Haiti falls short on some requirements. I think the production tried, but it’s difficult to get insurance to insure a place like Haiti right now. From what I’ve been told, that’s one of the reasons why we couldn’t go there and shoot. The structure in Haiti is not the best either. Electricity. The roads are still pretty bad. As a Haitian, I would love to have shot it there.

Check out the full interview at

The film is produced by the Martinique based production company Eloa Prod

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Photo book: Black people in Turky - "Afro Turks"

In 2010 Dutch-Turkish Photographer Ahmet Polat published his photo book AFRO TURKS. It was the end of a project documenting Turks of African descend, who live in the region of Izmir. He had been working on this project since 2006.

In May this year Ahmet Polat presented his newest publication on the Afro Turkish community at gallery Liefhertje in The Hague.

On his blog he writes: "Together with Erik Vroons, a Dutch visual anthropologist who joined me in 2009, we started a research using archival, private collected images and interviews.

With this work we’ve created an exhibition and an online publication with the aim to create more attention and a better understanding of this ‘forgotten history’. At the same time we hope to give a better insight into the diverse and complex history that resides within the Turkish Republic."

Photo of Ahmet Polat: Melik's father is wrapping the virginity belt on his daughters waist.

Check out some his great photos of Afro-Turkish people.
Afro Turks no 1, Afro Turks no 2, Afro Turks no 3, Afro Turks no 4

A video about Afro-Turks

A video of Afro-Turkish Jazz singer Melis Sökmen where she refers to her African heritage

Read the article Afro-Turks

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Video: Young black and creative in Australia

Being black and creative is a new concept in the small black community in Australia, but things are changing.

Gillean Opoku, who was born and raised in Australia, made a video of young African-Australians about their views of an African creative culture emerging in Australia.

Opoku is also the founder of Afroklectic. Which is a platform to promote creativity within the African-Australia community. Share ideas, communicate to a wider audience that Africa is more than what they see in the media. And to communicate to an audience outside Australia that there are Africans living in Australia.


Also check an interesting story of Gellian Opuku about her experience as black person in Austrialia. And why she tought she was white. Check her story here.

And if you want to keep informed of what is going in the African-Austrialian community tune into web radio SBS African

Video: Bi-racial Children in Ukraine - The adoption issue

The documentary "Family Portrait in Black & White" about black/bi-racial orphans in the Ukraine triggered many responses on Facebook, blogs and websites.

Many people felt the Ukrainian foster mother should give these children up for adoption instead of keeping them in a post soviet racist environment. In a new video about the documentary (of doctalk) director Julia Invanova talks about this adoption issue.

The documentary is the story of Olga Nenya, a foster mother to sixteen black orphans in the Ukraine – where 99.9% of the population is white and where race does matter. Forced to constantly defend themselves from racist neighbors and skinheads, these children have to be on guard against the world that surrounds them.

I wonder if the Ukrainian foster mother has the legal right to put these children up for adoption. It seems that normally a foster parent doesn't have legal custody of the children; a welfare agency or a body of guardianship holds those rights.

See the previous posting: Bi-racial children in the Ukraine - "Family Portrait in Black and White"

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Editor in Chief Jackie resigns over Rihanna n*gg*b*tch controversy

According to the Dutch magazine Elsevier Eva Hoeke has decided to resign as Chief Editor of the Dutch magazine Jackie after the controversy surrounding the singer Rihanna. In the magazine Rihanna is referred to as a "niggabitch", a statement which infuriated the singer.

In the interest of the magazine and all parties involved she will resign immediately, according to Yves Gijrath, the director of GMG.

Hoeke concludes: "I should have counted to ten before making oversimplified statements via social media channels."

Today Rihanna lashed out to magazine Jackie who described her as a n*gg*b*tch.

To Editor in Chief Eva Hoeke she tweeted "@evajackie I hope u can read english, because your magazine is a poor representation of the evolution of human rights! I find you disrespectful, and rather desperate!! You ran out of legit, civilized information to print! There are 1000's of Dutch girls who would love to be recognized for their contributions to your country, you could have given them an article. Instead, u paid to print one degrading an entire race! That's your contribution to this world! To encourage segregation, to mislead the future leaders to act in the past! You put two words together,

@evajackie with the intent of abasement, that made no sense..."NIGGA BITCH"?!....Well with all respect, on behalf of my race, here are my two words for you...FUCK YOU!!!

Apparently magazine Jacky realised they had gone one step to far. Today Eva Hoeke wrote on twitter they would rectify the story in the next edition.

The first to respond to the story was Dutch black Televion host Zarayda Groenhart. According to the newspaper she was furious.

Chief Editor of Jacky first responded on twitter with: "I think it's more than obvious that it's a joke. Anyone who doesn't see this is extremely sensitive to the topic." Afterwards Eva Hoeke gained some new insights. For her boss that apparently was not enough.

On the picture the staff of Jackie, Chief editor Eva Hoeke is the blond third one from the right. Just to give you an impression of where this story came from.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dutch Magazine calls singer Rihanna "The Ultimate Niggabitch"

From Madnews
In an article published in the latest issue of Dutch fashion magazine Jackie, the magazine offers a little advice on how to dress like Rihanna without looking like the “ultimate niggerbitch.” That’s right. No typo there. Check out the full English translation below:
“She has street cred, she has a ghetto ass and she has a golden throat. Rihanna, the good girl gone bad, is the ultimate niggabitch and displays that gladly, and for her that means: what’s on can come off. If that means she’ll be on stage half naked, then so be it. But Dutch winters aren’t like Jamaican ones, so pick a clothing style in which your daughter can resist minus ten. No to the big sunglasses and the pornheels, and yes to the tiger print, pink shizzle and everything that glitters. Now let’s hope she won’t beat anybody up at daycare.”

Two hours ago, Jackie Editor in Chief Eva Hoeke posted the below apology on the magazine’s Facebook page:
Dear readers,
First: thanks for all your responses. We are of course very fed up over this and especially very shocked. However I’m glad that we’re engaging in a dialogue on this page — not everybody does that. Thanks for this. Other than that I can be brief about this: this should have never happened. Period. While the author meant no harm — the title of the article was intended as a joke — it was a bad joke, to say the least. And that slipped through my, the editor-in-chief’s, fingers. Stupid, painful and sucks for all concerned. The author has been addressed on it, and now I can only ensure that these terms will no longer end up in the magazine. Furthermore I hope that you all believe there was absolutely no racist motive behind the choice of words. It was stupid, it was naive to think that this was an acceptable form of slang — you hear it all the time on tv and radio, then your idea of what is normal apparently shifts — but it was especially misguided: there was no malice behind it. We make our magazine with love, energy and enthusiasm, and it can sometimes happen that someone is out of line. And then you can only do one thing: apologize. And hope that others wish to accept it.

From the bottom of my heart I say it again: we never intended to offend anyone. And I mean that.


Eva Hoeke

So, as editor in chief, Hoeke had no idea that this was offensive before running it and actually considered it a joke? In addition to being blatantly racist, calling Rihanna Jamaican (she’s from Barbados) and actually suggesting that mothers should dress their daughters like her, this article is just wrong from every angle.

According to our source in Holland, Jackie is a well known local fashion publication with a circulation of 57,700 copies per month. (Source Parlour website)

I don't think the Editor in Chief Eva Hoeke is really sorry about publishing the story. Being offensive is the Dutch norm these days, so this story was a perfect fit.

Report: Congolese Diaspora Waves the Flemish Flag in Protest

Congolese Diaspora, in protest against president Kabila and the Belgian political establishment, brandishes Flemish nationalist symbols.

President Kabila was officially re-elected as president of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Carter Center reported that the presidential elections lack credibility but the ‘international community’ keeps silent.

With war raging for nearly 15 years through the interior of Congo and with a corrupt elite at its head, many Congolese emigrated. They are now everywhere but Belgium, the former colonizer, hosts since a long time a large community.

While protests have been violent in Congo and many people were killed, there is very little information about what’s going on in Congo. The Congolese diaspora is also protesting. There have been protests in Brussels, London, Paris and elsewhere.

The Congolese Belgians protested last Friday in the streets of Brussels. At least they want the Belgian government to give a sign: to condemn the electoral forgery and to reject the election’s results. The Belgian government has long been Congo’s best ally and as economical and political interest have to be protected the Belgian political elite tends to be very mild towards Congolese leaders. Certainly since China started to be an economical competitor in the region, Belgium not only stopped to be critical towards the government, it supports Kabila.

The Congo politics in Belgium have traditionally been dominated by the French-speaking political elite. They were friends with Mobutu and now court Kabila. Only one Belgian foreign minister, Karel De Gucht, officially condemned the corrupt Kabila regime. He was a Flemish minister, known to be outspoken. A few years ago in a bar in Kinshasa there was a picture of him on the wall with below a sign stating ‘Here speaks the truth’. In 2007 Congolese Belgians already expressed their sympathy for the Flemish honest political style in contrast to the French-speaking smoothness (perceived as treacherous).

One year and half ago the N-VA won the parliamentary elections, they came out to be the largest party. The N-VA is a new right wing Flemish nationalist party, compared to the US they are more like Republicans than Democrats (they want less government). In the democratic system in Belgium the winning parties always have to make a coalition government representing the parliamentary majority (it is not the winner takes it all principal as in the US or France). In the past Christian-Democrats, Social Democrats and Liberals formed different governments in different configuration and coalitions having one of the 3 political families always in opposition while the other two are governing (for each political family there are 2 parties, one supporting Flemish interests, the other French-speaking interests).

This time though the biggest party was the new N-VA, for which there is no French speaking equivalent. But after more than a year of negotiating, N-VA couldn’t find the needed political allies to form a majority. So eventually the loosing parties, i.e. Christian-Democrats, Social Democrats and Liberals formed a government together leaving the winning party in opposition together with the far right and green parties.

The leader of N-VA, Bart De Wever is known to be outspoken, clear, honest, intelligent, hard working and undiplomatic. The N-VA represents the hard working no-nonsense Flemish stereotype. But its stubborn position for more Flemish control and power annoys the French-speaking minority in Belgium (who have proportionally more say on the Belgian political scene).

The French-speaking media in Belgium like to portray Bart De Wever as an arrogant far right politician, but he clearly states he’s not. He just wants Flanders to be more under control of its own destiny and he wants French speaking Belgians who settle in Flanders to learn and speak the Dutch language. He therefore is a natural enemy of the French-speaking political elite, who are traditionally friends with the Congolese political elite. Besides many people believe he wants to abolish the Belgian state and aspires for an independent Flemish republic. But just as many people think that this is propaganda to bring N-VA in discredit.

As a result the Congolese protester chose the Flemish flag and the person of Bart De Wever as key symbols in their protest against the Belgian political establishment.
There are three reasons why the Congolese community found solidarity with the Flemish cause. While N-VA won the elections, the political leaders in Belgium stayed more or less the same. N-VA stayed on the side without direct power (For some it is N-VA’s fault, as they didn’t want to make any compromise). Second the Flemish politicians, and certainly N-VA, are known to be outspoken and Flemish politicians often were critical towards the Belgian Congo-policy. N-VA is therefore their ally against Kabila. Third is the following principal: ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. We could hear Friday Congolese Belgians screaming that next time they will vote for N-VA. This shocks many French-speaking people, but also many Flemish people who see in N-VA a threat for Belgian unity and in the Flemish nationalistic signs a reflection of racism and fascism.

Journalists and politicians in Belgium are completely confused about this spontaneous reaction from the Congolese community.

Video (Dutch)


Most protests in Brussels resulted into rioting. Why is that? While there were young thugs who mixed into the protest, I think that the police force has a very different reaction confronted with crowds of screaming Africans than with white people. Additionally Congolese are rather ‘loud’ and you may think they have a fight while they are just having a friendly conversation. I believe that this intercultural misunderstanding has quickened the chance for clashes.

Furthermore I know the police reacts totally out of proportion. One anecdote about someone I know may be illustrative. He is from Angolan descent and had nothing to do with the protest. He just works at a theater in the neighborhood where the protesters passed. Because he heard some noise in the streets he took a look at the door (as so many people did). But he is black and immediately the police took him out of the theater’s door gate, dragged him in the street, kicked him and handcuffed him. His (white) colleagues, seeing what went on, ran after him and explained to the police officers that he is an employee of the theater, that he is of Angolan origin, that he has nothing to do with the protest. The police men didn’t listen, asked them to mind their own business and just ignored the colleagues. Once they had him under control and that he didn’t move anymore they let their dogs loose to attack and bite him while he was handcuffed on the floor. Eventually they took him away. He spend 12 hours in jail, bleeding and sour all over his body, they finally released him so that he could be hospitalized. His colleagues were under shock, the theater filed a complaint against the police force.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Closure of the International Year for People of African Descent

The end of 2011 is coming near. Last week the UN had its closing event for the International Year for People of African Descent. You can check the video webcast here.

Last year I posted the news as the UN launched this special year to draw attention to the situation of black people in the world. I can read the following on the un webpage: The actions carried out along the International Year served to promote greater knowledge and awareness of the challenges faced by people of African descent all over the world; highlight the important contribution of people of African descent in the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of society, and in the advancement and development of their countries in general with a view to foster discussions that generate proposals for solutions to tackle these challenges.

Honestly, I didn't notice to much of this initiative. I am curious to know about others in the world.

I'd like to conclude with a little note concerning a symbolic and important figure for all People of African Descent: While the year was officially closed on the 6th of december (Sinterklaas "Black Pete Day" in Belgium), it was on the 7th of december 2011 that Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams announced that prosecutors would no longer seek the death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal. This after that this year extraordinarily important new evidence established clearly that the prosecutor and the Philadelphia Police Department were engaged in presenting knowingly false testimony.

Prosecutor Williams said that Abu-Jamal will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. Nearly exactly 30 years after the murder he has been prosecuted for.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What I think of Zwarte Piet

Today is the official Sinterklaas Day in Belgium (in Holland it’s on the 5th of Dec). This is a centuries old celebration, especially for children, and it only exists in Holland, Belgium, northern France and certain parts of Germany.

Sinterklaas Day is not an official holiday in Belgium but traditionally primary schools organize an event on the 6th of December and children get a treat (mostly tangerines –mandarin oranges- and speculaas, a typical cinnamon biscuit from this part of Europe). In a former post this blog mentioned the existing discussion on Sinterklaas’s partner(s), Zwarte Piet, translated into English as Black Pete.

Since more than 30 years (Thanks Erik for this info -see comment below) the issue of the black face Zwarte Piet has been raised in Holland. It's only since this year that it dripped down into Belgium. But before 2005 nobody in Belgium was aware of any issue arising of his black face. Even if there were black people living in Belgium, nobody took great offence of this children’s event. It was considered tradition, rather childish, but not rude or meant to hurt anyone.

Things changed. I have friends now who think Zwarte Piet is blatant racism. Influence form the Black American world view has enlightened many European blacks and they don’t want to accept the Black Pete buffoon anymore.

Most white people in Belgium and Holland don’t understand this attitude. Even people who have been fighting racism for more than 10 years are completely shocked by this sudden criticism against Black Pete. They don’t understand that some black people are offended. They weren’t even aware of the fact that it could offend anyone. It’s just Black Pete they say, it’s an innocent character, it’s just for children, it’s like Halloween ...

Many retort to the explanation that Black Pete is black because he is a chimney sweeper. Indeed, the presents Sinterklaas brings for the children are traditionally delivered through the chimney. But that’s a modern day explanation which doesn’t explain the curly hair nor the big red lips. The Black Pete figure was originally a defeated devil and has later been described as a black person of African descent, Sinterklaas’s aid, slave or partner. (For more info check A. Blakely's book 'Blacks in the Dutch World'.)

Zwarte Piet was often also the scary part of the Sinterklaas feast. Only the good children got presents, the bad children had to be punished. And Zwarte Piet was the one who would catch the bad children and punish them. This means that children were supposed to be scared of Zwarte Piet, rather than of Sinterklaas who is more the old and forgiving man.

As a child I experienced this yearly Sinterklaas just like all the other white kids did. I was a good child and so didn’t fear Zwarte Piet. I wasn’t aware of race until I was 11 years old actually. Honestly I always saw Zwarte Piet as a white dude who blackened his skin, not even looking close to what I saw as ‘black people’. Never in Belgium a Zwarte Piet would mimick a 'black' accent, whatver that is. I couldn’t see anything black or African about him, it was just Zwarte Piet.

However, dismissing Zwarte Piet from Sinterklaas Day is not the solution I think. First, Zwarte Piet is a historical symbol of a century old black presence in Europe, eliminating this is ignoring a history that has been too much ignored, a history we have to face so to learn from the past and create a better future. Second, sweeping Zwarte Piet under the carpet is also pretending that stereotypes do not exist. But by deleting Zwarte Piet you do not delete prejudices. Third, most whites are not aware of the racist overtone, blaming them of racism rather than ignorance will not help in making them understand how racism actually works. On the contrary. Again I think we’d rather have to face the issue and change attitude rather than make prohibitions.

I think that rather than excommunicate Zwarte Piet from the Sinterklaas Day we should re-think his presence. A lot has changed since the early 20th century. While he used to be a devilish slave he is more a partner now, nearly equal to Sinterklaas. One day he might replace Sinterklaas. Traditions change over time . Or maybe, more extremely, we can just call the feast Black Pete Day to commemorate all the good things Black people brought to enrich Europe. Black Pete could become a nice and friendly black man who gives presents to the little ones.

As for the black face thing. Continental Europe never had a minstrel tradition like in the US or UK. Besides there was never a dominant black population present within its borders until recently. Therefore the whole sensitive issue of black face in the English-speaking world is of a very different nature in continental Europe. I understand the sensitiveness it has in the States. But while it is nearly non-existent in Europe it only exists in certain traditional holidays (very local). But it’s marginal and people don’t do it to laugh at blacks, they do it to be silly for one day (compare it to Rio Carnival). Let me therefore give another example of a local but strong tradition in Belgium: In the town of Aalst here in Belgium there is also a yearly carnival tradition called ‘De Voile Janetten’ (could be translated as ‘The Dirty Faggots’). In this tradition on the last day of carnival men in Aalst dress up as women, and roam the streets getting drunk . It gives the most hilarious scenes. It is not an anti-gay event, it’s just people being silly for one day.

All this said, I am not here to impose my point of view. I just think it is needed to keep a dialogue. I experienced white people here in Belgium who never ever had met a black person in life and weren’t aware of the sensitiveness of the Dutch word ‘neger’ (which is not the equivalent of nigger, rather of ‘negro’). When I know that a person uses this word out of ignorance rather than to insult me, I don’t think this person is a racist, he or she just uses an old fashioned vocabulary. I just feel it to be my responsibility to explain things to this person and to teach. Attacking Sinterklaas because of Zwarte Piet will only lead to more misunderstandings and hate. Raising the issue and proposing alternatives (like Zwarte Sint & White Pete) could bring more sympathy and understanding, and making people aware rather than angry.

Nevertheless, I was terribly shocked to see the police violence against protesters who were doing nothing more than wearing t-shirts stating ‘Zwarte Piet is Racisme’. This story is not finished yet.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Invention of the Savage. An Exhibition on Human Zoos at the Quai Branly Museum, Paris

Just a few generations ago white people only learned about dark skinned people through human exhibitions and pseudo scientific fairs. 19th-century scientists were eager to prove that different races were biologically distinct and whites biologically superior. These practices fueled the tradition of racism and the racist attitudes still existing today. Dark skinned people were de-humanized and so called scientist searched evidence to proof that Africans were actually not really human beings.

Today Lilian Thuram, former international football professional and nowadays head of the French association Education sans Racisme (Education without Racism) is the force behind an exhibit in the Quai Branly Museum, a modern venue right at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The exhibit brings to story of Europe’s perspective of the ‘other’. It brings into display the history of prejudice.

Offensive images are exhibited while visitors are urged to have a closer look and to be shocked. Films from those days are shown, freak show posters, scientific instruments used to measure skulls and noses, sculpted busts to show human differences compared to blacks and apes.

For the Europeans at the time scientific racism was often the only way to discover the world elsewhere. But the visitors were not aware of the fact that these photo’s, films, drawings, scientific exhibitions, etc. were more fabrications of a fantasy world that the actual representation of people from tropical climes.

Most people displayed in those days stay anonymous. An exceptions is South African Saartje Baartman, also known as the Hottentot Venus. She was often displayed in scientific fairs and spectacles alike. Her life is now subject to a French film released this year. Saartje Baartman is also featured in this exhibition (a French film was dedicated to Sarah Baartaman's story).

Other people have also been identified as Christian Karembeu’s (another French international football professional), grandparents are known to have been shipped from New Caledonia to be exhibited in Paris as "cannibals."

The audioguide is recommended to give you the necessary context. The audioguides are available in English, French and German. At the end a video projection offer moments to reflect. The exhibit opened the day before yesterday (29/11/2011) and runs till 3 June 2012.

More info here

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Black British theatre company Talawa celebrates its 25th anniversary

Picture of satire The Colored Museum
Ask Yvonne Brewster how much the theatre industry has changed in 60 years, and the founder of Britain's most high-profile black theatre company says: "Darling, when I started out, people would rub my skin to see if the colour came off."

Rose Bruford, the influential drama tutor, told Brewster (her first black female student) that she should "never expect to work". She did, of course, and in 1972 put on a London production of CLR James's The Black Jacobins, a play about Haiti in the 18th century, only to find her sold-out venue burnt down. [Yvonne Brewster misremembered the play in the venue that burnt down. It was, in fact, a production of Smile Orange.]

Over the next 12 months, as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations, Talawa will be staging George C Wolfe's 1986 political satire The Colored Museum, at the V&A; early next year, a reimagined Waiting for Godot with an all-black cast ("three years in discussion," says Cumper) will premiere at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Meanwhile, the company's annual showcase of new writing, Flipping the Script, has a summer residency at the Young Vic. Reviving a lost classic, reinventing an existing one, looking for the voices of tomorrow: it's a neat illustration of what the company does best.

read the full interview at the Guardian

Talawa Theatre Company at

Afro-French sitcom the "Tchip Show"

The "Tchip Show" is the first Afro-French sitcom. It started in 2005 as Web TV and is now broadcasted on the French public television network France Ô.

The show is about the lives of Afro-French people from the French Caribbean and Africa living in the Paris region.

See "Le Tchip Show" at

Label Noir - Afro-German theatre company performs "Home Bittersweet Home"

"Label Noir" is a group of professional black actors, directors and writers who add a new perspective to the dominant white theater landscape in Germany. Moses Leo, a member of the ensemble, explains how political satire, drama, and stage reading unveil a small piece of federal republican reality.

In an interview in Euromight with Moses Leo, one of the actors of Label Noir, he explains the background of the play "Home Bittersweet Home".

Dutch singer Sabrina Starke - "You Are My Love"

Award winning Dutch artist Sabrina Starke (of Surinamese origin) performs "You Are My Love", one of the songs of her tour. She is a two time winner of the Edison Award (the Dutch Grammy's) and both of her albums were released on the famous Blue Note Jazz label.

Her musical career started when she won the Amateur Night at Harlem's Apollo Theater in New York in 2006.

"MC" - The black theatre workshop and production company in the Netherlands

MC is a black/multicultural theatre workshop a production company and a venue for new times in old cities in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Their work involves everything from street culture to classical theater: they produce plays, music, and events for theaters, clubs and festivals at home and abroad.

Promo for MC's Hollandse Nieuwe (Holland's new), a theatre festival for new playwrights and theatre makers in the Netherlands

About MC
Western Europe today is a multi-etnic and multi-cultural society, and has been increasingly so over the last three decades. This undeniable reality is next to invisible in its cultural institutions. Mainstream art and culture in Europe does not reflect the reality of its streets. Young European artists who have grown up in this new reality are redefining Europe's identity through their work. MC's theater workshop gives them a stage and nurtures their talent. Our productions explore Europe's new identity: its past and its future.

MC evolved out of Made in da Shade and Cosmic theater. Cosmic theater was Amsterdam's leading multicultural production company. Made in da Shade was the dutch pioneer of urban, multimedia theatre. The strengths of both groups come together in MC - multicultural, multidisciplinary and cutting edge - Masters of Ceremony for the new Europe.

We are building our own theatre on the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam which opened in the spring of 2010: 2 studios, a theater that seats 200 people, and a place to ha ng out, dine and dance. A place where new stories are told and old stories are reinterpreted. A house for multiple art-forms: music, new media, dance, exhibitions etc, but always with theatre at heart.

Artistic Director is Marjory Boston

MC plays PUSH at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival in South Africa.

See MC at

“Miss Charme” election 2011 - The new ambassador of Amsterdam South East

The Miss Charme election in Amsterdam South East is an annual Dutch election to choose an ambassador to represent the city district for one year.

The new ambassador for Amsterdam South East this year is Nadia Taaza. The 24-year old college student won the election on November 5th. She described herself as "a Moroccan from Limburg”. The choice to move to this neighbourhood she calls "the best decision she has taken so far. Taaza is the first Moroccan to win the contest.

The jury was led by Silvana Simons, a former television host. And host of the evening was Sharlely Becker, who was once a candidate in the election and now the wife of former German tennis star Boris Becker.

See a video of the contest

See website Miss Charme at

French dance company Difekako performs childrens tale "Makak Janbé Croco"

The French Afro-Caribbean dance company Difekako plays the childrens tale "Makak Janbé Croco". The tale of the monkey and king crocodile performed in dance, theatre, music, percussion and vocals. The play takes us to the heart of an African village where every situation is more funny and outrageous than the last. Choreographer is Chantal Loial.

Video: Nigerian-German hip hop/soul singer Nnekka in "NNEKA"

The latest video of the Nigerian-German hip hop/soul singer and songwriter Nnekka, directed by andy amadi okoroafor

Meet black Italian visual artist Abiola Wabara

Abiola Wabara was already well know as a basketball player for the Italian national team, but now she is also making name for herself as a visual artist.

Intro Abiola
Abiola Wabara was born October 23rd 1981 to Nigerian parents in Parma Italy. As a child she always had a great passion for art, going to school in Italy art classes were always part of the curriculum, and she always demonstrated great fervor, and a natural talent for the subject.

Abiola attended Baylor University on a full basketball scholarship where she received a bachelor's degree in Spanish, Spanish literature and Culture. After graduating, she started her career as a professional basketball player in Israel, where she played for 3 seasons, then moved to Ibiza Spain and currently playing in Milan Italy. While in Israel she attended the art workshop of famous Israeli artist Eilat Tzin, and developed her skills further.

Abiola likes to focus her work on the diverse aspects of Black culture and tries to capture the beauty of her people and her culture in the works of Black art she creates. Abiola’s artwork is exciting, bold and expressive. Not only is she fascinated by the human form, but emotions, body language and especially eye expressions. Her style, sense of color is eye catching and being noticed by many.

Abiola work was noticed in Ibiza where she was featured on the local newspaper, Nigeria, where she was published in local magazine “Goldmine” and also was exposed in one of the most prestigious art galleries in Milan Italy “il Borgo”. She only prints small numbered limited editions, in order to value the collector. Abiola will be soon show casing her art work in new locations, follow her to find out….

See website

Asa - Jailer

This one of Asa’s first songs, Jailer. Born Bukola Elemide, Asa was born in Paris, France to Nigerian parents. She was two years old when her family returned to live in Nigeria. Asa grew up in Lagos, in the south-western part of Nigeria.

Abiola Wabara - Racism and protest in Italian basketball

In April this year Italian basketball fans and players were urged to paint their faces black to show solidarity and indignation after black Italian basketball player Abiola Wabara was subjected to racist abuse and spat at during a game. During the game the officials took no action.

According to Eurobasket, the 29-year-old of Nigerian origin, who was born in Parma and played college basketball in America at Baylor, was so shocked by the vitriol directed at her in her native country while playing the game she loves that she said: "I have played in front of 36,000 fans in the USA and I've never experienced something like that."

According to "Life in Italy" in April, Abiola Wabara, a 30-year-old Italian whose parents are Nigerian, suffered the abuse while playing for Bracco Geas of Sesto San Giovanni in a women's top-flight game at Como last Wednesday.

The Italian Basketball Federation (FIP) said the players in the nation's various leagues, starting with the men's top flight, will paint their faces black this weekend and invited fans to do the same.

"The FIP wants to clarify loud and clear that it is against every form of racism,'' read a federation statement announcing the initiative called Vorrei La Pelle Nera (''I'd like to have black skin''), the title of a much-loved Italian pop song.

A video of about protest

Italian film "Bianco e nero" ("Black and White") deals with race and inter-racial relationships

Black and White (Italian: Bianco e nero) is a 2008 Italian romance film directed by Cristina Comencini. The film deals with race and inter-racial relationships when the married Carlo falls in love with Nadine (Aïssa Maïga), the wife of his own wife's work colleague.

Carlo and Elena have been married six years; they have a daughter and their married life has settled into a rut. Elena is a cultural mediator who manages an association against racism, whereas Carlo is a computer engineer who has little in common with his wife.

Bertrand is Elena’s colleague, and husband to Nadine, with whom he has two children. The events of the film unfold after Carlo meets Nadine, a fascinating and elegant Senegalese, employed in the Senegalese embassy in Rome. The two are swept away by an unexpected complicity which becomes a clandestine relationship.

The expectations and prejudices of their two families come to the fore when their affair is revealed, and the new couple have to make important decisions.

According to the review of film education, the film’s reviews weren’t entirely positive. Some reviewers felt frustration that the film’s premise didn’t allow the shades of grey that were indicated in the trailer, and dealt too simplistically with the issues. Centring the narrative on two wealthy families also received strong criticism, as this representation moves the narrative away from the real world, with the African population of Italy remaining largely working class. According to many, the film would have been more educational if it featured two protagonists from a less privileged social class.

The social divides suggested by the film are far from the Italian reality: today in Italy there are different ethnic minorities that suffer marginalisation, whereas the African community is not ghettoised in Piazza Vittorio, as the film would have us believe.

A last and sadly telling fact of the production is that no Italian sponsor was willing to provide the French actors clothes; this fact confirms that even today, racist attitudes persist in Italian society.

Read the full review in PDF at

Video: Genius Collective - Stronger Than Me - Amy Winehouse tribute

The Genius Collective is a seven piece Hip Hop / Soul / Funk band based in Birmingham. Established in 2010, GC offer a Jazzy take on the Hip Hop Band concept.

According to the press release, GC's first release from the E=GC2 EP is the beautifully light and soulful Future (Breaks), a guitar led track featuring the sultry vocals of Genius Collective's leading lady Kezia Johnson, who's sound has been compared to that of Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill & Jill Scott to name but a few. Future fuses guitar, keys, bass and live drums alongside an impressive saxophone harmony providing a backdrop for a story to be told of a love that has come to an end.

Check out their band at

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Radio: Trina Roach interviews three Afro-European women on 15 November 2011

In the online radio program themed "The Power in Telling Our Own Stories" Trina Roach interviews three black women in Europe on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 from 7.30pm to 9.30pm CET on Talkshoe.

The roundtable talk with a panel of special guests will showcase positive examples of Women of African descent in Europe taking back control of the public narrative about them and their lives.

Special guests

Sharon Dodua Otoo – A Black British mother based in Germany – who is an activist, author and editor of the forthcoming book series “Witnessed”.

Precious Williams - A UK-based author and journalist of Nigerian and Sierra Leonean descent. She has written for a number of newspapers and magazines including the Guardian, the Telegraph, Elle, Marie Claire, Grazia, Glamour, the New York Post and the Financial Times. Her first book, a memoir called ‘Precious: A True Story’ was published by Bloomsbury in 2010.

Carolyn Vines - Vines is passionate about IDENTITY and INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL and wrote about the intersection of the two in her memoir - black and (A)broad: traveling beyond the limitations of identity.

The online radio program will be hosted by Trina Roach, an executive coach and leadership trainer who has lived in Germany for almost 40 years, and the founder of Uncaged Birds™.

For more details see her website Uncaged Birds

Friday, November 11, 2011

Book: La France noire (Black France)

Book cover La France Noire
A book, an exhibition and three films will tell, from November 3th, the story of "La France noire" ("Black France"): three centuries of blacks in France.

In the light of Black Britain (2007) by Paul Gilroy, "Le Paris noir" (Hazan, 2001) or Black Paris (2007), this book will be a unique reference of three centuries of blacks in France, from all communities and all over the world for three centuries of shared history.

The books is also part a program by the research group ACHAC (Association pour la connaissance de l'histoire de l'Afrique contemporaine), a program which is at the crossroads of several anniversaries: the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the war in Algeria, the 65th anniversary of the departmentalisation of the "old colonies" (Antilles, French Guiana and Réunion), the 80th anniversary of the French Colonial Exhibition (1931) and the 10th anniversary of the law Taubira (2001), a law which recognises slavery as a crime against humanity.

Author: The historian Pascal Blanchard

Browse in a digital viewing copy of a part of the book at

Read more about the book and the exhibition here

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Black in Nazi Germany - Esi Edugyan about her novel "Half-Blood Blues"

Canadian author Esi Edugyan talks about her new novel Half-Blood Blues. A story about the black experience in Nazi Germany which took the Scotiabank Giller Prize yesterday.

Paris, 1940. A brilliant jazz musician, Hiero, is arrested by the Nazis and never heard from again. He is twenty years old. He is a German citizen. And he is black.

Fifty years later, his friend and fellow musician, Sid, must relive that unforgettable time, revealing the friendships, love affairs and treacheries that sealed Hiero’s fate. From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of Paris – where the legendary Louis Armstrong makes an appearance – Sid, with his distinctive and rhythmic German-American slang, leads the reader through a fascinating world alive with passion, music and the spirit of resistance.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Video: British artist Michael Kiwanuka "I'm Getting Ready"

British artist Michael Kiwanuka was born and raised in North London by Ugandan immigrants. Michael's '60s soul and introspective lyrics draw comparisons to Otis Redding, Bill Withers and Marvin Gaye.

Gang rape duo arrested after bloggers force Nigerian police into action

Nigerian police have arrested two students in connection with a gang rape after a pair of outraged bloggers forced them into action. Bloggers Linda Ikeji and Sugarbelly garnered online support to identify the rapists.

The Voice reported in September that the two men are thought to have been part of a gang of five men, who brutally raped a young woman in a video that was later posted online.

In the video, thought to be recorded on the Albia State university campus, the women can be heard pleading with her attackers to kill her, according to reports.

It is believed that the perpetrators recorded the attack and then distributed it to other students at the university.

However, police were forced to close the investigation because the victim, who can be identified in the footage, did not come forward.

But bloggers Linda Ikeji and Sugarbelly were so horrified by the decision to close the case that they offered a reward to anyone with information.

Together they garnered such overwhelming support online that members of the Nigerian parliament called for the case to be reopened.

Three days later, the online uproar and clues posted on forums helped Albia State detectives make the arrests.

However, the Nigerian Government and university officials deny the incident took place in University or that anyone involved was a student of the school.

Despite the arrests, activists are using the media attention surrounding this incident to draw attention to what they see as an “under-reported epidemic of rape” in Nigeria, AP reports.

“The woman who wants to report rape does not have the confidence in the justice system in Nigeria," said Akiyode-Afolabi, executive director of the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre.

Read the full story at The Voice

Linda Ikeji is a Lagos based Nigerian ex-model, entrepreneur and blogger. She is also the author of the book "It takes you". Her blog is at

It's very good that these two bloggers took action. At the same time it's sad to know that every every 1.3 minute a person is raped.

Concha Buika's new album "En Mi Piel"

In September this year Latin Grammy award winning Spanish artist Concha Buika released her new album "En Mi Piel". In the video Buika is singing "Por el amor de amar" from her new album.

Last year her album "El Ultimo Trago", a collaboration with Chucho Valdes, won her a Latin Grammy music award.

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Africa Vive" - Spain's biggest African cultural event

Africa Vive (Africa Lives) is a cultural initiative in Spain to celebrate Africa Day on May 25th. It’s a full program of activities between April and July and includes cultural, political, economic, social and sporting activities.

Africa Vive is an initiative of the government organisation "Casa Africa", which aims to improve the knowledge of the African continent in Spain.

According to the organisation the goal is to foster the debate on the continent at all levels and always in the hands of Africans themselves and showing Africa in a positive and optimistic way.

Africa Vive at
Casa Africa at

And check out the youTube video channel of Africa Vive here

A video of AFROJAM, an event which was organised by Casa África in 2009.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Brazil travel poster in The Netherlands – No black folks?

I saw a travel poster of Brazil in Amsterdam today with the slogan "Brazil is calling. Celebrate life here."

But somehow it didn't look Brazilian to me, especially on a cold autumn day. When I think of Brazil I think of Carnival in Rio, samba football and smiling black and white faces. But this poster reminds of Portugal, not Brazil.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bijlmertalk – Young Black people in Amsterdam South East

Bijlmertalk is a new web TV show created for and by young black people in the multicultural district Amsterdam South East in The Netherlands.

In the shows experts will be interviewed about various themes, but also politicians, business people and residents will get attention.

In the video the two hosts say: “Here it's going to happened, Bijlmertalk 20. We are going to talk about sports, politics, crime, jobs and income.” Check their website at

Bijlmertalk partnered with the website Bijlmer, a website packed with information for youngsters and children in the district. And it’s also created by the young people of South East. Check their website at

To see what life is like for these youngster go directly to the photo albums at:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Video: "Dear Daddy" - The pain of fatherless women

A very painful documentary about the effects of the absence of a black father in the lives of eight young women. Although it's an African American documentary, the problem of the absentee black father is also an issue in many black European communities.

Dear Daddy is a feature length documentary about the life long effects of fatherlessness on women. The film follows the dramatic journeys of eight young women from the tough city streets of Washington,DC as they struggle to overcome poverty, poor educational systems, no healthcare, and the most difficult life circumstance they have been dealt… the absence of their fathers.

According to the blog of the film, 82.3% is the number of African American children born since 1990 that will not live in the same home as their biological fathers before graduating High School.

Check out the full story at

Needless to say, there are black men who do care for their families.

To end, a video from the UK about Black Fatherhood in the 21st Century

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

UN launches competition to design memorial to victims of slavery

30 September 2011 – The committee tasked with building a permanent memorial at the United Nations to honour the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade today launched a global competition for the design of the structure to remind the world that millions of Africans were violently removed from their homelands, abused and robbed of their dignity.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will administer the design competition, Ambassador Raymond Wolfe of Jamaica, the chair of the Permanent Memorial Committee on Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, told a news conference at UN Headquarters.

“As we launch the competition I am pleased to report that all stakeholders including the members of the committee, Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Africa Group which participated in the negotiations are supremely confident that UNESCO will manage a transparent, inclusive and politically impartial selection process,” said Mr. Wolfe.

He urged ministries of foreign affairs and culture of Member States to disseminate information about the design competition so that a “rich and diverse pool of applications can be submitted to UNESCO for consideration.” The deadline for submitting designs to the competition is 19 December 2011.

Philippe Kridelka, the Director of UNESCO’s New York Office and Representative to the UN, noted that the monument will not only be a symbol, but part of an education process in memory of slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Some $4.5 million is required to build the monument, and just over $1 million has been raised through donations from States and others sources. Mr. Wolfe encouraged corporations, philanthropists and the private sector to contribute to the project.

Source: UN

(Photo of statue of the Slavery monument in Zanzibar Stone Town, Tanzania by Eric Lafforgue)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

CeCe Winans at Paris Gospel Festival 2011

Grammy Award winner and Gospel singer CeCe Winans will perform in Paris on 11 and 12 November in a new edition of the Paris Gospel Festival 2011.

Place: Casino de Paris, 16 Rue de Clichy 75009 Paris, France.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Video: Lianne la Havas - "No Room For Doubt"

Lianne la Havas, the 22 year old singer from South London, is one of the new stars on the UK music scene.

Garnering praise from both the underground music blogs and mainstream media, she achieved the musician's Holy Grail by appearing on the influential Later...with Jools Holland show, wrote Soulbounce

Her musical taste is influenced by her mother and father. In an interview with Ligature magazine she says: " I grew up with my Jamaican side of my family there was a lot of Reggae and my mum was into R’n’B a lot, the more modern stuff from the nineties. She loved Mary J Blige and Jill Scott so I got well into them through my mum.

Then my dad, he didn’t live with me, but when I would visit him he played all kinds of instruments. So I’d see him play the accordion or the guitar. He would show me a few bits on the keyboard or the guitar. And he was into loads of jazz and world music as well, but he loved Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker. “

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book: The sinking of the slave ship Leusden

The sinking of the Dutch slave ship Leusden may have been the worst catastrophe of its kind in the Atlantic slave trade. Near the coast of Suriname 680 Africans were trapped in the hull and drowened as a result.

In a new book entitled "Het Slavenschip Leusden" ("The Slave ship Leusden") the author and researcher Leo Balai explores this piece of relatively unknown Dutch history. In September the story was also televised in an episode of the Dutch TV series "The Slavery".

On January 1, 1738 the greatest disaster occurred in the history of Dutch slavery. 680 Africans were deliberately killed when the slave ship Leusden sank in the mouth of the Maroni River in Suriname.

"An example of exceptional barbarity," called Balai the action of the captain and the crew of Leusden. When it appeared the ship would sink, the prisoners who were on deck at that time for a meal, were ordered to go below deck to the slave hull. The shutters were boarded up to prevent their escape. 16 Africans who were elsewhere survived the disaster.

Box with gold
The report shows that the crew had closed the shutters, because there were afraid that the prisoners would come on deck to murder them. After studying the records Balai didn’t believe it. The West Indian Company (WIC) has never questioned the fact if more prisoners could have been saved. The disaster was dismissed as "a sensitive damage to the company." Most attention was given to whether the crew should receive salvage pay for rescuing a casket of gold.

The tenth and last voyage of the Leusden began on November 19, 1737 from Elmina (Ghana), carrying 700 captured Africans. The intention was to sell these people as slaves in Suriname. The ship was already 19 years old and had served all its life as a slave ship for the WIC. The trips of the Leusden were destined for St. Eustatius, Suriname and Berbice.

Although Leusden was a slave ship, Balai deliberately calls the people prisoners and not slaves. Because they had not yet been in the hands of an owner.

Balai encountered during his research that free Africans were employed as supervisors. They were employed by the WIC. It is difficult to determine exactly who these people were, because they were not mentioned by their real names. The deployment of bombas for the supervision of prisoners was only used on Dutch ships, discovered Balai.

No research vessels
The researcher noticed during his study in The Netherlands and abroad, that very little research has been done on slave ships and the conditions on board. He finds it remarkable because without these ships the transatlantic slave trade would have been impossible.

No construction drawings
Too bad, but we will probably never know how Leusden looked like. There are no drawings or models left of Dutch slave ships. There are also no known archaeological finds. To get a picture, the VOC ship Amsterdam (which is docked at the Dutch Maritime Museum) can be used as an example. But beware, says Balai, it probably looked very different.

Proper burial
The way the prisoners were killed is to Balai the most important aspect of the sinking of the Leusden. Not so much that the ship landed on a sand bank and sank. It is certain a difficult job, and yet it is the wish of Balai that the people who were drowned still receive "a proper" funeral.

Leo Balai received his PhD on Friday, October 21 at the University of Amsterdam on the history of “the one and only real slave ship " of the West Indian Company (WIC).

On the photo, Leo Balai near the VOC ship Amsterdam, which is docked at the Dutch Maritime Museum. (Photo by Sam Jones.)

(source: RNW)

The disaster of the Leusen was also mentioned in the book "Dutch in the Atlantic Slave Trade (1990)" and in the Dutch TV series, "The Slavery", which sparked controvery with the video "Slavery the Game". A snippet from the book with pictures of the series.

"On January 1, 1738, however, just a few days before reaching its destination port in Surinam, the ship was caught in a vicious storm that stranded it on rocks near the river Marawin."

On the photo is explained that the Captain of the Leusden made a mistake, he took the wrong river mouth.

"According to the reports of surviving officers, as the storm raged, the ship began to tilt to one side and take on water, making rescue of the human cargo impossible. In order to avoid a scramble for the lifeboats, the crew closed the hatches and locked the slaves below decks, where they all drowned or suffocated before the storm ended a few days later.

Because of the enormous financial loss, West India Company directors were keenly interested in the disaster and ordered all officers of the ship to make depositions. The officers claimed that if they had released the slaves, a fight over the few lifeboats would most likely have killed everyone."

On the photo, the coast the of Maroni River in Suriname where the slave ship sank. The exact place is still not discovered.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Meet Dutch DJ Afrojack - Number 7 of world's best DJs

Since Thursday DJ Afro-Jack is listed as number 7 on DJ Mags top 100 DJs of 2011, according to Hollywood reporter.

Grammy Award winner Afrojack, aka Nick van de Wall, is a 24-year-old Dutch mixmaster and producer best known for his dancefloor hit "Take Over Control," (ft Eva Simons) plus his work on Pitbull's "Give Me Everything" and Beyonce's "Run the World (Girls).

This year the DJ, who was born in the Dutch city of Spijkenisse to a Dutch mother and a Surinamese father, won a Grammy Award for Best Remixed Recording for a remix of the song from Madonna Revolver, which he made with the number one DJ David Guetta.

The video "The Way We See the World" of Afrojack and other DJs. The scene is the Dance festival Tomorrowland in Belgium.

An interview on Spin

Nick van de Wall attributes his success to his mother, who taught him the value of hard work. His mother owns the biggest fitness gym in his home town.

Side Bar

Afrojack produced the dance hit "Take Over Control," featuring Eva Simons. Simons is a dance artist who was born in Amsterdam to a Surinamese mother and Dutch father. She was also featured on Chris Brown's track "Pass Out". Eva's mother is singer Ingrid Simons.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The problems of black or mixed race children in Italy

To be black and Italian at the same time is a new reality the Italian society is still struggling to accept.

Adoption and increase in the number of mixed marriages between Italians and Africans are gradually leading to an increase in the number of Black Italian children, the so-called Afro-Italians.

But the Italian society seems unprepared to cater for the social and educational needs of these children.

In an exclusive interview with Africa News, Sabrina Jacobucci, aka Flora NW, President of the Association of Afro-Italian Children, reveals the reasons that led to the foundation of the Association, the problems biracial children face in the country, and suggests what should be done to make the education system more responsive to the needs of mixed heritage children.

A snippet from the interview

Afro-Italians is quite a new concept in this country. How do people react to it?

I think the very concept is disturbing to some people. Even the word Afro-Italian. I remember when I started posting on a (all-white) parents’ forum using the word Afro-Italian as a nick name, a lot of people reacted badly to my comments judging the nickname “aggressive”.

I think people in Italy are afraid of someone defining him/herself Afro and Italian at the same time because in the collective consciousness you can be Italian only if you are white. This is demonstrated also by the treatment given to the famous black Italian footballer Mario Balotelli – what racist hooligans sing is that there is no such a thing as a black Italian. Celebrating our children’s dual identities, black and Italian at the same time, has a symbolic aspect which is disruptive to some people.

From your experience, in Italy, are mixed heritage children facing different problems from those of other children?

Mixed race children often face the same issues black mono-heritage children face. No matter their skin tone, they are seen as black and therefore it is healthier and more empowering for them to identify as such, without denying their dual heritage at the same time. A racist is not going to ask them whether they are mixed-race. And yes, black and mixed race children definitely face different problems from those of white children.

What are the main problems?

Problems such as name-calling: on the first day of primary school, one of our mixed-race girls went home to her mum and asked: What does “negra” mean? A child in class told me today “Don’t sit next to me, negra!”; refusal by classmates to hold the black child’s hand at playtime in nursery (an experience that another of our black girls, aged four or five, had). In both these episodes unfortunately what emerged was the lack of action by the teacher. Teachers all too often do not have any training in multicultural education, and therefore when faced with episodes of racism or pre-racism by children, they do not know how to react and tend to minimise, even telling the victim to look the other way, or calling the victims oversensitive if they report a racist incident and expect justice. This is very serious because with racism, any action is better than no action at all. The victim should be comforted and the perpetrator reprimanded, always.

Read the full story at

Website of Association of Afro-Italian Children

See also on Afro-Europe:
The challenges of biracial children in Russia
Bi-racial children in the Ukraine - "Family Portrait in Black and White"

Side bar

A news item reported that a “Racist” couple was barred from adopting children in Italy.

An Italian couple’s adoption bid was denied after they said in their application that they did not want “dark-skinned” children.

An appeal court in Sicily ruled that the couple were unfit to adopt children of any description, local media reported.

A child protection agency took the couple to court after they submitted an application in Catania, in eastern Sicily, saying they were “prepared to take in up to two children… regardless of sex or religion, but… not with dark skin.”

The court ordered a magistrate who reviews adoption requests to ignore such specifications, then took things a step further, ruling that any such “racist” couple should not be allowed to adopt at all.
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