Monday, August 29, 2011

Interview: Dutch Middle East correspondent Nicole Le Fever is back

Dutch news correspondent Nicole Le Fever (46) returned to The Netherlands after a five-year stay in the Middle East. Le Fever, who is born to a Dutch father and a Surinamese mother, is a prime time news reporter for the Dutch public Broadcasting service the NOS. In a recent interview with the VARA she talked about her experiences in the Middle East and how it had changed her. Some snippets from the interview.

Your back for three weeks now, how does it feel?
It’s good to see friends and family again. I am still busy landing. There needs to be done a lot. I am running from one place to the other for stamps and insurances. It’s all very well organised in the Netherlands. If you have forgotten a document in the Middle East, you say you forgot to apply for it. Than everyone understands and everything will be fine.

Was it difficult to leave?
In fact I would have returned in December, so I think it’s great I stayed a half year longer to be able to report about the Arab spring. I leave a world behind of people who I have come to love. I have cried when we said goodbye to our friends and their children, so yes I left with pain in my heart.

The Arab spring now has a setback. Were we to positive when we thought the revolution was irreversible?

Yes, we, the West, saw the young people on the Tahir Square and thought oh, so great, those people want to be just like us. They want democracy modelled after the West. For us self-actualization, individualism and freedom of speech are very important. But during the Egyptian revolution people fought for basic rights such as justice, respect and dignity. Religion and family play a bigger part than in the West, also for the protesters in jeans. Everyone is part of a larger part, of a family who has always taken care of you. Which the State doesn’t. They now fight for a job on the basis of quality in stead on the basis of having the right connections. That your sick child gets the same treatment as the child of the President.

Is it possible to overthrow regimes?
You can always send a dictator away, but the system sits between the ears of people. The hierarchal thinking is very deep ingrained in the mind. Even at the football club or a human rights organisation there is often a leader, who as he speaks silence the rest and dictates everything. It takes time to break trough that. Just like the corruption and de connection-culture. If I have a good job somewhere and you are my sister I will try to arrange a job for you, because else your children won’t have any food.

What was your most touching moment of the Arab spring?
There were so much beautiful moments. Louba, a young activist of the first our, told me when soldier stood next to her that the army carried out very humiliating "virginity tests" on female protesters. I asked her if we shouldn’t stand somewhere else. She said: “No, what can he do to me?” She said that she would go on fighting, that she had just started. She Western dressed, her friend dressed in a niqab. I don’t know if she and all the others are going to make it, but they are going somewhere. Many people have lost their fear en have gained more dignity. Maybe it will take a long time until the system has changed, but they have changed most certainly.

The years you have been gone the fear of Islam has grown with some people in The Netherlands. Some doubted the existence of moderate Muslims.

The moderate Muslim? What nonsense. We don’t talk about moderate Christians. I absolutely don’t share the fear of Islam. I have lived there five years and saw how people practice their faith totally different. Some people went to the mosque five times a day, others didn’t go at all. No one tried to convert me.

On the internet people call you a liberal journalist.
My father is from the Dutch province of Zealand and my mother is born in Suriname, so I am product of two cultures. From that perspective I see the world, not with a liberal or a conservative view. My father was completely colour blind, he always has been, but he voted conservative and read a the conservative Dutch paper “De Telegraaf”. He believed in the equality of races, religions, and sexes.

How do you see woman rights in Islamic countries.
There are big differences between all these countries. But generally women have a weaker position when it comes to legal issues as custody and divorce. But still the image of the poor suppressed woman in the Middle East is not correct. There are big problems, but you come across more powerful and courageous woman than here.

Have you changed by living in the Middle East
You should ask my friends and relatives. But I fitted in the Middle East, I think. I was always close with my family and I am not so individualistic. Also not so rude en direct. You see the directness in your own country much better and also your own rudeness. I know that individualism is very important, but I also see that being part of larger group can also be valuable.

You are very positive about the Middle East, but is everything is that great?
I began loving the people, not the systems. Of course it’s difficult to live in a dictatorship. The fear is the worst. I have met people who were to afraid to open their mouths and only trusted their own family. People who are open to the camera you sometimes need to protect, because there is an embassy in The Netherlands and my items are also on the internet. I will use that information, but I don’t show from who it’s from.

As a general reporter you will also have go back to typical Dutch items. They will be silly items compared with those in the Middle East.
Of course it’s giant step from the Tahir Square to the Dutch tulip exhibition. But I have done a lot of general reporting, which was often very interesting. People are awesomely interesting. Their dreams, their wishes and what they fight for and the things they love. Those stories I want to tell.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

UNHCR concerned as sub-Saharan Africans targeted in Libya

© BBC BBC footage of a group of Africans from sub-Saharan countries being rounded up in Tripoli. News Stories, 26 August 2011

GENEVA, August 26 (UNHCR) – UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres has issued a strong call for sub-Saharan Africans to be protected in Libya as reports emerge from Tripoli of people being targeted because of their colour as the city fell to rebel forces.

UNHCR spoke by phone on Friday to one scared African, Ahmed, a Somali who has been living in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and teaching at the university there, since 2007. He has stayed on in the city since anti-government protests in the North African country turned violent in February, leading to all-out war between the Muammar Gaddafi regime and rebel forces.

Ahmed said he did not feel directly threatened. But now, as rebels take over the city, he wants to leave. Since most neighbourhoods in Tripoli fell to rebels earlier this week, sub-Saharan Africans like Ahmed are again being singled out.

"If they see you are African, that you are black, they will target you," said Ahmed, reached in his home. He said local residents, many of whom are armed, are in the streets, setting up roadblocks. "The situation is very difficult here," he told UNHCR. "You can't leave your home even for water."

As a result, he and other Somalis in the community with whom they are in contact are running out of vital supplies. One group of Somalis was attacked when they tried to leave their apartment in another part of the city, he said, leaving one man injured. "It's really very desperate."

Sub-Saharan Africans, especially those from Niger, Chad and Sudan, have been targeted by both sides after it became known that some sub-Saharan Africans had worked as mercenaries for the Gaddafi regime. Many migrants fled to neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia. But several hundred did not.

They are trapped in the capital as, once again, people with black skin are being accused of siding with the dictator. "Anyone who is black, they say they are against them," said Ahmed, who has family in the United States and a visa awaiting him in Tunis, if he can reach there safely.

The High Commissioner has urged restraint from rebel forces and Libyan civilians. "We have seen at earlier stages in this crisis that such people, Africans especially, can be particularly vulnerable to hostility or acts of vengeance," he said.

"It is crucial that humanitarian law prevails through these climactic moments and that foreigners – including refugees and migrant workers – are being fully and properly protected from harm," he stressed. ---

I am happy for the rebels that they have got rid of a dictator and that they have chance to build a new society with more equality. But I hope the same rebels don't want to go down in history as fanatic racist Arabs, who are lawlessly killing “people of African Descent”. Because that's exactly how it looks on TV.

I use the word "people of African descent", because this year is the international year of people of African Descent. And as Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said it: “This International Year offers a unique opportunity to redouble our efforts to fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance that affect people of African descent everywhere.”

The UN couldn’t have picked a better year.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Meet UK's media pioneer Jamal Edwards

Jamal Edwards, founder of popular online broadcaster SBTV, today announced via Twitter that Channel 4 who earlier this year aired a one off documentary titled Inside SBTV, now want to turn it in to a series.

But who is Jamal Edwards? Jamal Edwards is the black CEO and founder of SBTV – UK’s largest youth media channel, which he started at the age of just 16. Now 20, Jamal has continued to push the boundaries and has come a long way.

In the past few months he has been profiled in The Guardian, been tipped as one of the UK’s top young entrepreneurs by Richard Branson​, signed a label deal with Sony RCA, announced as the face of New Era’s first European campaign and now he has been made the face of the new Google Chrome advert.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Video: Melissa NKonda, VV Brown - "J'Ai Fait Tout Ca Pour Vous" - French FAAC nominee

French singer Melissa NKonda is nominated for the French "Trophées des Arts Afro-Caribéens (FAAC)" ("Afro-Caribbean Arts Awards") in the category Best Newcomer of the year 2011. Nkonda’s debut album is "Noveaux Horizons", which is an homage to her Algerian and Cameroonian roots. One of the tracks is "J'Ai Fait Tout Ca Pour Vous", which she recorded with English singer VV Brown (Vanessa Brown).

The awards ceremony will be held on September 12, 2011 in Paris France. You can vote for your favorite artist at the website of France Ô at

Sunday, August 21, 2011

National memorial ceremony Norway - Sunday 21 August

photo of Modupe Ellen Awoyemi
The Government of Norway holds a national memorial ceremony in the wake of the attacks 22 July on the Government buildings and on Utøya.

The ceremony takes place in Oslo Spektrum on Sunday 21 August at 3 pm.
Bereaved families, survivors and others directly affected by the attacks will be invited, along with rescuers, health workers and other contributors, as well as representatives from the official Norway.

We also remember the 15-year-old the Nigerian girl Modupe Ellen Awoyemi, who was killed in Utoya Norway. She was the daughter of the city council politician Lola Awoyemi. Described as a kind and open girl, who was active in AUF discussions.

The song "Never Would Have Made It" of Marvin Sap was also dedicated to remember the four young girls who lost their lives in the 1963 racist bombing attack in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963

Anders Behring Breivik has admitted killing 77 people last month when he first detonated a truck bomb outside government offices in Oslo, and then went on a meticulously planned shooting spree at a youth camp on the island of Utoya, some 25 miles (40 kilometres) away.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Race: Are We So Different? - An American exhibit

The project "Race: Are We So Different?" is an American exhibit that helps people to understand what race is and what it is not.

About the exhibit: We all know that people look different. Throughout history, those differences have been a source of strength, community and personal identity. They have also been the basis for discrimination and oppression.

And while those differences are socially and culturally real, contemporary scientific understanding of race and human variation is complex and may challenge how we think about it. RACE: Are We So Different? helps visitors understand what race is and what it is not. It gives them the tools to recognize racial ideas and practices in contemporary American life.

The exhibit explores three themes: the everyday experience of race, the contemporary science that is challenging common ideas about race, and the history of this idea in the United States.

Everyday Experience of Race
Race is embedded in virtually all aspects of American life. Explore social and personal experiences of race in familiar settings such as home and neighborhood, health and medicine, and education and schools. Discover that race and racism is not inside our heads, but in fact is built into our laws, traditions, and institutions.

The Science of Human Variation
Racial and ethnic categories, which have changed over time, are human-made. We now know that human beings are more alike genetically than any other living species. Scientifically, no one gene, or any set of genes, can support the idea of race. This section focuses on what current science knows about human variation and our species' history.

History of the Idea of Race
Race has not always existed. Sorting people by physical differences is a recent invention, only a few hundred years old. Discover how the development of the idea of race is closely linked to the early development of the United States.

Check the website at

They should bring this exhibit to Europe.

Friday, August 19, 2011

London: Black Musical Adaptation of "A Clockwork Orange"

Anthony Burgess’ cult novel A Clockwork Orange is re-imagined for London’s Theatre Royal Stratford East stage on the eve of its 50th anniversary. This reworked production will be performed from Saturday 3 September – Saturday 1 October 2011 at 7.30pm, with matinees at 2.30pm.

In this new adaptation, New York writers Ed DuRanté (words) and Fred Carl (music) return to the original source of Anthony Burgess’ book and importantly, his last chapter of redemption and hope. This iconic story influenced and inspired music stars and artists including Gnarls Barkley, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Andy Warhol and, of course, Stanley Kubrick, who made the famous film.

When super-intelligent Alex’s ultra-violent lifestyle catches up with him, he is imprisoned and entered into a government experiment called The Technique, aimed at ending all crime. He quickly finds himself in an unexpected and life-altering personal horror show. The piece has a contemporary score that draws from groove-based styles like blues, r&b, rap, neo-soul and jazz, this promises to bring fresh resonance to a modern classic.

Fred Carl says ‘The last chapter of A Clockwork Orange, which was omitted from the first American editions of the novel and does not appear in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film, was an important reason why we accepted the commission from Theatre Royal Stratford East. It’s exciting to work with the venue on this piece.’

Ed DuRanté says ‘A Clockwork Orange has given us the opportunity to explore a classic piece of literature and use it to comment on the challenges that are faced by the Black community, but at the same time speaks to the broader society about every person’s responsibility for their own actions.’

Ed DuRanté is a playwright and filmmaker. His work has been produced by Theatre for the New City, Talking Drum Theatre Co., and Playwrights Horizons. He was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for Filmmaking. Presently, he is in post-production with his first feature film, the Black black comedy Jake Gets Paid. He is a graduate of the NYU/Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program, the NYU/Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program and Yale University. Recently, Fred Carl and he worked on their adaptation of “A Clockwork Orange” as the inaugural writers at the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat. Next, he is directing the film Clay Feet starring Terrance Howard and Anthony Mackie. Developed from his own script, the film examines the early friendship between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X.

Fred Carl’s extensive career includes musical directing Kirsten Childs’s The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin where Fred received the 2000 Audelco Award for Best Musical Direction. He composed and musical directed Tony Award-winning actress LaChanze at Lincoln Centre and has a long association with Theatre Royal Stratford East starting in 1999. He designed and co-led (with Robert Lee) the musical theatre-writing workshop which featured in Channel Four’s Rappin' at the Royal and is Artistic Associate of the theatre. He is a graduate of the New York University/Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program and currently an Associate Arts Professor of the Program.

A Clockwork Orange is directed by Dawn Reid, Associate Director of the Theatre Royal Stratford East. Her numerous directing credits for the theatre includes Funny Black Women on the Edge and Ade Ikoli’s Diary of a Single Man. She is the Co-Director of The Harder They Come(Barbican, West End, Toronto and Miami); Mad Blud; and Rikki Beadle Blair’s Family Man. Other theatre credits include Associate Director on Avenue Q (Noël Coward Theatre) and the recipient of a Carlton Multicultural Achievement Award for Performing Arts.

Jonzi D is the Movement Director of the piece. He is Associate of Sadlers Wells, his production Aeroplane Man was a sell out success and screened on Channel 4. The cast features Ashley Hunter as Alex, Darren Hart as Pete, Susan Lawson Reynolds, Richard Lloyd-King, Sonny Muslim as Georgie, Marcus Powell, Kirris Riviere, Raphael Sowole and Vanessa Sylvester.
Theatre Royal Stratford East has a reputation for developing and staging new musicals including The Big Life - the first Black British musical in the West End; The Harder They Come - currently in pre-production for its second international tour after successful runs at Barbican and in the West End;Come Dancing winner of a What’s On Stage Best Off-West End Production Award and Britain’s Got Bhangra - winner of an Off West End Award for The People's Favourite Musical. This famous producing theatre prides itself on reflecting the concerns and hopes of the people of East London. The venue inspires and is inspired by its vibrant, young and diverse community in a continuous loop that draws from and engages with audiences.

A Clockwork Orange will be performed from Saturday 3 September – Saturday 1 October 2011.
Tickets: £20 / £15 and £10 concessions (Tues – Thursday until 22 Sept); £22 / £17 concessions (Fri and Sat eves & last week of run); Evening performances are at 7.30pm, matinees are 2.30pm, there will be Saturday matinees on 24 September and 1 October. Box office 020 8534 0310
BSL interpreted Tuesday 27 September 7.30pm
Captioned Friday 30 September 7.30pm
Audio-described Saturday 1 October 2.30pm

Pay what you want Saturday 17 September 2.30pm. Available to Newham residents who have never been to see a show at Theatre Royal Stratford East before. Call 020 8534 0310 and quote Pay what you want when booking – tickets must be booked in advance and proof of residence must be shown on collection of tickets.

Bloggers Preview: Saturday 3 September, 7.30pm
Press Night: Tuesday 13 September, 7.30pm

For interviews, tickets and images please contact Kim Morgan PR on 020 8279 1120, 07939 591 403 email

Tweet Zone and Bloggers Preview

Theatre Royal Stratford East is breaking all the rules of British theatregoing and embracing the digital age by inviting people to get out their smartphones and tweet during performances. There is a designated Tweet Zone fully equipped with WiFi available for every main stage performance and there’ll be no shushing from the ushers. Audience members are free to update their online communities with their thoughts on the show and the experience at the theatre whenever they want. Bloggers Previews is an opportunity for Theatre Royal Stratford East to encourage further online engagement and commentary about its work it by inviting writers from all parts of the blogosphere to attend a show before its official press night so that they can get online and express their views freely.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Film "Tula The Revolt" opens Dutch colonial wounds

Repeating Islands wrote that without hitting the theaters yet, forthcoming Dutch Caribbean film "Tula The Revolt" is proving to be quite controversial [see New Film: Jeroen Leinders’ “Tula, the Revolt”].

Jermain Ostiana has written a response to pre-production reviews on the film website; he sees the film, directed by Jeroen Leinders, as an exploitation of Tula, the liberation warrior who sought abolition of slavery in Curaçao. See excerpts with a link to the full post below:

[. . .] As United Nations declared 2011 the year of Afro descendants how in nomber di Dios (for heaven’s sake) can you green light a project of 2 Dutch European filmmakers who came up on this insensitive idea to do a movie about our recently declared freedom fighting national hero Tula? With the help from two Afro-Americans: a screenplay writer Curtis Hawkins and Warrington Hudlin a pioneering black filmmaker, activist and advocate for independent black film movement, who should’ve know better [than] to participate in the exploitation of Tula.

On the website they are talking about: “A story representing centuries of conflicted relations between black and white the effects of which still haunt us today.” And it does, as the two Dutch white privileged filmmakers cold heartedly or extreme naively kidnap the opportunity of Afro Curaçaoans or at least Curaçaoans to tell the tales of freedom fighting Tula. [. . .] Was the announcement of this project lucid? No, there has been no transparency whatsoever of the commission in approving the making of ‘Tula The Revolt’. No one knows the criteria, no national hero law has been made public if there is such a law, we the people sure didn’t have democratic participation in it and therefore no one can scrutinize to see if the right procedures are just and were used which resulted in an approval.

A few lines from their summary: “As many slaves were transported and traded through Caribbean transit harbors like the one in Curaçao, this story belongs to them and their descendants it deserves to be told, for it is an important part of history, identity and in the end of our society today.” So they understand the story of Tula is ours, but morals and respect for our own emancipatory path that we as descendants have to walk fade away for a $25 million Hollywood adventure?

[. . .] In 2005 I wrote a poem called: ‘F..k Tula’ because obviously just like now only a small group is genuinely interested in uplifting this heroic character. Every year on August 17, no media will even live transmit or dedicate afterwards a full spread to the commemoration in Holland or in Curaçao; it has no cultural priority at all. The first monument made was in 1963 the second one in 1998 at Rif far away from the public eye, unlike Louis Brion, a Venezuelan national hero who occupies our biggest square in the heart of Otrobanda; sad but true: it took us to overcome an identity crisis of 48 years to proclaim him as a national hero.

[. . .] The re-enslavement of Tula, the greatest fighting spirit of our times, for commercial glory, international fame, is an act of neo-colonial villainy. A regime of critical thinkers and activists who sleep on this will have to deal with this when their ancestors lace them with the consequences. Everyone involved can still correct this injustice.

For full review, see

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Multicultural web TV in Italy

Two web TV channels are proving there’s something missing from mainstream media for Italy’s young multiethnic society.

The face and faces of modern-day Italy have changed considerably over the past 30 years. From a country of emigrants, Italy has become a country of immigrants. This is the Italy you meet in the streets, on the trains, at the supermarket…but not on the television, unless you’re watching the crime news.

That’s the view shared by the staff of Crossing TV and Lookout TV, two web television channels that reflect a growing dissatisfaction with what’s on offer on national television stations. While Italy’s ethnic minorities get a bad press, so too does its youth, according to Crossing TV’s founder, Silvia Storelli. “They aren’t painted in a very good light by Italian mass media: drugs, binge drinking, reckless driving after nights out clubbing, social problems. They never talk about young people’s passions, their creativity, things like that. It’s simply missing.”

The Bolognese filmmaker, who set up the web channel in her home town in February 2008, proudly describes it as the first cross-generational and cross-cultural channel in Italy. She says the two go hand-in-hand since Italy’s youth is now full of diversity. “National channels just don’t cater for them. You can’t fail to notice young people’s decreasing interest in what’s on offer, and their growing preference for the computer screen over the television screen.” Read the full story at
Doha Centre

Video Crossing TV
The well known Senegalese documentary and filmmaker Fatou Kande Senghor was invited to Bologna to give a workshop (in July) at the Italian theatre company "ITC Teatro di San Lazzaro".

Crossing TV, the video channel of the "Nuove Generazioni", interviewed her at the grand finale of the workshop and also made a small impression of the food and the African sounds.

Lookout TV

An interview in Italian with three writers. Writer Igiaba Scego, Brazilian born writer Claudiléia Lemes Dias and Amara Lakhous. Lakhous was born in Algiers and lives in Rome. He wrote the novel
Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio
and he is winner of Italy’s prestigious Flaiano prize.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Italian writer Igiaba Scego interviewed by Vogue Black

@Vogue Black
Igiaba Scego was born in Rome in 1974 to Somali parents. She writes for l’Unità, “Internazionale” and many other magazines that talk about migrations and African cultures, such as “Nigrizia”. Among her books: Pecore nere (Laterza 2005), Oltre Babilonia (Donzelli 2008) and La mia casa è dove sono (Rizzoli 2010) winner of the Mondello award.

In the interview she talks about what she loves and what she hates.

Her advice from the summer. "Read (lots and lots), love others, eat healthy and believe in a world where violence has no place."

Read the full interview on
Photos of Scego at

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Video: TLF Feat Corneille "Le Meilleur Du Monde" - French FAAC nominee

The clip "Le Meilleur Du Monde" of French rapper TLF and French R&B singer Corneille is nominated for the French "Trophées des Arts Afro-Caribéens (FAAC)" ("Afro-Caribbean Arts Awards") in the category Clip of the Year 2011.

The awards ceremony will be held on September 12, 2011 in Paris France. You can vote for your favorite artist at the website of France Ô at

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Video: "Black culture turned whites into looters," says British historian

The Voice reports that well know British historian and broadcaster David Starkey has been blasted for his comments on BBC TV where he blamed ‘black culture’ for turning white youngsters into looters.

In a discussion on BBC2's Newsnight show, Starkey said he had been re-reading racist MP Enough Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech.

Starkey claimed: "His prophesy was absolutely right in one sense. The Tiber did not foam with blood but flames lambent, they wrapped around Tottenham and wrapped around Clapham," he said.

“The whites have become black. A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture has become the fashion. And black and white, boy and girl, operate in this language together, this language which is wholly false, which is this Jamaican patois that’s been intruded in England, and this is why so many of us have this sense of literally a foreign country.” He added.

To further outrage, the historian went on to say: “Listen to David Lammy (MP), an archetypical successful black man,” he said. “If you turned the screen off so you were listening to him on radio you’d think he was white.”

The association being that those who speak like a ‘white person’ are civilised and those who speak with “Jamaican patois’ are criminals.

Writer and education adviser Dreda Say Mitchell, a fellow guest on the show, was clearly annoyed with Starkey’s comments.

She said to Starkey: “You said David Lammy when you heard him sounded white and what you meant by that is that white people equals respectable.”

She added: "You keep talking about black culture. Black communities are not homogenous. So there are black cultures. Lots of different black cultures. What we need to be doing is ... thinking about ourselves not as individual communities ... as one community. We need to stop talking about them and us."

HIT BACK:Dreda Say Mitchel

Read it on The Voice here

"UK and London riots: Let’s hear the voice of the youth," says Lola Adesioye

CNN interview: Social commentator Lola Adesioye says a widening gap between haves and have-nots spawned the UK riots.

Writer-activist Lola Adesioye was born and raised in South London. On her blog she writes." Watching what has been taking place over the past week got my blood boiling in a way that I was even surprised by…I’m more upset because I think that what’s happened was predictable and obvious to anyone who would take the time to look.

That the politicians and even some people living in the country didn’t see it shows just how out of touch they are with what’s going on under their noses. What leadership can a leader provide when he is out of touch with ALL of his constituents?


To start off, here’s a video that is very telling. Rarely during this whole sorry mess has anyone heard from the young people even though it seemed to be mostly young people and/or young adults involved in the violence.

The attitude seems to be that they don’t have anything intelligent to say, or anything that’s worth listening to. It’s that snobbish attitude that is also partly what created this mess in the first place – when people are not heard, they will act out. In any case, they are the ones that we most need to hear from.

This video below was filmed two weeks before the riots…. The kids predicted this would happen."

Read the full story on her blog

Her articles appeared in The Guardian, The Economist,, The Washington Post’, CNN, BBC, BET, Channel 4, MSNBC and The Huffington Post.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Images of the Afro-German community gathering "ISD-Bundestreffen 2011"

Via: Black Germans
Every year the black community in Germany organises a special community gathering called the "Bundestreffen". This year the gathering was held 4-7 August in Helmarshausen Germany.

Also see the story on Afro-Europe: 25 Years of ISD: Initiative Black People in Germany

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Report & Videos: The Sad Truth Behind The UK Riots

Not much can be said about the ongoing rioting in the UK. But as cuts in social and cultural budgets got worse in the last years, youth in the UK's poorest neigbourhoods passed a summer without open air activities nor social safety net. This is no excuse but the unrest was predicted and sooner or later this would have happened. Read this article below and check the two video's I posted, I think they give a very interesting insight.

The Sad Truth Behind London Riot
From worldblog.msnbc By Martin Fletcher, NBC News correspondent

LONDON -- As political and social protests grip the Middle East, are growing in Europe and a riot exploded in north London this weekend, here's a sad truth, expressed by a Londoner when asked by a television reporter: Is rioting the correct way to express your discontent?

"Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?"

The TV reporter from Britain's ITV had no response. So the young man pressed his advantage. "Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."

Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere.

The truth is that discontent has been simmering among Britain's urban poor for years, and few have paid attention. Social activists say one out of two children in Tottenham live in poverty. It's one of the poorest areas of Britain. Britain's worst riots in decades took place here in 1985. A policeman was hacked to death. After these riots, the same young man pointed out, "They built us a swimming pool."

Poverty, joblessness cycle
Police and local leaders in Tottenham made real progress in improving community relations in the intervening years and that's true about all of Britain. The best way to prevent crime, the theory goes, is to improve the lot of the people, then they won't need to commit crimes. But caught in a poverty and joblessness cycle, young people in many British urban areas have little hope of a better life.

So when a local 29-year-old father, described by police as a gangster, was shot dead by an officer, the response came quickly.

Mark Duggan was killed Thursday. On Saturday night about 50 relatives and friends protested outside the Tottenham police station.

Local young men, almost all with their heads covered by hoods -- known here as "hoodies" -- took advantage to indulge themselves in a favorite sport: cursing the police. This quickly escalated into a night of hurling rocks, bottles (Jack Daniels, one young man told me -- "we broke into the liquor store, drank the Jack Daniels and threw the bottles at the cops"), burning two patrol cars, torching buildings, smashing shop windows and carting off hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of phones, cameras and clothes.

The looting and rioting had nothing at all to do with the killing of Mark Duggan. That was the spark. The bonfire had been prepared by years of neglect, fueled by the anger of young men with no stake in the system, angry at everybody and quick to exploit fury at the killing of a local man, even if he did allegedly fire at the police officer first.

So now the question people in Tottenham are asking is: Will the government pay attention to the social issues underlying the anger?

And a wider question is: Would anyone care at all if there had not been violence?

end of post from Martin Fletcher, NBC News correspondent

Below a video, the first part is the most interesting with a local explaining why these riots happened. Nobody condones it, it's awful, but there is an underlying cause which should be known by all:

The French Afro-Caribbean Arts Awards 2011 in Paris (Sept 12th)

The sixth edition of the "Trophées des Arts Afro-Caribéens (TAAC)" ("Afro-Caribbean Arts Awards") will be held September 12, 2011 at the théâtre du Châtelet in Paris France and will be broadcasted on Sept. 18 on the French public television network France Ô.

The show will be presented by Audrey Chauveau and Sébastien Folin.

Compilation of 2009 and 2010

list of candidates

Category: Artist of the Year
RColonel Reyel, Dominik Coco, Alpha Blondy, Danyel Waro

Category: Clip of the year
Fanny J Feat Black Kent, Colonel Reyel, TLF Feat Corneille, Soprano.

Category: Best Group of the Year.
Sexion d’Assaut, Staff Benda Bilili, Didye Kegrin Ek Soul KAMAYANN, Bamboolaz .

Category: Newcomer of the Year.
Mélissa Nkonda, Patrice Hulman, Tsenga, Colonel Reyel.

You can vote for your favorite artist at the website of France Ô at

Two performances in the Awards of 2010

Ben L'Oncle Soul

Lynsha feat Neg'Marrons "Mon idéal"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

‘No Evidence That Mark Duggan Fired At Officers’

Copyright The Voice: JUSTICE: Semone Wilson, fiancee of Mark Duggan, (left) arrives with two unidentified women at North London Coroner's Court in High Barnet
The Voice reported that the Police watchdog says that there is no evidence to suggest that 29-year-old shot at police

NEW EVIDENCE has revealed that Mark Duggan, the man whose death has triggered riots across Britain, did not shoot at police before he was gunned down in north London, last week (Aug 4).

Ballistic results obtained by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) show that the 29-year-old father of five did not open fire before he was shot and killed by police in a pre-planned operation to arrest him.

The IPCC said it had carried out ballistic tests on a handgun found at the scene, thought to have been owned by Duggan, and found that the gun had not been discharged.

The UK’s Forensic Science Service is to carry out further tests on the weapon to verify this.

Initial reports suggested that Mr Duggan was killed after first firing at police from the Met’s specialist firearms team C019, which his family and those that knew him rejected, but the IPCC report shows that only two shots were fired – both from a police gun.

Results from the coroner’s office show that Mr Duggan died from a single bullet wound to the chest. He also received a second gunshot wound to his right bicep. (Source: The Voice)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Video: Belgian singer Stromae released video "Peace or violence"

The Belgian singer-songwriter Stromae, real name Paul Van Haver, released the video "Peace or violence", which is a song from his studio album Cheese (2010).

Stromae has distinguished himself in both hip hop and electronic music. He first became famous with the song "Alors on danse" which remained at number one for several weeks in numerous countries throughout Europe. Stromae was born in Brussels to a Rwandan father and a Belgian mother.

The blog Africa is Country wrote about him. "Stromae seems determined to turn every song on his 2010 album Cheese into a hit. A video like the one above will no doubt help. I’ve always been surprised by articles digging for his ‘Rwandan roots’ (e.g. “in Africa, I am considered white”), for in Belgium we just know him as the dude from Alors on Danse (and its hilarious ‘making-of’ you must have seen by now)."

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Notting Hill Carnival 2011 (August 28th and 29th)

The Notting Hill Carnival is a street procession and festival which takes place in the area of west London known as Notting Hill during the long Bank Holiday weekend at the end of August. This year on August 28th and 29th.

The festival is organised by the Caribbean community in London and is one of the largest street celebrations in Europe. It has been taking place annually for about 40 years.

A video of Notting Hill Carnival 2010 with Katy B & Ms Dynamite (sister of rapper Akala)

There are five key components of the carnival, each organised by a different association:
- Calypso (ABC - Association of British Calypsonians)
- Soca (CMA - Caribbean Music Association)
- Static Sound Systems (BASS - British Association of Sound Systems)
- Masquerade (NHMBA - Notting Hill Mas Bands Association)
- Steelpan (BAS - British Association of Steelbands)

The National Panorama Championship is a steel band competition on Saturday 27 August 2011. Artists will perform on stage during the afternoon. The competition usually takes place from about 5pm-9:30pm in London's Hyde Park.

British Urban film Festival 2011 (16-18 Sept in London)

Photo of film "David is Dying"
British Urban film Festival 2011 (BUFF), 16, 17 and 18 September. All screenings take place at Congress House 23-28 Great Russell Street, London WC1.

The British Urban Film Festival (BUFF) was formed in July 2005 to showcase urban independent cinema in the absence of any such state-sponsored activity in the UK.

The 2011 festival is being headlined by the UK premiere of 'David is Dying' at London's Trade Union Congress headquarters and stars Lonyo Engele, a former UK garage music artist in his debut acting role.

The London-based organisation BUFF was initially created in partnership with organisations like The Screen.Biz (UK) and The Hip-Hop Association (USA) to mobilise & develop young, up and coming homegrown British urban talent in the independent film & TV sector


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Riots in Tottenham north London

"Fire in Babylon," wrote The Voice. Two police cars and a bus were set alight in Tottenham north London yesterday (Aug 6) after a protest, which followed the killing of a 29-year-old man who was gunned down by police earlier this week, turned nasty.

Members of the community in Tottenham, north London, gathered outside Tottenham police station calling for answers into the killing of Mark Duggan on Thursday night (Aug 4).

The father of five received two fatal bullet wounds in a pre-planned operation to arrest him.

The sting had been organised in partnership with Trident, the Met’s special unit for investigating gun crime within the black community.

“It was like fire in Babylon,” one protestor told The Voice. Read the full story here.

But the North London community of Tottenham is not only worried about fysical damage. The cost of the damage is likely to run into the millions, but the cost to the reputation of the area will be much greater.

For Haringey Council and others trying to bring investment into the area, the PR damage done to Tottenham is going to extensive and long lasting.

Local MP David Lammy this morning issued a statement saying: 'The scenes currently taking place in our community are not representative of the vast majority of people in Tottenham. Those who remember the destructive conflicts of the past will be determined not to go back to them.' Read the full story here.

Raw footage of the mood in the streets

Friday, August 5, 2011

Review: Africa’s Discovery of Europe by David Northrup

I just read a very interesting book on Africa’s discovery of Europe written by a professor of History at Boston College. The book gives an overview of the encounters between Europeans and Africans, from 1450 till 1850. It starts with the first contacts between Portuguese sailors and African coastal states in West-Africa and is as much as possible based on sources from Africans.

The author doesn’t look at Africa as a victim but rather as an active contributor and partner in the African-European relations. He studies how religion and culture interacted, how sexual relationships came to be, what the effects of new products and technologies were, how politics, economics, culture and religion interacted, etc. (I discovered e.g. that cassava and corn are not indigenous to Africa).

The reader discovers how Africans were an integral part of the globalizing of economical and cultural transactions. Through the life stories of black missionaries, kings, princes, emissaries, traders and slaves we get an insight into the life and times of the first encounters between Europe and Africa. A whole chapter tells us about the stories of Africans who lived in Europe during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries and how they lived their lives then. I was surprised to discover how racial mixing in the British Isles didn’t raise many eyebrows in those days, even less in Africa.

We discover that the first encounters were encounters of equal parties, each trying to gain as much as possible from the transaction. Racial stereotypes and racial discrimination were only to take their full and aggressive form in Europe and Africa in the second half of the 18th century, most of all due to the influence of the colonists from the Americas and the justification of colonization and slavery.

In the first centuries of the slave trade it was rather a coincidence that most slaves were black as Africa had a culture of slavery which post medieval Europe didn’t have. Europe bought the slaves Africa had to offer, for a major part to be able to colonize America. Still, in the first centuries of the slave trade, blacks could buy themselves free and becoming colonizers and slave traders. During those first centuries European presence in Africa was also focused on trade (among it slave trade of course) not on the colonization of the land and peoples of Africa.
To all who want to deepen their understanding and knowledge of history between Africa and Europe I recommend to read this book. The author bases his research on primary sources written by mostly Africans and refers to most important works on the topic.

Europe’s history with race is very different compared to that of America, although both sides influenced each other deeply and both regions are becoming more and more alike at the beginning of the 21st century. I’d like to end with a citation I found in this book, it is taken from Frederick Douglass correspondence when travelling in Europe in 1845. It illustrates wonderfully the difference in racial relations in those days: “It is quite an advantage to be a 'nigger' here. I am hardly black enough for the British taste, but by keeping my hair as wooly as possible - I make out to pass for at least half a negro at any rate" Frederick Douglass (1845)
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