Monday, June 27, 2011

The Cape Verdean diaspora

There are many Cape Verdean communities in the world. Because Cape Verde was a colony of Portugal, the largest community is of course based in Portugal.

But there are also communities in France, the UK and in The Netherlands. And not only in Europe, also in the US and South America. (Photo Suzanna Lubrano in Ebony)

In a story on the blog 'The Great Cape Verde Adventure' the blogger writes about this Cape Verdean diaspora.

"How many Cape Verdeans actually live outside of Cape Verde? These individuals comprise the Cape Verdean diaspora.

The popular thinking is that more Cape Verdeans live outside Cape Verde than live within it. The poplation of Cape Verde is just over half-million residents in 2011 (based on the most recent census). I've heard estimates for the population of the diaspora that range from half-million to one million.

And it's a very interesting question to ask for several reasons.

First, it has significant implications for the country's economy because almost 10% of the GDP comes from remittances sent to Cape Verdean families from members who live in other lands, and provides support to families for the basics of living as well as to start small businesses. Remittances were actually an even higher percentage of the total economic output but have been surpassed by tourism and foreign direct investments."

Read the full story at

Cape Verde for absolute beginners

The Republic of Cape Verde is an island country, spanning an archipelago of 10 islands located in the central Atlantic Ocean, 570 kilometres off the coast of Western Africa.

The previously uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th Century, and became an important location in the Atlantic slave trade due to their geographically advantageous position.

Most of the population is of creole ethnicity, mixed from black African and European descent. The European men who colonized Cape Verde did not usually bring wives or families with them. As female African slaves were brought to the islands inter-marriages occurred (source wiki).

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Black flight: Black British actors are moving to the US

Via Shadow and Act
It looks likes a black flight. British TV and theatre is suffering from a talent drain of black British actors, with many looking to the US for work because of the lack of opportunities in the UK, leading figures have warned, wrote the UK magazine Stage.

High-profile performers… have warned that home-grown stars are leaving the country due to its failure to fully embrace multicultural casting.

They argue the UK does not offer enough lead roles to black performers or commission programmes reflecting the diversity of life in Britain today. By contrast, the US is considered more inclusive in its casting and as somewhere black actors can better progress their careers.

Shadow and Act wrote the BBC has “rejected criticism that UK television does not provide enough parts for black actors, claiming that the Corporation “leads the way” in diverse casting,” siting primetime drama series with starring roles for Idris Elba and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Second, unlike the BBC, UK’s Channel 4 admits that “casting is always an area where we could do better,” and further that they are “aware of black actors looking for work in the US;“ although, while the USA might present “wider opportunities,” they believe there’s also “more competition.” “An area where I think we can really make progress is by casting against type and taking more risks with talent. It’s an area where agents, producers and broadcasters can do more,” a rep for Channel 4 said.

Also read: There’s no educated ethnic middle class in this country (the UK) to counter the black 'street’ stereotype, writes Lindsay Johns. The post is a follow up. Read it at S&A

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Magazine Transition 105 - Blacks, Jews, and Black Jews

The American magazine Transition 105, of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, is teeming with thorny questions about being black in a global context.

Even the “Black-Jewish Question,” traditionally an American obsession, gains complexity when it involves a half-Kenyan president, Israel, or Igbo Jews celebrating Hanukkah in Abuja. Three writers explore three different intersections of the tribe and the people.

And the issue follows several more journeys through the Diaspora in search of black meaning. A review of the new biography of Marcus Garvey, transatlantic hero, celebrates ties between Africa and the Americas, just as Bayo Holsey questions Wole Soyinka’s reading of Africa’s role in the slave trade.

And amid these abstract tides of history, pushing back and forth, individuals are caught in small eddies: an African American anthropologist visits Brazil and has trouble getting back home; an American daughter of South African parents floats like a ghost between different cultures of death; a black writer can’t quite find home in Harlem. With the idea of home in transition, at least all these ideas find a home in Transition.

Born in Africa and bred in the Diaspora, Transition is a unique forum for the freshest, most compelling, most curious ideas about race. Since its founding in 1961, the magazine has kept apace of the rapid transformation of the black world and has remained a leading forum of intellectual debate. Now, in an age that demands ceaseless improvisation, we aim to be both an anchor of deep reflection on black life and a map charting new routes through the globalized world.

For more information go

Keri Hilson gives advice on music business (London)

The UK online music magazine SoulCulture produced two very interesting music business videos with American singer-songwriter Keri Hilson.

In the first video Keri Hilson talks to SoulCulture about the challenges of the music business, bonding with her musical associates such as Timbaland and the reality behind the perceived arrogance of Kanye West. Where some suffer from the blurred line between the person and the performer, Keri maintains “It’s always me”.

See full story here

Earlier this month R&B singer/songwriter Keri Hilson visited inner city London training provider DV8 Training in Walthamstow, East London to give a motivational talk on careers in the music business drawing on her own experience and Q&A with young people from some of the poorest London boroughs.

See full story here

Friday, June 24, 2011

Petition: Support National Institute for the study of Dutch slavery and its legacy (NiNsee)

Sign Petition
As of January 2013, there is a good chance that the National Institute for the study of Dutch slavery and its legacy (NiNsee) will no longer be subsidized by the the Ministry of Education, Research and Science. On Monday, June 27th, the State Secretary Halbe Zijlstra will discuss plans to discontinue the subsidy within the Tweede Kamer (House of Commons).

If these plans go through, it represents the end for NiNsee. This would be disastrous as the slavery past concerns us all. Without NiNsee:

- The only knowledge institute concerned with trans-Atlantic slavery in Holland will cease to exist.

- The impact of the Dutch slavery past on Dutch society, will rarely be discussed nationally or internationally.

- The national slavery monument in Amsterdam's Oosterpark, which is inextricably linked to NiNsee, will become an empty gesture.

- Our shared history will no longer be commemorated on a national level. In this respect, and in the eyes of the Council of Culture, NiNsee can be compared to the Dutch Institute for War Documentation (NIOD). The significant role that NIOD plays in the memorialization and understanding of the Second World War, is performed by NiNsee for the much longer period of the slavery past.

- The Dutch slavery past will barely be represented in an accessible way, as it is now via publications, exhibitions and teaching packages. Because of this, knowledge will be concealed from the larger public and the next generation of Dutch people, with the disastrous consequence that the voices of our ancestors will gradually disappear from our collective memory.

- In the "new" Netherlands that this cabinet envisions, the Dutch slavery past will be completely erased from our memory.

- Many Caribbean and Afro Dutch people will again experience alienation within Dutch society.

The only institute that is concerned with the Dutch slavery past and its legacy will not be dismantled in such a careless fashion. Sign the petition to prevent the loss of knowledge and legacy.

Sign Petition here

Dutch protesters burn photocopies of ‘Book of Negroes’ ('Someone Knows My Name') cover

A Dutch anti-slavery group has followed through on its threat to symbolically burn a copy of Canadian author Lawrence Hill’s acclaimed Book of Negroes because of its title, wrote The Star.

A spokesperson for Amsterdam’s de Telegraaf newspaper confirmed a photocopy of the book’s cover was burned Wednesday afternoon in the Oosterpark in Amsterdam, which has an anti-slavery monument.

The Dutch group, the Federation for Honour and Reparation of Slavery in Suriname, recently announced it would publicly burn the book on June 22 if the title wasn’t changed. The book has only recently been published in the Netherlands under the title, Het Negerboek.

The Book of Negroes is the title of an actual historical document which documents the migration of 3,000 African slaves who supported the British cause in the American Revolution and were allowed to go from New York to Nova Scotia. Many of them later returned to Africa.

“The title is not intended to be offensive, but. . . to shed light on a forgotten document and on a forgotten migration, that of thousands of blacks from the USA to Canada in 1783,” Hill wrote Groenberg in reply.

It’s not the first time the award-winning book’s title has raised controversy. Publishers in the United States and Australia insisted the title be changed to Someone Knows My Name and in Quebec, the book is titled Aminata, the name of a female slave who returned to Sierra Leone after being abducted as an 11-year-old.

In an interview with the Montreal Gazette author Lawrence Hill said: "If Mr. Groenberg spent five minutes reading The Book of Negroes, he probably would not want to burn it anymore, Mr. Hill suggested."

He added. "Book burning is something that Nazis did, it's something that the people who led the Spanish Inquisition did, it's a gesture designed to intimidate and silence -- it's hateful."

In the Dutch newspaper Het Parool Groenberg said he was not going to burn the book. “ This book is my friend. It tells the history and the horrors of slavery. Things that happened to my family.” See a video of the protest here.

Burning the entire cover wasn’t an option either. “ They have put one of our ancestors on the cover. We aren’t going to set fire to our grandmother,” said Groenberg.

The group "Eer and herstel" of Dutch Surinamese activist Roy Groenberg has threatened in the past to burn the standard Dutch dictionary “De Grote VanDale” because of the word Negro. Groenberg wanted the word to be removed. Although the word remained in the dictionary, the book wasn't burned.

The group was more successful with a candy called "Negro kiss", "Negerzoen" in Dutch. The name was later changed to "Buys Zoenen" ("Buys kisses").

But the Dutch publisher of the book knew this organisation would protest. In an interview in De Pers the publisher said they wanted to be provocative. Since Canadian author Lawrence Hill was in the Netherlands a few month ago to promote his book, he could have known that some black people in the Netherlands would protest against the title.

But both the publisher and the author got what they wanted, publicity. So one way or the other profit is being made. Again.

On the Dutch TV station AT5 the book was burned, but not by the Federation for Honour and Reparation of Slavery in Suriname of activist Groenberg.

See a video about the book

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

School’s refusal to let boy wear cornrow braids is ruled racial discrimination

Boy’s family wins case in high court against Harrow college in North London that bans ‘gang-related’ hairstyles.

A school’s anti-gang ban on unconventional hairstyles has resulted in “unlawful, indirect racial discrimination which is not justified”, the high court has ruled.

The test case decision is a victory for the family of African-Caribbean teenager “G”, who wears his hair in cornrow braids as part of a family tradition.

G, who cannot be named, and his mother challenged a refusal by St Gregory’s Catholic Science College in Kenton, Harrow, north London, to let G through the school gates with his braids in September 2009, when he was 11.

Mr Justice Collins, sitting in London, ruled that the hair policy was not unlawful in itself, “but if it is applied without any possibility of exception, such as G, then it is unlawful”.

He said in future the school authorities must consider allowing other boys to wear cornrows if it is “a genuine family tradition based on cultural and social reasons”.

Even though the family’s application for judicial review was successful, G, now 13, does not wish to return to the school, which he left in tears on his first day.

“This is an important decision,” said G’s solicitor, Angela Jackman, after the hearing. “It makes clear that non-religious cultural and family practices associated with a particular race fall within the protection of equalities legislation.”

The judge emphasised that the school’s “short back and sides” hair policy was perfectly permissible and lawful, but exceptions had to be made on ethnic and cultural grounds.

He stressed that the school was “not in any way racist” but had made “an honest mistake” in failing to allow for exceptions, adding: “The school has had glowing Ofsted reports and there is no question that it is an excellent school.”

The judge said headteacher Andrew Prindiville had justified the policy as necessary to stop the gang culture prevalent in the area, in which haircuts were used as badges of membership, coming into the school.

Cornrows were not necessarily gang-linked but other styles, like the skinhead haircut, might well have that connection, the judge said.

The fear was that allowing exceptions to the “short back and sides” rule would undermine the anti-gang policy.

But the judge pointed out that exceptions were already made for Rastafarians and Sikh boys who wore hair beyond the collar, and similar exceptions should be made for African Caribbeans.

The judge said G’s family was not alone in regarding cornrows as part of their culture: “There are, on the evidence, other African Caribbeans who take the same view.”

The judge refused the head teacher and governors permission to appeal to the court of appeal, but they can still go to the appeal judge directly to ask them to consider the case.

The judge stressed that he was not ruling on whether the exclusion of G in 2009 was unlawful. It had been suggested that G’s family might bring a county court damages action over the case.

That would be the time to decide whether or not the school had dealt with G’s desire to wear cornrows in an unlawful manner, said the judge.

Jackman said the judge had found the school’s policy unlawful as it applied to African Caribbean boys with G’s beliefs because it indirectly discriminated on race grounds.

She added: “For G, wearing his hair in cornrows is a fundamental cultural practice which would have had no adverse impact upon the school. His wishes, however, were dismissed by the school without any consideration. Whilst schools face the challenges of maintaining good discipline, a community environment and their particular ethos, this case is a reminder that they must do so within the boundaries of the law.”


But Mr Justice Collins, sitting in London, ruled that the hair policy was not unlawful in itself, “but if it is applied without any possibility of exception, such as G, then it is unlawful”.

So it appears a school can still put a ban on cornrow braids when a school regards it as a ‘gang-related’ hairstyle. Unless someone can prove the cornrows are part of his or her cultural tradition.

Also see No nappy hair during classical ballet

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Project: “EOTO-Archiv”– Black German literature archive

In the 1990s Vera Heyer, a Black German lady, began building a collection of books about the black experience in Germany.

Unfortunately she died before she could see her dream become true. A new project entitled ‘EOTO-archiv’ is set up to realize Vera Heyer’s dream to preserve this important part of black German history.

What is the Each One Teach One Archive ( in Berlin, Germany, about?

By Tina Bach

To get literature by Black authors about Black life experiences globally is not an easy thing to accomplish in Germany. And if we are speaking about literature that is already some decades old, it gets even harder. Books that were published either in German or English language by African, Black European, Caribbean, and African American authors can oftentimes only be found in second hand / antiquarian bookshops or in libraries.

To make the diversity of global Black life experiences accessible to a wide audience including the next generations, it is indispensible to maintain such books. This has a special importance if it concerns books written in German language as they offer the unique opportunity for readers to learn about Black literature even without mastering the English or French language. Many literature highlights are still first translated in one of these two languages.

The Each One Teach One Archive ( project in Berlin aims to make an existing archive of about 2000 Black books accessible to the public through building a library structure for it. It is a project that was originally initiated by Vera Heyer, a Black German lady who started building the book collection already in the 1990s. Unfortunately Vera died before she could see her dream become true which is to create a public place for these books so that the goal which was meaningful to her - teaching and learning through literature - can continue.

Currently the Each One Teach One Archive is in the process of being established which includes documenting and structuring the literature, getting a voluntary association registered in order to be able to able for funds, and ultimately to look for an appropriate location in Berlin.

In the meantime while building the project the initiators are using their blog to get people interested in this initiative and to network with other organizations and individuals for whom the topic of knowledge transfer is also essential in their work.

An important aim is to get the next generation, the youth, involved from the beginning. When the project is “live”, the message ‘Each One Teach One’ shall be exercised amongst all participating generations and include all different types of literature (oral and written) and ultimately help create new literature for the future.

See website at

Video: Afro-German writer Olumide Popoola about the difference between Germany and London

Nigerian German writer Olumide Popoola discusses the difference between living in London and Germany, and she reads from a her short novel 'This is not about sadness'.

She is interviewed by Henry Bonsu, the presenter of Shoot The Messenger on the channel Vox Africa.

Olumide Popoola is a Nigerian German performer, poet and writer. She has performed internationally, increasingly also as a guest lecturer or speaker and collaborates with other artists and musicians.

Check out her blog

Diversidad Paris Urban video + remix contest part 2

Beat-makers from all over Europe will compete to remix
"Concrete Jungle" and "Anthem" both produced by Eversor for "The Experience Album".

Enter the contest and win great prizes! More information here.

Video:The Diversidad Show at “Le Trianon” – Paris, May 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

News portal for UK based African and Caribbean Writers

Photo: Alex Wheatle
If you want to stay updated about UK based Black writers, literary events and workshops in the UK, check out the blog UK Black Writers Board.

The author of the blog also tries to keep track of Black writers in the rest of Europe. See the page European Based Authors.

On the blog an interview with British author Alex Wheatle. One of the questions is, why is there, even in the 21st century, still a lack of black writing?

Alex Wheatle: "Publishers don’t trust it. Publishing is too white, really. When you go to the big publishing houses, you rarely see black faces. There’s a fear of taking on black writers. But, in my experience, the British people are very tolerant. I find that at my events, people come because they love reading, they love fiction, they love stories. It seems that those who have the power think: ‘Oh, Alex Wheatle’s books only appeal to the West Indian community’ and for me that’s false. We need to start believing that all kinds of stories can appeal to anybody." Read the full interview here.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Black in Latin America - Brazil a racial Paradise?

Black in Latin American is a four-part series about black people in Latin America. Interesting part, you can watch all episodes also in Europe.

One of the episodes is about Brazil. It's entitled "Brazil a racial Paradise?". In Brazil, Professor Gates delves behind the façade of Carnival to discover how this ‘rainbow nation’ is waking up to its legacy as the world’s largest slave economy. Also check out the comment on this episode on the website Fly Brother.

Friday, June 17, 2011

"Pop Up FashionMarket" in London - July 3rd 2011

Left to right, Cynthia Anduhtabe, Ngum Ngafor and Isabel Bezeng – founders of VAG
New opportunity pops on fashionable Brick Lane on July 3rd in London

Votre Avant Garde (VAG), the creators of critically acclaimed fashion show, CamerCouture are set to makeover summer wardrobes with their latest project, Pop Up FashionMarket.

A trendy bazaar connecting emerging fashion designers and creative businesses with new markets, the event is scheduled to take place at the Real World Gallery in London’s Brick Lane.

It will feature creations from fashion and accessories designers, artists and beauty product sellers.

“The Pop Up market is an off-shoot of CamerCouture,” explained VAG CEO, Cynthia Anduhtabe.“We realised that people enjoyed the fashion shows immensely but also wanted effective ways of purchasing the designers’ unique creations and keeping up to date with their work. However reaching their favourite designers and discovering new ones is often not easy.

Our Pop Up FashionMarket presents a reliable and fun solution to this problem by offering great place for creatives and fashionistas to meet and build lasting relationships,” she added.

The fashion executive is also confident about the value this event - which has gained interest from VoxAfrica TV, glossy magazine, FAB and various bloggers - will deliver for participating designers.“With thousands of regular visitors, Brick Lane is a pulsating fashion hub which bears a bright, multicultural stamp. There’s no better place to venture into new markets and test business ideas,” she observed.

Fashion labels, Amechi Ihenacho, Asakeoge Couture, Rouge by Rachelle, Yaa Ataa Bags, Rococo Chichi, Moko, Nkya and are among participants for the event, scheduled for Sunday July 3rd 2011. Products from hair line Souki will also be on sale.

For information on how to acquire a selling space, please contact Cynthia Anduhtabe on: 07834 321 373 and take advantage of our promotional offer of £65 for fashion and accessories designers and £35 for beauty products.

See an interview by journalist Belinda Otas with Cynthia Anduhtabe, one of founders of Votre Avant Garde. Go to CamerCouture: More Than A Movement

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Report: A Black Belgian in Spain

King Juan Carlos of Spain welcoming Michele Obama and her daughter Sasha

Following the many reactions on the ‘Black people in Spain’ post I decided to interview one of my friends who is black and has been living in Spain and the Canary Islands for more than 6 years. He speaks perfectly Spanish and could (based on language skills) be considered a local. Although we talk about race and identity I never explicitly asked him if he felt Spain was a more racist country than Belgium. I expected it was the same kind of situation.

I was in Spain a few times and as a tourist I always had positive experiences. I visited Barcelona, Bilbao, San Sebastian, the Costa Blanca, Tenerife and Lanzarote. Each time I felt welcome and considered that I could live In that country if I wanted. I didn’t feel more racism there than in Belgium. My friend who grew up in Belgium lived and worked there in the tourist industry. Therefore I thought he might have a more nuanced view on the issue.

Apparently many black people have had very negative experiences in Spain. I wanted to check what his experience was and if he could confirm this. Below I will give you a short report of our interesting conversation.

My friends perspective on racism is that it is a universal thing. People just express it in very different ways. According to him, while there is racism in Belgium, people hide it more than in Spain. In Spain people who don’t like you for your appearance will show you their contempt. In Spain, they rather see you leave their shop than sell you something.

As a tourist (who doesn’t speak very well Spanish) I never experienced such an attitude. But he assured me it could be like that once you were off the tourist track and went in a typical Spanish place, not all of course, but some. He learned not to go to those places where he felt resentment.

Although he assured me that he didn’t experience any police harassment in the first 4 years of his stay in Spain, in the last 2 years he repeatedly got stopped and annoyed by the police. The police treated him as a second rate citizen and even threatened him.

Still, the reason he moved away from Spain has nothing to do with these awful experiences. He actually enjoyed living there and having fine weather all year round. He met friendly and hospital Spanish people too, he met many Northern Europeans who also worked in the tourist industry. So, the negative experiences were never so bad that he couldn’t have a decent living there. He says he was more often treated with respect than not. And he kind of appreciated the honesty of Spanish people. Furthermore, he never really experienced physical threats or physical aggression.

In contrast he says that people in Northern Europe are just as racist but keep it for themselves. There is more shame towards racist thoughts than in Southern Europe. This means that you will experience less negative reactions in the north but that people think the same way, they just express it differently, through the ballot box for instance.

In conclusion he said that being black in Spain is not easy. It is hard for black people all over the world. But most certainly for immigrants who just arrived, Africans who are working at the lowest levels of society and who are often illegal residents. These people live in some kind of hiding, trying to make a living while trying to be invisible for the authorities. There is a lot of hate towards these fortune seekers, and when he experienced bad things he said “they treated me as if I was an African who came just off the boat”. And while he may not be born in Belgium, he grew up here and he considers himself Flemish, Belgian, African, Sudanese, black and European. All these labels of ethnic and cultural identity are not exclusive, they do not contradict each other, he says, they make him complete.

For more info I refer to this nuanced post by the author of Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain (2008), a book about being Black in Spain and Spain's peculiar attitude and history with Black people.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another AfroGerman Killed ...

Today it is11 years ago that Alberto Adriano, a German man of African descent, was killed by three neonazi skinheads. He left a wife and kid. But aggression against black people is not only in the hands of skinheads, police are often quick to treat black people differently and more severely than whites. This sometimes leads to drama’s and even death.

Christy Schwundeck was recently shot and killed during a police intervention in Frankfurt. Next Saturday there will be a protest at Frankfrut’s main rail station in memory of Christy Schwundeck’s death, and all the other casualties. Christy is one of several African descendants living in Germany who have been killed by police in the last decade. Germany hasn’t a monopoly for this kind of violence. People of foreign origin are more likely to be victims of this kind of brutality and several people already died during deportations that go wrong, in Belgium, Austria, Germany and many other European countries.

Below I will list the few cases of AfroGermans or Africans living in Germany who were killed by the police, each time cases where the police never had to take any responsibility for the death whether it’d be an accident or not.

Forensic Science Colleges has information about programs of study for people who want to learn the skills they need to help police solve terrible crimes like this. This is a beneficial option for people who want to help victims and find answers in the wake of tragedies.

These cases are rather hard to find, as many victims were either powerless, unknown, without any family or illegal residents. So this is certainly not a exhaustive list, but just a list of the most well known cases. Furthermore, not only Africans or Black Germans are victims of this kind of violence, but many Germans of foreign origin are. Still Africa descendents seem to be overrepresented:

Christy Schwundeck-Omorodiun 2011 (this article refers to John Anyanwu and John Achidi too)
John Anyanwu 1999
N'deye Mareame Sarr 2001(in German)
John Achidi 2001(in German)
Laye-Alama Condé 2005
Oury Jalloh 2005
Dominik Kuomadio 2006 (this article contains a list of police brutality committed against Africans in Germany)

I want to end this post with this decade old German rap song, bringing together most AfroGerman musicians. This song was a protest reaction after Afriano's brutal death by 3 neonazi's ...

Novel 'Memory of Love' wins Aminatta Forna the Commonwealth Writers' Prize

British writer Aminatta Forna has won this year's Commonwealth Writers Prize, with a powerful portrayal of human resistance in war-torn Sierra Leone.

Aminatta Forna, who was born in Glasgow and raised in Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom, won the prize on Saturday 21st of May in Sydney with her novel The Memory of Love.

The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, is an annual award for best fiction published in the 53 countries of the Commonwealth of Nations, formerly known as the British Commonwealth.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Run for Congo Women - 3rd July 2011 in London

Take part in the 10k Run for Congo, in Regents Park, London on Sunday 3rd July 2011 and help women devastated by the human conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo to rebuild their lives.

100% of the money you raise goes directly to our programmes in Congo, helping women in the war ravaged eastern provinces to rebuild their lives and support themselves and their families.

So far our amazing supporters, including Pamela Stephenson-Connolly, have raised over £77,000 - enough to provide 516 women with Life Skills Training. Be part of the team, that helps us reach £100,000 a year after we launched

For dates in the US go to

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Video: Rochelle wins Dutch X Factor 2011

Rochelle Perts wins Dutch X Factor 2011. With 73% of the votes the 19 old year talent from the Dutch city Hengelo won the competition on 10 June, a competion which lasted 6 months.

One of her winning songs was "No Air" from Jordin Sparks (featuring Chris Brown), which is now released as a debut single.

Rochelle, who is born to a Dutch mother and a Surinamese father, has star power. Simon Cowell of the UK X Factor said she sounds and looks like an international star. And the French fashion magazine L'Officiel featured her in a photo shoot in the June issue. The same magazine where Beyonce was on the cover in February.

According to the X Factor jury and Simon Cowell the shy 19 old year student of the Rock City Institute has to work on one thing. Become aware of her talent.

The studio version

The group Adlicious with Laise Sanches (Dutch/Capverdian) was runner-up

Another talented group in X Factor 2011 was Sim'Ran. The three girls of Surinamese orgin, two sisters and a friend, lost in the semi-finals and ended up in fourth place.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Video: Dutch Neo-Soul/Jazz singer Ntjam Rosie

Photo:Gilles Peterson and Ntjam Rosie
Dutch Neo-Soul/Jazz singer Ntjam Rosie was recently invited to fly over London to join Gilles Peterson on his radio program on BBC 1. Peterson is the widely acclaimed musical tastemaker of the BBC.

The invitation doesn't come as a surprise. In October 2010 she released her highly acclaimed album “Elle”. And in 2011 she released the singles “Space’Of You” and “Morning Glow”. In July she will perform at the famous North Sea Jazz festival in Rotterdam.

The video of ‘Space’Of You’ has Rotterdam all over it. The skyline, the bridge, the space and Ntjam Rosie. And as always she stays close to her Cameroonian roots.

Ntjam Rosie received her Bachelor of Music from the Codarts Conservatory and she won the Music Matters Award gaining her the title of music ambassador of Rotterdam in 2010. Which really is an honour, because Rotterdam is the "silicon vally" of black music in The Netherlands. A lot of creative Neo-Soul, R&B and Jazz singers are from the harbour city.

Rotterdam is a fusion culture city. It's a vibrant mix of cultures from the Cabo Verde, Suriname, Dutch Caribbean and many other cultures. As a an Amsterdam native I have to admit that my city has lost the black music vibe long time ago to Rotterdam.

“In Need” is Gilles Peterson favourite

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Video: The debut EP by Obenewa - Soul from London

Obenewa is a new upcoming singer from the UK. Born of Jamaican and Ghanaian heritage, the west London vocalist is owner to not just a traditional Ghanaian name, but also a dreamy and sultry voice which has captivated her many followers, not to mention being an accomplished pianist and avid guitar player, writes Soul Culture.

She released her new debut EP, simply called "Obenewa"

Also check out the interview of Gilles Peterson here
Update (longer version)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Black people in Russia - News round-up

Photo: Black Girl in Russia
I stumbled upon the the blog of J. B. Ross, Black Girl in Russia, and I thought it would be the right moment to post some information on Russia again. So, a short news round-up.

Blog: Black Girl in Russia - The Journey of a Natural Sister in Russia
An very interesting blog of a black American student who studied in St. Peterburg for 9 months. With observations, musings and photos. Look past the hair angle and you will find some interesting information about what it's like for a non-Russian black person to study in Russia.
Also check out the interview on Curly Nikki

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Black Europeans - Special issue of The African Courier

The magazine The African Courier has published a special issue about Black Europeans.

The intro: "Black Europeans. 2011 is the UN’s International Year for People of African Descent. In the spirit of the Year, we focus on Black Europeans in this issue, presenting them as an entity by themselves and not as an extension of the colonialist or post-colonialist dynamics."

The issue starts with an essay of African American poet, playwright and journalist Gyavira Lasana, who was also appointed as an editor for this special issue.

He makes a historical excursion and a voyage into the future of Black Europe. And he writes on the history of African Americans in Europe and points out the essential difference between their experience and that of their compatriots from the African continent.

And a story of Dutch author Furaha Kensmil, who explains why she feels like a foreigner in both Suriname and the Netherlands, which prides itself as a colour-blind nation while advancing anti-immigrant policies.

But there is much more, so read about more about this issue at

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fozyatou - “I am Germany’s first black female firefighter”

Via: Black Germans
Fozyatou (18) is the first black female firefighter of Germany. Location: The small town of Binsförth (260 inhabitants) in Hessen, wrote

Fozyatou arrived in Hessen with her mother from Togo when she was just a baby. She grew up with the German nursery school, Hesse Green Sauce and the youth fire brigade. "At the fire department there was always something going on. There were festivals, competitions, camps. Everyone wanted to go."

The first experiences with water gave her so much fun that she wanted to be a real fire-fighter. Fozyatou: "A few weeks ago I finished my basic training successfully. Now I am there when there is a fire somewhere."

Your team at the Volunteer Fire Brigade is Binsförth 20 men and four women strong. On average, there are many ladies here.

This is not true everywhere. The German Fire Service Association is urgently seeking females.

"As a woman you will not be looked at suspiciously anymore if you want to join fire brigade," said Fozyatou”. But as an African woman you will stand out.

Fozyatou: "Most speak to me about my hair. My mother weaves it according to an old Togolese tradition. It takes 18 hours each time." However: "Getting the thick braids under the helmet, is not so easy. "

Since the flight of mother Fozyatou never returned to their homeland Togo.. "I would love to go there," she says, "but I'm already at home in Germany."

Over two years, Germany's first black firefighter will graduate . What she wants to do it, she knows very well. Fozyatou: "I want to be a policewoman, but after work, in any case I will continue to put out fires."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Event: "I'm Possible" - Empowering young women of colour in Britain (15th June)

Via Lisa Bent (Deeper than twitter)
I’mPOSSIBLE is a social enterprise founded by Simone Bresi-Ando. The aim is to educate and empower young women of colour in Britain, by promoting, highlighting and showcasing the achievements of successful individuals and their life stories, helping to encourage and inspire others along their individual paths.

The I’mPOSSIBLE.conversation, is a series of intimate panel led events taking place in central London.

The first, sponsored by premium hair care brand Mizani, will be held on Wednesday 15th June and hosted by vivacious actress Tameka Empson.

Sitting on the panel will be high profile industry professional’s playwright and critic Bonne Greer OBE, comedian Angie Le Mar, journalist and newsreader Charlene White, former commissioning editor for Channel 4 Daytime Angela Ferreira and author Precious Williams. Hear their stories, find out how they became POSSIBLE and how you can be POSSIBLE to.

Tickets are £25 and can be purchased online:

I'mPOSSIBLE. conversation
Wednesday 15th June 2011
6pm - 9pm

6-7 Southampton Street

For more information about I'mPOSSIBLE please visit:

2011 Year of the French Overseas Territories

The Year of the French Overseas Territories, or in French "2011, année des Outre-mer", is almost halfway, but there are still some mayor events on the agenda.

The Year of Overseas Territories is a celebration of France and its diversity. The focus is on the "identities" of the twelve overseas departments and collectivities in all areas: culture, institutions, education, environment, economy, tourism, fine art, etc.

For more information about the French Overseas Territories and the upcoming events see

Video of the official kick-off with Marie-Luce Penchard, the minister of the Overseas Territories

And an interesting documentary about the history of the Overseas Territories.

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