Friday, September 30, 2011

Levi Roots - Reggae Sauce man from the UK

Having already carved out a successful career in music, Reggae star Levi Roots had a dream to combine his passion for music with his love of food. Armed with his grandmother's secret recipe sauce, and a catchy tune to promote it, Levi was grilled in front of the panel of venture capitalists of BBC Dragons Den and came away with the funding and contacts to turn his sauce business into a commercial hit. See a video interview with Levi Roots here.

But more importantly, watch him cook!

Black History Live at Wembley Stadium in London

Black History Live will launch the start of Black History Month 2011 at the iconic Wembley Stadium on the 1st and 2nd of October 2011. BHM is celebrated in the UK in October.

It will be a fun-packed day for all the family with...the kidszone, bookzone, cultural workshops & seminars, live acts, shows & entertainment plus a special appearance from Levi Roots...there’s just so much to see and do.

Bookzone Visit Centerprise Bookstores and meet their amazing speakers.

Kidzone Fantastic workshops for young people including the art of storytelling and arts and crafts with Tokunbo Ifaturoti, the force behind childrens TV programme ‘Time Out With AuntieToks!’.

Cultural Workshops and Seminars Running throughout the day including; 'Cracking the Kora' with Tunde Jegede, A talk by Former Black Panther Robert King who spent 29 years in solitary confinement in America for a crime he didn't commit. Film: 'Tales from the Front Room' A screening of the BBC4 documentary. Director Dr Michael McMillan, Editor of 'The Front Room: Migrant Asthetics in the Home' will be available for discussion afterwards. Bring items from your front rooms and share your stories.

Special appearance by Levi Roots Britain's favourite entrepreneur and Caribbean chef will be on hand to sign books and chat to all day

Plus LIVE on stage: Canton Jones US Grammy Award Nominee

London Community Gospel Choir

Faith Child African Music Award & Gospel Music Award (GMA) Recipient, and 2010 MOBO Award Nominee

Rachel Kerr Britain's New Singing Sensation

Admission: Adults £6, Children under 14 go FREE when accompanied by an adult

For info & tickets visit:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Browse Afro-Europe blog in Dynamic Views!

Blogger now offers you the ability to present our information in new ways. It's called Dynamic Views. So click on the picture of the right of the blog and get the full Afro-European perspective.

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Racial issues in the UK are disgusting," says US singer Kelis

Via Deeper than Twitter
US singer and Grammy nominee Kelis landed in the UK on September 12 and had a memorable, and quite racist immigration experience with her son. She took it to twitter.

“We just landed and I had the midget with me. We get in the passport control line and apparently pissed this one man off cause he thought I cut the line. Which wouldn’t be far fetched of me but this time I actually didn’t (not entirely anyway) well the point is from 0 to 60 this fat red faced sweaty “man” (I use the word man loosely here) started calling me a slave and told me to call him sir and how I was probably a disgusting nigerian. He called me kunta kinte and ranted and raved some more.

The man behind the passport desk laughed, shook his head in agreement I guess, and said “kunta kinte”. All the while the entire line full of people I just sat on a plane with for almost 3hours, over 50 people said nothing. I mean literally nothing. Didn’t flinch.

We all no I’m no saint, so I retaliated. Not the way I wanted to or how that pig deserved. But #1 my gorgeous baby boy was literally sitting on my hip and #2 I’m a believer. And we are better.

Sposed to be anyway, it made me think. This person was aprox a 50 year old english man. I didn’t say anything at the time of the riots in London for a lot of reasons. But I am in london all the time and today I’m gonna say that the racial issues in the uk are disgusting. Its racially decades behind progression because everything is swept under the rug. People don’t talk about it. People don’t fight about it. Not mentioning a problem doesn’t make it go away.

I bring it up now because as an american it is abundantly clear that my country has a smorgas board (spelling?) Of disgusting racial problems. We are the poster child for racial inequality even still with a black president. But its NO SECRET! And that I can fight against. I can try to prepare and teach my son. Because its out there. But you can’t fight for or against something no one is willing to talk about or even admit exist. Everyone wants to be politically correct. But who really cares? And what does that help. I could go on and on. I won’t. But maybe someone will start to talk about it from here.”

The Mayor of London has written an open letter to Border Agency staff after American singer Kelis alleged she was subjected to racial abuse while travelling through a London airport.

Boris Johnson said he was 'appalled' by the star's claims that she was called a 'slave' and 'kunta kinte' by a white member of the public, comments which she says made a passport control officer laugh.

Read more:

Update: Kelis has revealed that her recent racist attack did not happen in the UK, but in Spain. In a response she says : "I landed in Spain and that's when the fat pink faced British guy who was on the plane with me called me a slave and (told me) to call him sir. It was at passport control. I didn't think to make that clear at the time because I was shaken and furious. Now you know." Check out the full story here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Global impact of racial stereotypes in American films and TV programs

Ad of the image of black women
via AfroGermans
To cut it short. In the story "The global impact of racial stereotypes" the author write about audiences overseas who absorb white American images Her conclusion, "To judge by the shelves of skin whiteners, they watch these shows, and they will identify with the white lead characters. And if those characters don’t look like them, then they’ll do their best to look like those characters, lest they be excluded from America and the privileges of being white." A fast conclusion of a not so strong story.

But in the article the author refers to two two sociologists who write about social constructs. In a very interesting video the authors give an example how black civil right protesters challenged the social image of black people. And they explain why it is important to understand the concept of social construction.

On their website they also write the controversial German ad. The text reads: “The only reason to choose Black. Time for Green.” Okay, so we have a history of the hypersexualization and exploitation of black women by white people. We fetishize their butts as symbolic of their (supposed) hypersexuality. And then this ad comes along and asserts that the only thing worthwhile about Black people is their ass and, by extension, their sexual availability. “ Also see their their story on the "The naked black female body, a recurring theme"

So my first question was: can you change it. In the interesting video the two sociologists say, that social constructs are often contested. But is there is hope? It appears that blue wasn't always the colour for boys, it was pink in the fifties. But today blue is the standard colour for boys and pink the colour for girls. So the image of black people can change.

Monday, September 19, 2011

'Surprising Europe', An Interesting Series on Al-Jazeera

'Surprising Europe' is an intersting series of documentaries exploring the realities of life in Europe for African migrants. To anyone interested in the subject I invite you to check this out.
And one of the series below on African identity in Europe:

You can find all documentaries that already were on air via Youtube.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

“Dutch Queen must remove slavery painting of Golden Carriage”

Dutch Queen Beatrix must remove an offensive slavery painting on the side of the Golden Coach, wrote two Dutch MPs in an opinion piece yesterday. They have a “great aversion” to the drawing of half naked Black men and women who offer their goods to the royal family. It's the image called "Tribute of the Colonies”.

The coach was made in the late nineteenth century. "In the colonial era and the aftermath of slavery it seemed like a very common picture. Now it reminds us of a horrible period in Dutch history, " says Harry van Bommel of the Socialist party and Mariko Peters of left-wing green party GroenLinks.

The letter was also signed by the Chairman of the National Platform Slavery Barryl Biekman and the Chairman of the Committee Dutch honour debt (Indonesia) of Jeffrey M. Pondaag. They argue that The Netherlands should apologise for slavery and colonialism and the violence that arose there after.

The letter writers point out that Australia and the United States have already done so. This could possibly cause damage claims, but this way The Netherlands could come to terms with the past. The panel containing the illustration should be given a place in the National Museum, "where it belongs," write the signatories of the letter.

Dutch Prime Minister Rutte said in response that the image will not be removed. “We will not rewrite history by destroying the Golden Coach. It's bizar”

Every year on the third Tuesday in September, at the opening of parliament, the 113 year-old - grand horse-drawn carriage rides through the city of The Hague. The Coach is also used for royal weddings.

Video of news item

Pondaag, the Javanese man, says that the people of The Netherlands should realise that the wealth didn't come naturally, but that it cost many human lives.

In the video slavery images are shown. The voice over says; "But not these kind of images are on it, these images show how horrible slavery was."

Dutch historian Gert Oostindie says the coach was made 35 years after the abolition of slavery, “so we are not looking at slaves”.

“Case Depart” French Star Thomas Ngijol Says… “African Americans Have No Fight Anymore”

Via Shadow And Act
”When I see some black Americans I see the end of the world. Lil Wayne is a sign of the end of the world to me. Blacks here started as slaves, move to independence and success but now you’ve crossed the line. Obama killed rap. You don’t have a cause anymore. African Americans have no fight anymore. In the music videos, all you do is party. Everyone says they’re rich, in the club poppin’ bottles.”

That’s what writer and star Thomas Ngijol of the controversial French comedy Case Depart, a film we’ve covered extensively here on S&A, said to Chloe Hilliard for when asked what he thought of African Americans during an interview to promote the movie. The flick transports two modern day, half brothers back to the slave era. Fabrice Eboué , who co-stars as Ngijol’s brother, co-wrote the script as well.

Grossing more than $15 million already, it’s the number one comedy flick in France. Ngijol, who’s been a stand-up comedian and actor for the last ten years, makes it clear what the film is about saying it isn’t about slavery…”It’s about not very intelligent people with an identity problem. Black men who blame the system.”

Of course, it was only a matter of time that Ngijol made a request to clarify his above quote which I’m sure was due to all the backlash he received. He later stated…”First, I respect and love African-Americans. They inspire me in my work and I have nothing but love for people who fight for their rights.. I respect black culture but it’s just funny to see the evolution from slave to bling bling. Second, I love hip-hop and Lil Wayne but it’s just sad that the industry doesn’t have a lot of other alternatives in the spotlight. I came in peace so please spread that to your reader. Thanks.”

Read the full interview at

I think Thomas Ngijol conclusions are right if he only consumes the daily images of African Americans you see on TV in Europe. On the TV, Black America is Hip Hop, basketball and crime mixed with urban culture. But as a Black man he knows that Black people are often misrepresented, so the only thing I can hold against him is that he should have been more reserved in his opinion.

See post on Afro-Europe: French comedy about slavery - “Case Départ” (“Where it begins”)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Blackface Obama Billboard Sparks Outrage (From

Just read this article on and I just had to post it here. Again, humor in Europe has clearly other limits than in the US ...

Author:Moises Mendoza

German comedian Martin Sonneborn is well-known for jokes bordering on the tasteless. But a satirical political billboard of him posing in blackface makeup as US President Barack Obama is sparking outrage.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dominik Coco - Artist of the year - Trophée des Arts Afro-Caribéens

Dominik Coco, the Akoustic Ka musician from Guadeloupe, wins the French Afro Caribbean Arts Awards (Trophées des Arts Afro-Caribéens) in the category artist of the year. The ceremony was held monday 12 September in Paris France.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sarah Forbes Bonetta - The African Princess in Brighton

Author: Toyin Ashiru

Miss Sarah Forbes Bonetta, was a West African Egbado Omoba of royal blood, who was orphaned in a brutal massacre in her home country at the age of eight.

She was captured and later given to Queen Victoria by Captain Fredrick. E. Forbes of the Royal Navy who received Sarah as a gift from King Ghezo of Dahomey. Mr Forbes then gave her to Queen Victoria as a present "She would be a present from the King of the blacks to the Queen of the Whites, he later wrote in his journal.

The Queen was immediately impressed by the girl's natural regal manner, exceptional intelligence and gift for academic studies, literature, art and music that she gave her an allowance for her welfare with Sarah becoming a regular visitor to Windsor Castle. Sarah's genius became admired throughout the royal court and she continued to outshine her tutors with her advanced abilities in all studies spending her life between the royal household and Sierra Leone where she was educated.

Sarah was raised as Queen Victoria’s goddaughter in the British middle class and went to the Church Missionary Society to be educated, she also attended the Female Institution in Freetown, Sierra Leone. When she was 12 years old, Queen Victoria commanded that Sarah return to England, where she was placed under the charge of Mr and Mrs Schon at Chatham.

Sarah would later gain a long lasting cough that was caused by the climate transferring from Africa to Great Britain which would later prove to be fatal.

In August 1862 Sarah was sanctioned by Queen Victoria to marry James Pinson Labulo Davies at Nicholas Church in Brighton . Davies was a Yoruba businessman of considerable wealth for the period. The wedding party, was an extravgent affair and Sarah arrived from West Hill Lodge, Brighton in ten carriages and pairs of grays. There were sixteen bridesmaids and the wedding was made up of white ladies with African gentlemen, and African ladies with white gentlemen the couple later moved back to their native Africa after their wedding and Sarah was baptised at a church in the town of Badagry, a former slave port.

Shortly after her marriage, Sarah gave birth to a daughter and was granted permission by the Queen to name the child Victoria - the Queen also became her Godmother.

Sarah visited the Queen in 1867 with her daughter and then returned to Lagos where she had two more children.

James Davies later became very concerned about Sarah having a bad cough that would not go away, and she was later diagnosed with tuberculosis dying at the age of 37 in 1880 she was buried in Funchal Madiera.

Later, upon Sarah's death the Queen wrote in her diary: "Saw poor Victoria Davies, my black godchild, who learnt this morning of the death of her dear mother". So proud was Queen Victoria of Sarah's daughter, that when she passed her music examination, teachers and children had one day holiday.

Her daughter Victoria was given an annuity by the Queen and she continued to visit the royal household throughout her life.

In his journal Captain Forbes gave an account of his mission with relation to Miss Bonetta.

I have only to add a few particulars about my extraordinary present The African child” in a former portion of these journal I have mentioned the Okeadon war; one of the captives of this dreadful slave-hunt was this interesting girl.

It is usual to reserve the best born for the high behest of royalty and the immolation on the tombs of the diseased nobility . For one of these ends she had been detained at court for two years: proving, by her not having been sold to slave dealer, that she was of a good family.

So extraordinary a present would have been at least burden, had I not the conviction that, in consideration of the nature of the service I had performed, the government would consider her as the property of the crown.

To refuse, would have been to have signed her death warrant: which, probably, would have been carried into execution forthwith. Immediately on arriving…
Of her own history she was only a confused idea. Her parents were decapitated; her brother and sisters she knows not what their fate might have been .
For her age supposed to be eight years. She is a perfect genius; she now speaks English well, and have and great talent for music. She has won the affections, with but few exceptions, of all who have known her, she is far in advance of any white child of her age, in aptness of learning, and strength of mind and affection: and with her, been an excellent specimens of the Negro race.

Toyin Ashiru

How to rise above the culture of low expectations - Kemi Adegoke's TEDxEuston Talk

Kemi Adegoke describes the complex issues of what she describes as "The culture of low expectations" in inner city British schools. I said I wanted to be doctor, but they said: "Have you considered nursing?"

She says she went into politics because she was angry. Angry about education and angry about international development.

Adegoke was born in Wimbledon although lived in Nigeria until she was 16, she now lives in Herne Hill ward within the Dulwich and West Norwood constituency.

In her talk she takes us through her amazing forray into politics and how she suddenly became one of the leaders of policy formulation on Africa in the British Conservative Party.

Read the full story on

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Film "Le bonheur D'Elza" - Afro-Caribbean Arts Awards Nominee on 12 Sept 2011

Photo: Stana Roumillac and Vincent Byrd Le Sage
The French film Le bonheur D'Elza, directed by Mariette Monpierre, is nominated for the French "Trophées des Arts Afro-Caribéens (FAAC) 2011" ("Afro-Caribbean Arts Awards") in the category Cinema.

The awards ceremony will be held at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris France on September 12.

A single mother in Paris, Bernadette tried hard to give her daughters everything. She is thrilled when her eldest, Elza, the first college graduate in the family, completes her master's degree summa cum laude. But, Elza breaks her mother's heart by running away to their native Guadeloupe in search of a distant childhood memory: the father she barely remembers.

This feature debut by writer/director Mariette Monpierre offers an unusual insider's view of lush island culture as she captures the passion and contradictions of this family.

Website film at

Website Trophées des Arts Afro-Caribéens (FAAC) at

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Black in Norway

Of the 69 people killed in the July 22 rampage on Utoya island, at least nine of the victims were people of colour [EPA]
"Black in Norway. In the wake of the Norway massacre, we should focus our attention on the role racist ideologies have played there."

Black in Norway is an interesting essay of Dr Felice Blake about racism and multiculturalism in Norway.

In her essay she writes. Ingerid S. Straume, vice president of Attac Norge (an independent organisation that seeks to reveal the relationship between global capital and local experiences), argued in a July 29, 2011 column of the newspaper Class Struggle that Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik "did not attack Muslims; he attacked politics. He had a self-proclaimed intention to frighten away young people from participating in political life".

Breivik is the accused perpetrator of the July 22, 2011 massacre in Oslo, Norway that left eight people dead after a bombing outside government offices, and 69 dead after a shooting rampage at the Labour Party's summer youth camp on Utøya, an island in the Oslo fjord. At least nine of the shooting victims were people of colour. Straume might deny the connection to race and Islamophobia, but Breivik himself acknowledged the connection between Western politics and race.

In his 1,500-page "manifesto" he writes: "Don't let multiculturalists define what racism is or isn't. Keeping an African against his [sic] will in your basement as a slave is racism. Loving your extended family/your ethnic group and fighting for ethnic and/or indigenous rights does not make you a racist; quite the opposite in fact. It makes you a civil rights activist." Read the full story on

Friday, September 9, 2011

Afrikan History Week in Oslo Norway - 15-18 Sept 2011 (with Omar Sosa)

Afrikan History Week Norway 2011 is taking place 15 - 18 September at Riksscenen (Schous Plass) in Oslo.

The festival is a Pan-Afrikan celebration of Afrika, Afrikan history and the Afrikan Community in Norway. This year the festival celebrates its’ 7th consecutive year!

Afrikan History Week includes cultural events, concerts, films, seminars, workshops, debates and more. Special guest this year is Latin Jazz pianist and Grammy nominee Omar Sosa.


Thursday 15 September
Film and discussion. A roundtable discussion with four speakers presenting their perspectives on the uprising in the light of global events over the past year: From Karthoum via London to Oslo.

Friday 16 september
Indaba Seminar Theme: Perspectives on gender and multiculturalism (full day academic conference), with Lecturer: Prof. Obioma Nnaemeka, an international expert in gender and women's studies

Friday 16 september
Street Prophets
(Hip-Hop og poesi) (Hip-Hop and poetry). The "Street Prophets" event is a vibrant meeting with new poetic expression from the streets of Oslo. Five hip-hop artists are challenged to perform, rhymes, songs and rap lyrics accompanied by percussion, guitar and turntables. With Norway's most popular Hip Hop group Danny & Pumba.

Saturday 17 september
Africa Live with Omar Sosa. Latin Grammy and Grammy nominee Omar Sosa is known to cross boundaries in different genres and compose music with elements ranging from African traditional music, Latin rhythms and electronica with African-Cuban jazz in the bottom!

Sunday 18 september
Prince & Princess (kids party)

Place: Schous Kulturbryggeri bygg J/K, Trondheimsveien 2, Grünerløkka, Oslo Norway


Some vids of the artists in the Afrikan History week 2011

Danny & Pumba - Dagdrømmer - Norwegian Hip Hop

Omar Sosa - Light In The Sky

Norwegian slam poetry artist Sarah Ramin Osmundsen - Spoken Word Poetry: "Sound is Power", Emmanuel jal concert Oslo, Cosmopolite.


Omar Sosa - "Ternura" from album his "Mulatos". The album was recorded in Paris in 2004 and combines elements of Middle Eastern, North African, and Indian music.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

MOBO Awards 2011 nominations

The nominations have been announced for the 16th annual MOBO Awards, with the ceremony taking place in Glasgow, Scotland this year on October 5. With performances from Jessie J, Katy B and Alexis Jordan, alongside the host and performer Jason Derulo

List of nominees

BEST UK ACT in association with Capital FM
Chase & Status
Jessie J
Katy B
Wretch 32
The Streets
Tinie Tempah

BEST NEWCOMER association with Lebara Mobile – voted for by Facebook
Alex Clare
Ed Sheeran
Emeli Sande
Jamie Woon
Jessie J
Loick Essien
Maverick Sabre
Rizzle Kicks
Wretch 32

Rizzle Kicks
Tinie Tempah
Wretch 32

Chipmunk ft. Chris Brown – Champion
Jessie J – Do It Like A Dude
Rizzle Kicks – Down With The Trumpets
Tinchy Stryder ft. Dappy – Spaceship
Wiley – Numbers In Action

Alexis Jordan
Aloe Blacc
Bruno Mars
Cee Lo Green
Jason Derulo
Nicki Minaj
Snoop Dogg
Wiz Khalifa

BEST SONG in association with PRS for Music
Adele – Someone Like You
Chase & Status ft. Tinie Tempah – Hitz
Jessie J – Do It Like A Dude
Tinie Tempah – Wonderman
Wretch 32 – Traktor

Adele – 21
Chase & Status – No More Idols
Jessie J – Who You Are
Katy B – On A Mission
Tinie Tempah – Disc-Overy

Damian Marley & Nas
Jah Cure

Denys Baptiste
Gwilym Simcock
Karios 4tet
Matthew Halsall

Cheikh Lo
Fatoumata Diawara
Owiny Sigoma Band
Seun Kuti
Spoek Mathambo
Viewux Farka Toure

Bobby Bovell
Four Kornerz
Junior Garr
Triple O

Dionne Bromfield
Marsha Ambrosius
Mike Hough

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Slavery - The game" is a PR stunt: official statement Dutch public broadcaster NTR

Hilversum, September 7, 2011 – It turns out that the highly controversial game trailer ‘Slavery – The Game’, that was launched September 1st, is in fact a viral.

The trailer shows how gamers may trade slaves, conquer countries and even choose their means of torture and their personal burning marks. It was revealed today that the notorious trailer is fictional. The purpose of the trailer is firstly to confront people with an important, but often-neglected part of history. Secondly, the trailer aims to increase awareness about the existence of present-day slavery.

From Sunday September 18 onwards, Dutch public broadcaster NTR brings a TV series called ‘De Slavernij’ (‘Slavery’ in Dutch). This explicit TV series shows both the obscure past as well as the present situation considering slavery.

Indignation and Discussion
The fictional trailer is a creation of Javelin Reds, which is an anagram for ‘De Slavernij’, Dutch for ‘slavery’. The trailer shows how players could ‘get to work’. It shows scenes from the illusory game, in which players could choose weapons to torture their slaves, burning marks to brand them, and how they could trade their slaves internationally. "It was by no means our intention to hurt people with the trailer. We chose this approach to create maximum awareness for slavery in general. Not just for the history of slavery, but also for slavery that still exists today", states Carla Boos, editor in chief of public broadcaster NTR.

Many people from around the world reacted with vigorous indignation to the game trailer and the short film spurred spirited discussions on online platforms. Right from the moment of its seeding on September 1st, the trailer spread like wild fire across the Internet; social media, blogs, websites…it was even mentioned on international radio and television. The video has been watched for over 400.000 times on YouTube and hundreds of websites and blogs wrote about the disputable topic. “It is a good thing to see a trailer like this leads to this amount of controversy. It really shows how people are still truly concerned about slavery”, states Carla Boos.

Street interviews show that the Dutch are not fully aware of their national history considering slavery. Also, they lack of knowledge about the current worldwide status quo on the topic. Therefore the aim of the viral was to call attention to the European share in the worldwide history of slavery. Secondly, to emphasize that slavery still exists today. Around the world, about 27 million people are exploited as slaves. Even in countries like The Netherlands modern slavery still subsists.

The television series: ‘De Slavernij’

NTR’s ‘De Slavernij’ is a historical TV series that shows perhaps the most obscure and concealed part of history: the European and Dutch involvement in trans-Atlantic slavery. In five episodes, Dutch presenters Daphne Bunskoek and Roué Verveer guide the viewer through dark past (and present) times. Bunskoek draws the greater international picture on slavery, while Verveer (of Surinam origin himself) tells a very personal tale. He even goes after his own roots in connection to slavery. The TV series depict slavery from the standpoint of ordinary people. It builds on personal records, diaries, past documents and conversations with survivors. ‘De Slavernij’ is aired every Sunday from September 18th onwards, on Nederland 2 (Dutch national TV) at 20.10h, local time.

Alongside these series, a ‘children’s version’ of the historical series will be aired: ‘De Slavernij Junior’ is presented by Lisa Wade. The children’s series show the past and present of slavery, child labour in present-day slavery as it still exists in for example Benin or Bangladesh. ‘De Slavernij Junior’ airs every Sunday from September 18th, on Dutch childrenchannel Z@PP, 18.15h local time. On children can partake in an educational game in which they can learn about contemporary slavery.

NTR is a public broadcaster that focuses on information, culture and education.

See press release:

Typical Dutch, the more offense the better.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On 'Alleen Maar Nette Mensen' from Robert Vuijsje

Following the post on this book and the post on the making of a film based on it I wanted to give my view of things. I do not want everybody to agree with what I write here, but I thought it to be important to share my opinion on this book. The book has already been translated in Turkish and considering its huge success in the Dutch speaking world I am convinced it will soon be translated in English too. I actually advise you to read it so that you can form your own opinion.

In 2009 Robert Vuijsje won the prestigious Golden Owl (Gouden Uil) literary price for his book Alleen Maar Nette Mensen. I read the book before that and although the book shocked me several times, I actually thought of it as a good book. Still, I realized that the reasons why the jury chose him were very different to my reasons to like the reading. When I heard the comment of the jury on the news I was much more shocked than by the book itself. The jury’s president (Guy Mortier, famous and well respected Belgian journalist) felt the need to be ‘creative’ when describing Vuijsje’s novel as the winner. But he just demonstrated how unconsciously racist even a Belgian self proclaimed anti-racist intellectual can be. Moreover the jury only saw one aspect of the book. That same aspect that scandalized so many black people, amused the jury. Guy Mortier said the novel was:

“(…) a burning fresco that swings like an African tit, with a rhythm tighter than a black ass in too tiny leopard leggings (…) The main character’s search for love, sex and intellectual negro women makes a gruesome authentic impression” Read in Dutch here

For me Guy Mortier didn’t understand this book. He misread it, just understood what he wanted to understand and even worse, it confirmed his unconscious stereotypes on black people. The worst is that with white people, when you try to explain this they just ask you to stop whining.

However, I believe in the freedom of art, even when it’s art I don’t like. When Erykah Badu got critique for her Window Seat video she replied with following words:

"You can criticize it, you can disagree with it, you can make your own video, but you cannot censor art in any kind of way" Source

You might think I am a radical, but I agree 100% with this statement. Erykah Badu may change her opinion once she reads Robert Vuijsje’s novel, but I hope she won’t. I don’t believe in censorship, it scares me. I believe you can make people aware though and change things by other means. This blog is a way to show how certain things are sensitive for us, while the majority things it’s hilarious. This freedom of speech is important.

Vuijsje wrote fiction, literature, ... he didn't write a social analysis of Dutch society. Although he was inspired by it and that critics give it more sociological importance than it deserves. Furthermore Robert Vuijsje didn't spare anyone. David (the main character) is disgusted by anyone except blacks but for the wrong reasons. He is very confused, just like Dutch society is. I see it as an allegory, not as a description of how things are.

However, this book is not only a caricature of blacks. I would say it entails a raw critique of Dutch society as a whole. Vuijsje is hard on Jews, Muslims, white Dutch people, Latino's, blacks, ... you name it and they are stereotyped in this book. I sense that Vuijsje got the hardest on blacks (but that’s certainly because I am black, while Vuijsje himself is convinced he was the hardest with the Jewish elite), and in particular on black women. Well, I guess that’s because they are the easiest and most vulnerable target. This doesn’t excuse the author, on the contrary it shows how lazy and safe he plays his game. Doing the same with Muslims could have brought him a fatwa. He is a Jew himself, he can be hard on Jews. And the Dutch/Whites, well, whatever, they have the power, so criticizing them is harmless. The book is well written though and I invite everyone to read it, not as an assault against black people, but as a critical description of multicultural Holland (where for decades everybody thought being in the most tolerant country in the world, nobody dared to say what they thought about other communities and today racism bursts out like a neglected infection full of puss – well it’s not just a Dutch thing though, I see the same happening in Belgium, France, Germany and the UK).

To me although he stereotyped black people awfully, when I finished the book I thought I got his point. And his point is that there is a huge problem and that communities are more and more alienated from each other and that our perspective of the other and ourselves is self destructive. Well, at least that was what this book taught me whatever the author’s reasons.

Additionally I want to say that the way Vuijsje describes 'black males' is also really nothing to be proud of. It is sad. But sad because in a way I recognized a lot of it. Not how most black guys are, but how the media is projecting an identity that blacks are internalizing. That identity discourse is totally self destructive for blacks because it gives us a scary reference point of authenticity , i.e. what it means to be ‘a real black’ guy, and not a ‘bounty’ or ‘oreo’. I guess you all know what I mean. Vuijsje succeeds to play with these images and tell a crazy story.
While this book was 'funny', it was terribly sad at the same time. While I laughed, I was at the same time ashamed to be amused about this cruel description of Western urban life. David, the main character, is a tragic figure.

Therefore I was not amused with the jury's comment when he won the Golden Owl more than 2 years ago. In my opinion they didn't understand. They thought it was a well told story about real stuff. I think it is a well told sarcastic story in which the black image is abused, like always, but in which the whole society as a whole is being put under critical light.

However, every reader makes her/his own interpretation, and that's our right. That’s what being free means. It’s up to us now, to write a book as hilarious and as painful. But where blacks don’t have to be at the center of the polemic or the easiest punch ball for all ills in society (and then I think about French humorist Dieudonné, who tried to laugh with Jews and Israeli’s and got lynched by the French media. Once a star he is virtually dead now. That won’t happen to Vuijsje, he got awards). Moreover, if I, a black man, would write a book in which I am as harsh with white people in stereotyping them, I’m sure I wouldn’t even be able to find a publisher …

Wiggaz and Dirty Dreads. On How Race Still Matters

For centuries black people tried to look as white as possible, they often still do. Many use skin clearing creams, relax their hair so to have straight hair, favorite mixed-race looking people in the media, etc. Since the 90’s we can see another phenomenon, white people who want to be black, or at least who adopt symbols and styles that are perceived as black in the Western world.

Some white people adopted e.g. what they think is hip hop culture and with it adopted styles considered African-American. Certain haircuts, clothing and accessories such as jewelry are all part of a style that many consider first as black. Some other white people try to have dreadlocks even if their soft, thin and straight hair makes it hardly impossible to have knots in their hair (other whites with curly hair can have neat dreads though). Some white people love reggae music and styles and are therefore also wearing the symbols of the Rastafarian movement and sport the Pan-African colours.

The sight of such a white man adopting black style looks to many as ridiculous, just as ridiculous as a black man sporting a goth style. My opinion on this was at first that it actually is a positive sign. It means that black and white cultural manifestations are mixing and that you don’t have to act or look this or that way because of your race. Be goth, be rasta, no matter the colour of your skin. However, there is much more … which still makes this phenomenon rather problematic. Let me explain this below.

When black people adopt white styles, it’s because they want to fit in. They don’t want to offend the majority, they don’t want to be perceived as different, they want to be normal and thus want to be conform to the norm. A girl with relaxed hair is actually something positive from a conformist perspective (and I don’t say ‘a white perspective’, because in many African societies black styles are not considered ‘good’ either. African societies often internalized white perspectives on blackness).

On the contrary, when white people adopt black styles they do this to be non-conformists. Their motivation is to be different, to be anti-establishment, to be special, to even be perceived as some kind of outlaws. Some have dreadlocks but have dirty hair. In their rasta style they are actually emphasizing stereotypes, prejudices and myths and are interpreting rasta as a bump style. Others might have big golden chains and diamond earrings but they interpret hip hop culture also in a stereotype way, ignoring the political and social conscious elements of hip hop and openly focus on the bling bling elements. They try to actually overcompensate their whiteness by stressing on a black myth, which makes them look ridiculous.

In this sense being black still means that you are by definition not normal, that you might be some kind of outlaw. Because of your physical appearance you are automatically set outside conformity and you should do some effort to fit in. Speaking the language and adapting to the local culture is not enough, you have to change the black body. Black styles and cultures will not help you to be considered normal you should adopt white styles, i.e. relax you hair, clear your skin and do not wear too flashy clothes. You even have to overcompensate your race by being cleaner and smarter than your white counterparts. The blacker you are, the more you should work on that.

On the other hand, whites who want to be outside society just have to mimic black stereotypes, to mimic a black myth that isn’t even real but fits the prejudices. These white people are not even being like blacks, but they are making a buffoon version of blacks, exaggerate the difference by being dirty or overtly superficial and materialistic. Although most of white people who do imitate that style think of themselves as anti-racists, they are (mostly unconsciously) accentuating racism and keeping race as a social marker alive.

Julie Dexter at Jazz Cafe London - Sun Oct 2nd 2011

On Oct 2nd Julie Dexter returns to Jazz Cafe in London with her first album in 6 years. The former Soul II Soul frontlady has become a main artist on the USA Nu Soul scene since relocating to Atlanta some years ago.

She will be performing her critically acclaimed new album “New Again” for the first time in Europe.

Also on the night our taste maker new acts to watch, the freshest the UKSoul scene has to offer live. At the end of the night the stage is opened up to the public for an Open Mic Jam – previous guests include Amy Winehouse, Marsha Ambrosius, Jeffrey Daniel of Shalamar

Julie Dexter is a world renowned, award winning, British vocalist, who is born and raised in Birmingham, England

Snippets from the new album "New Again"

For more details about the event check out KEEP THE FAITH Events – SOUL Events in London:

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Slavery The Game" - Is it really a game?

Via Madnews
Slave - The Game promises to be a new upcoming "game" in 2012, according to the website and the video trailer. And it seems to be internet hit already judging by the comments and the views.

Goal of the game is to become the most powerful slave trader. The teaser states, "Go back to 17the century when Europe ruled the world. Make a tremendous fortune. Buy slaves. Discipline them. Exploit them."

But some doubt if slavery is really a game. The game website joystiq wrote. "We do wonder, if Slavery the Game isn't a game (and it's not; notice the lack of italics here), does it have a larger goal, or is this it; a mysterious website with a gruesome reminder that society can be a more powerful force than individual morality? We thought we already had one of those."

Needless to say, it’s sick.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Meet the Adebanjo’s - The story of a UK sitcom

Meet the Adebanjo’s is a brand new independent UK sitcom released this summer about a Black British family living in Peckham.

Our story

The story of Meet the Adebanjo’s began over 30 years ago when two men met on the plane from Nigeria to the UK. They just happened to sit next each other but over the 7 hour plane journey they developed a friendship that would last till today. They both only planned to stay in the country for a few years to study but one thing lead to another – they got married, children were born and they both ended up settling in Peckham, London.

Debra Odutuyo – the creator of Meet the Adebanjo’s was the daughter of one of the friends. She had grown up in a loving family full of fun and laughs and as a producer wondered why this was not represented on UK TV. She wanted to do a sitcom which promoted family values, allowed people to laugh and which gave people an insight into her British African culture. She then spent a few years developing the concept and pitching it to major TV Networks.

Not deterred by their constant refusal, in 2009 she sold her car, moved out of her flat to raise the money to produce the series herself. It was just enough for one pilot but her determination and vision impressed a long childhood friend – the son of her Dad’s longtime friend who decided to set up a Production Company – MTA Productions LTD, to make her vision a reality. Within a few months they were able to raise the investment needed to produce a full season independently and the rest they say is the Meet the Adebanjo's you are watching today.

Debra's plan is to create a whole new industry in the UK where more quality programs such as Meet the Adebanjo's that reflect a culture not shown on UK TV can be made and shown around the world.

Meet The Adebanjos - WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE!!!

See website:

To fund this new industry 8 episodes of Meet the Adebanjo’s have been released as a Special Edition DVD Boxset for £19.99 in UK and Europe.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

MOMENTS at MADE Berlin with Erykah Badu and Jaybo & Miki´s String Quintet

Creative moments is the driving force behind MADE. Singer Erykah Badu, composer Miki and Painter Jaybo set out on a journey of creative reinvention. Each artist was inspired by the other to step out of their respective artistic comfort zones.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Stories of young black and white media makers at the European Culture Congress in Poland

The Doc Next Network, an organisation who captures the views of young European media-makers, will have screenings of selected films from their media collection at the European Culture Congress in Poland on 8 + 11 September.

Doc Next Network is collecting videos, stories, photos and other media art productions of all sorts of young people. With the focus on young, emerging documentary-makers and opinion-formers, the Network is building up a broad collection of (alternative) documentaries.

The collection includes short, experimental productions, including videos, blogs, audio reportage and short films, represented on Vimeo and on the respective channels (on-line) of the members of the network. It provides a unique reflection on what living in Europe really means.

There are many interesting videos, so I picked a few.

This film was made by Tony Longe (17 years old, United Kingdom) in 2009 during a workshop by ACAVA for StrangerFestival. This video was selected for the long list of the Youth & Media Programme in 2010.

Silence is a crime, a film was made by Marie-Jo Cima from France.

"There Are Two of Them" is a video of French Hadjara Karamoko-Mercy about her mother and her new mother.

Also intersting is the Portugese video Saudade. It was made by Wilson Teixeira 'ICHA' from Portugal for the ‘Chez Nous’ programme. The title means 'Transition'. The video is about a black neighbourhood in Portugal.

Website Doc Next Network:
Website: European Culture Congress

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Black women stereotyped in Dutch film “Only decent people”

On the photo Geza Weisz and Imanuelle Grives
The feature film “Alleen maar nette Mensen” (“Only decent people”), based on the Dutch controversial novel of Robert Vuijsje, will be in cinema in March 2012. The book sparked a lot of controversy in The Netherlands and was called racist. The film and the book is about a middle class Jewish man, who is searching for an intelligent voluptuous real “negro” woman.

The story is about 21-year-old David Samuels who is Jewish, but has the appearance of an Arabic looking Moroccan. He is a typical rich kid who was educated at the Barleaus Gymnasium, an the elite grammar school in Amsterdam. His mother is a lawyer and his father is a well known television presenter.

He has a girlfriend named Naomi and they both live in the posh district Amsterdam South, where 'only decent people' live. The word 'decent people', which is also the title of the novel, refers to people who are not 'allochtonen' and especially not Moroccans. ‘Allochtonen’ is the Dutch word for non-western foreigners.

But, as IDTV wrote in the synopsis, " David discovers he has a craving for black beauties with huge boobs and bum from the suburbs. He dumps his girlfriend and sets out on a quest for his dream, drops out of college and woman. An apolitical and irreligious film about the clash between social and cultural classes, based on the novel by Robert Vuijsje."

In a column Anousha Nzume wrote about some of the offensive passages in the novel. "Main character David believes there are two types of 'negro' women. The Sherida chain; black as coal, wears at least size 46. Cup size 95 F. Not taller then 1.65. At least one of her tiny garments has leopard print. She does it with every man. Breezer desirable but not essential. Available in the “negro women disco".

Then there is the “bounty” (black from the outside, white from the inside), highly educated with dreadlocks. Only does it with white men, in the absence of negroes of a certain level. She is boring, unsociable and mainly dressed in batik. You can find her at a slavery debate."

To add some Dutch context. The name Sherida refers to a popular Surinamese name, but it refers to a name of ‘working class’ black Surinamese women. The sentence “Breezer desirable but not essential”, refers to the light alcoholic drink Breezer and to the Dutch word “Breezer slut”, meaning a girl who sleeps with a man for a Breezer. The ‘black’ setting of the book and the film is the Bijlmer, which is considered a poor black neighbourhood in the district Amsterdam South-East.

The book also sparked controversy within the Black community in The Netherlands. Some people felt that the book cheapened black women and interracial relationships, but others felt that a lot of black women fit the profile and should therefore not complain about the stereotypes in the book.

In the film the Jewish character David is played by Geza Weisz and the black female character is played by Imanuelle Grive (who is of Surinamese descent). Shooting of the film will be from 4 September till half October and the film is planned to be in Cinema on the 1ste of March next year, distributor Wild Bunch reported Thursday

A video of a debate (in Dutch) about the book in 2009 with author Robert Vuijsje.

Trivia, the author had a black girlfriend when the book was published. See a Dutch colomn about the author "Why I am not a racist" here

Because most people don't understand Dutch, a short translation.

The first woman in the video is documentary maker Mildred Roethof, she feels the book is oke, she says that the book is telling the untold story of underclass black women. She loves the book

The woman in red says that the book is painting a one-sided picture. She is Elvira Sweet, the former chairman of the city district of Amsterdam South East.

The white woman refers to a research which shows that the stories and images of men are overrepresented in the media. Which means that women are far less represented in the media. And that it applies to black women even more.

The author Vuisje replies that 1 out 50 people in the Netherlands if of Surinamese origin and that Surinamese people are overrepresented in the public debate.

The big man is radio host Guilly Koster. He says that he had interviewed him before and he says "your naive as hell man. You sit behind that table talking about black people as if I am not there. That hurts man.”

The woman with the Rasta is youth activist Hady Jane Guds, she says that he should bring with him the intellectual black woman he is looking for every time he talks about the subject in a program. So black women can give their own opinion.

Vuistjes replies that they are putting themselves in an inferior position.

The woman with the white sweater, says that she was almost family with the author because a cousin of her dated him. She says she had only white heroes because there weren't any black heroes around. She dated white boys, went to a white school and went to ballet. But at her media jobs people still treated her as a cliché black woman. She says he can write about black women what he wants, because black women also talk that way about each other. She wants a black role model that she can look up to. When that's accomplished then there is room for these kind of books.

The woman in black is theatre maker Anousha Nzume, she says she is tired of the black stereotypes. She ask what effect this book will have on people who don't understand what he wrote in his book

Also see the post on Afro-Europe - Dutch novel reinforces sexual stereotypes of black women
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