Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kiratiana Freelon, author of the book "Kiratiana's Travel Guide to Black Paris: Get Lost and Get Found" wants your help to publish her new book "Kiratiana's Travel Guide to Multicultural London".

"This past January and February I explored London for five weeks with one goal – to discover its multiculturalism and write a Travel Guide to Multicultural London. 2012 is a fitting year to highlight the city’s multiculturalism. The Olympic and Paralympic Games will bring the world to London. But how many visitors know that the world is already in London? And what resources are there to help visitors explore this side of London?"

Get more information about her Campaign here
Category: articles
Photo: Lucid
Brixton Town centre: Atlantic Road, Coldharbour Lane, Effra Road, Electric Avenue, Electric Lane, Rushcroft Road, Saltoun Road, St Matthew’s Peace Gardens, Windrush Square

As London becomes the destination for the summer of 2012 Brixton Splash returns bigger and better than ever.

On the day that we expect to see Usain Bolt take on the world in the Olympic 100m final alongside the artists, music, sound systems and fabulous food we always bring to Splash we will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Jamaican Independence during the festival.

There will be a number of activities throughout the day reflecting Jamaican cultural contributions to London life, which include highlighting the historic civic, business, sporting and cultural contributions of Windrush Jamaicans who have come to Lambeth over the last 50 years.

Brixton Splash will again feature 4 sound systems on Atlantic Road and Coldharbour Lane with a main stage on Windrush Square. The main stage will continue to support local talent and will include the musical history of Jamaica in Britain ranging from Soul, Pop, Ska and Reggae through to dancehall and roots music.

The stage will also provide a platform for narration and sketches from a local young peoples dramatic dance society as well as incorporating poetry and dance performers who will represent a musical journey through the high points of Jamaican history and British popular music genres.

The Peace Gardens will be further developed with an emphasis on the Arts and families.

Brixton Splash will also set up a live broadcast via YouTube to celebrate the event with a series of interviews with the public and celebrities to find out what Jamaican Independence means to them.


Video: The black UK newspaper THE VOICE were taken on a guided tour of Brixton by veteran race campaigner Lee Jasper.
Category: articles

H/T Shadow and Act. The French time travel/slavery comedy titled Case Départ (Back To Square One) has been released on YouTube. The entire film.

"The French time travel/slavery comedy titled Case Départ, which translates as Back To Square One, opened in France last summer, and was quite a hit in that country, causing a bit of a stir outside of France, particularly here in the USA, where many didn't quite take to the idea of slavery as comedy," wrote Shadow and Act

I must admit, I was quit neutral about the film, but after watching parts of the film I began to remember the historical context of it. I read the book of Stedman, “The Narrative of a Five Years Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam (1796)” and while watching the video everything came to life.

Although the idea of travelling back to the days of slavery is original, I do have my reservations. Slavery has dramatically changed the way black are perceived and how we perceive ourselves, I think that needs reflection, it's shouldn't be the scene of a comedy.

Category: articles released a new music video off his upcoming solo album #willpower. It features Dutch Singer Eva Simons. The video was released a few days ago, so it's brand new.
Category: articles

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Because of new album releases and new artists, a small compilation of Black European Soul, R&B and Acid Jazz music. First, the British Acid Jazz band Incognito. They released a new studio album "SURREAL in March, one of the tracks is entitled “Goodbye To Yesterday”, see video above.

GERMANY: Y'Akoto - "Tamba"
The 24 year-old newcomer Y'Akoto (half German, half Ghanian) from Hamburg is rapidly making a name for herself in Europe. Check out her live performance in France.

FRANCE: Corneille - Des Pères, des Hommes et des Frères (feat. La Fouine)
This song is released in 2011

UK: Estelle - "Thank You"
All of Me is the second studio album by English R&B recording artist and producer Estelle.

THE NETHERLANDS: Alain Clark - "Let Some Air In"
Alain Clark released his latest album Love Revival a few days ago.

BELGIUM: Iyadede - “F4L
Rwanda born, Belgium raised, Brooklyn residing new-comer, Iyadede (Sabrina Iyadede), makes electronica, pop, soul and afro beat. A few weeks ago she released her video “F4L.

FRANCE: Laura Mayne - "Inside My Love"
Laura Mayne suprised the French audience with her comeback in January. Laura Mayne was part of the Soul/Acid Jazz duo Native in the early 90's.

THE NETHERLANDS: Ntjam Rosie – "Live at Grounds"
And last, but not least, on april 20th the brand new live CD+DVD ‘Ntjam Rosie – Live at Grounds’ was released. The show features live performances of the acclaimed album Elle.
Category: articles
The French art magazine Art Absolument released a bilingual edition (In French and English) entitled "Art Caribéen, l’heure de la reconnaissance" ("Caribbean Art: Time for Recognition"). The edition, which was published in 2011, looks ahead to the forthcoming Caribbean art exhibition in New York.

This edition is not only about art, but also about the personal journeys of some of the featured artists. You can read the entire magazine online at
Category: articles

Saturday, May 26, 2012

As the daughter of a Ghanaian father and a German mother, Jennifer Yaa Akoto (23) was raised a cosmopolite from her infancy. She was born in Hamburg and grew up in Ghana with sojourns in Cameroun,Togo and Chad before finally ending up shuttling between Hamburg, Lomé and Paris, a wanderer between worlds, a modern-day nomad who has always drawn strength from a state of permanent transition, which she has always seen as the inexhaustible source of her inspiration.
Category: articles

Friday, May 25, 2012

May Ayim 1990 (Blues in schwarz weiß). Orlanda Verlag
Afro-German May Ayim (educator, poet and activist) wrote the book Blues in schwarz-weiss (Blues in Black and White), A Collection of Essays, Poetry and Conversations. You can download (PDF) an excerpt of her book for free at Blackatlantic.

If you need a quick introduction, see the video Hope in My Heart: The May Ayim Story

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 reunited the white Germans, but at the same time excluded ethic minorities. “In the days immediately following November 9,1989 [German reunification], I noticed that hardly any immigrants or black Germans were to be seen around town, at least only rarely any dark-skinned ones, ” writes Afro-German Poet May Ayim in her essay "1990: Home / land and Unity from an Afro-German Perspective". In her story she intimately writes about her fears of the increased racism and how her beloved city Berlin made her feel a “foreigner” overnight.

May Ayim

Home / land and Unity from an Afro-German Perspective


Within a few moments reunification led to the birth of a new Federal Republic in – as far as the GDR [East Germany] was concerned – a not particularly new guise. The GDR was left to the side. As the Wall fell, many rejoiced; others felt their heads spinning.

German Fa(r)ther-land…
My fatherland is Ghana, my mother tongue is German; homeland, I carry in my shoes. When the Wall fell, I felt, for a while, the fear of being struck down. It wasn’t much, not a great fear, but more than usual.

Since 1984 I have been living and working in West Berlin and feel more at home in this city than anywhere else. Due to my underdeveloped sense of direction I get lost everyday in the streets, but compared with other cities where I lived and studied before, Berlin has always been a place where I felt pretty much at home. My skin color is not an unusual attention-grabber on the streets; here I’m not praised everyday for my good German, and, at seminars, programs, or parties, only seldom do I find myself the only black among an indeterminate number of whites. I still have to explain myself a lot, but not constantly. I remember former times, in small West German cities, where I often had the feeling of being under constant observation, of getting sick of constantly searching and questioning gazes. I remember days when I would feel especially lonely or unbearably exposed and would be on the lookout for black people while shopping or riding the bus. In Berlin, this anonymous city with its international face, those recollections faded very quickly from my memory. With the fall of the Wall and the period following it they returned, as though out of a dusty drawer, into my daily life.

In the days immediately following November 9,1989, I noticed that hardly any immigrants or black Germans were to be seen around town, at least only rarely any dark-skinned ones. I wondered why not many Jews were about. I ran into a couple of Afro-Germans whom I had met in East Berlin the previous year, and we were glad to have more chances of getting together now. Moving around alone I wanted to breathe in a bit of the general enthusiasm, to sense the historical moment and share my reserved joy. Reserved because I had heard about the imminent policy-tightening regarding immigrants and asylum-seekers. And further, like other black Germans and immigrants, I knew that even a German passport did not guarantee an invitation to the East-West festivities. We sensed that along with the imminent intra-German union a growing closing off from outside would ensue – an outside that would include us. Our participation in the celebration was not invited.

The new “We” in “this our country” – Chancellor Kohl’s favorite expression – did not and does not have a place for everyone.
“Out, nigger, don’t you have a home to go to?”

For the first time since I had been living in Berlin I now had to protect myself almost daily against undisguised insults, hostile looks and / or openly racist offenses. As in earlier times I started again, when shopping and on public transportation, to look out for dark faces. A friend of mine, holding her
Afro-German daughter on her lap in the S-Bahn,* was told “We don’t need your kind anymore. There are already more than enough of us!” A ten-year-old African boy was thrown out of a crowded UBahn train (S-Bahn: elevated train) to make room for a white German.

Those were incidents in West Berlin in November, 1989, and since 1990 reports of racially motivated attacks primarily on black people have increased, mostly in the eastern part of Germany. Reports like those were at first known only in circles of immigrants and black Germans, the official media reporters hardly taking notice of the violent assaults. I began the year 1990 with a poem:

“borderless and brazen: a poem against the German “u-not y.”
i will be African
even if you want me to be german
and i will be german
even if my blackness does not suit you
i will go
yet another step further
to the farthest edge
where my sisters – where my brothers stand
o u r
i will go
yet another step further and another step and
will return
when i want
and remain
borderless and brazen

for Jaqueline and Katharina
(Translation by May Ayim)

As an outgrowth of the “Black History Month” series of programs on topics of black history, culture, and politics, initiated by a black activist group in Berlin, February, 1990, a task force was formed of black groups and individuals of racist attacks in Berlin and the surrounding area.


Read the full story, which begins on page 14, in the PDF document. 1990: Home / land and Unity from an Afro-German Perspective.

Published in German in the book «Der Black Atlantic» (3-9808851-5-1) | 2004 published by the House of World Cultures in Berlin
Category: articles

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Katharina Oguntoye, Audre Lorde and May Ayim
Building on the success of the inaugural 2011 conference, the second annual convention of the Black German Cultural Society of New Jersey (BGCSNJ) will be held at Barnard College in New York City on August 10-11, 2012. This year’s convention will focus on the theme of “What Is the Black German Experience?” The conference will feature a keynote address by Yara Colette Lemke Muniz de Faria, screenings of the films “Hope in My Heart: The May Ayim Story” and “Audre Lorde – The Berlin Years 1984-1992,” and readings by Black German poet-performers Olumide Popoola and Philipp Kabo Köpsell.

In response to recent interest, the BGCSNJ Review Committee has expanded the scope of the conference and invites proposals for papers that engage the diverse histories, experiences and cultural productions of Blacks of German heritage and blackness in Germany and Europe more broadly. We welcome submissions for twenty-minute presentations on three academic panels. Additionally, two panels will be devoted to life writing, oral history and memoir. These two panels will provide a forum for the work of collecting individual accounts and reflections, as well as raising awareness on the overlooked life histories of blacks of Germany heritage and blackness in a wider European context.

For more information check

Hope in My Heart: The May Ayim Story

Audre Lorde – The Berlin Years 1984-1992

Olumide Popoola

Philipp Kabo Köpsell
Category: articles

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Family Trayvon Martin and UK activist Zita Holbourne, photo Barac
The family of murdered US black teenager Trayvon Martin visited London a week ago to launch a campaign against racism and racial profiling on both sides of the Atlantic. Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton spoke, Friday 11th of May at a public meeting which was organised by Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK in conjunction with Million Hoodies Movement in the USA.

Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton took to a stage at the University of London with Doreen Lawrence, the mother of a black British teenager, Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a racist attack in London, in 1993. According to World News, with tears in her eyes, Fulton told an audience of journalists, activists, students and others, “I should not be looked at differently because of the color of my skin.”

Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton said they were "humbled" by the support they had received from London and around the world and praised Stephen Lawrence's parents for their relentless fight against institutional racism.

"The struggle of people like Doreen Lawrence in Britain shows us that as in the USA, there is a problem of racial profiling in society and amongst institutions," they said.

"We would like to work with people here in London and around the world to help end the scourge of racial injustice across the globe."

Check out the videos of Trayvon Martin's parents meeting the black community in London.

Category: articles

Friday, May 18, 2012

From left to right: Christiane Taubira, George Pau-Langevin, Victorin Lurel
Three black cabinet members are appointed in the new French Government. With their appointment France is now the frontrunner of political diversity in Europe. In not a single European country with a large black community there has been a black cabinet Minister in recent history.

The line-up. Christiane Taubira, from French Guiana, is the new Minister of Justice. George Pau-Langevin from Guadeloupe, a member of Parliament representing Paris, is named junior Minister for Educational success. And Victorin Lurel, also from Guadeloupe, is the new Minister in charge of overseas departments. He succeeds Marie-Luce Penchard, who was also from Guadeloupe.

Although Taubira is not the first black Minister in France, with her appointment as Minister of Justice she can be seen as being the first black person in France to hold such an important cabinet position. Responding to the question that this cabinet has a lot of diversity, Taubira replied that it also includes the diversity of political, professional and social experiences.

Taubira, who is on the left of the Socialist Party, served as a deputy at the French National Assembly since 1993. She is also the author of a law, now called "Loi Taubira,” voted by the French Assembly in 2001, which recognizes the slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity.

France has made a giant step forward, but the road wasn’t easy. After the ethnic urban riots in 2005 and the violent strikes on the island of Guadeloupe in 2009 it became clear the country lacked diversity in every major institution. To ease the tension, the first black Minister Rama Yade was appointed in 2007. Yade, originally from Senegal, became a junior Minister in the Zarkosy government. In the same year there was a little uproar when black news anchor Harry Roselmack read the news on of France's largest television networks. His appearance was a result of ‘diversity’ talks between the networks and the government. And after the riots in Guadeloupe in 2009 the French Prime Minister quickly installed the first black Minister of the overseas departments, Marie-Luce Penchard, in an attempt to deescalate the conflict.

The biggest difference between the two previous Ministers is that new appointed Ministers are seasoned and well known politicians. With three black cabinet Ministers the French national motto liberté, égalité, fraternité is now enriched with the word that has been shouted in streets of Paris since 2005, 'diversité'. Viva la France!
Category: articles

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thanks to Les 100 mondes de Solange, a video of Thalles Roberto da Silva, the pop rock singer and evangelical pastor from Brazil. The video "Uma História Escrita Pelo Dedo De Deus" ("History Written by the Finger of God") was recorded at the Chevrolet Hall in Belo Horizonte in 2011. What an energy!
Category: articles

Legendary singer Donna Summer died today. She was 63.
Category: articles

Monday, May 14, 2012

Arnaldo Rabell, We Have to Dream in Blue
El Museo del Barrio, Queens Museum of Art and The Studio Museum in Harlem join forces for CARIBBEAN: CROSSROADS OF THE WORLD, a landmark exhibition exploring the history and art of the Caribbean

Multimedia exhibition to open in three venues the week of June 12, 2012, with subsequent Caribbean events and collaborations around NYC.

The exhibition will examine the visual arts and aesthetic development across the Caribbean, considering the histories of the Spanish, French, Dutch and English islands and their Diasporas. An it will highlight over two centuries of rarely-seen works from the Haitian Revolution (c. 1804) to the present.

The show features more than 400 works including painting, sculpture, prints, books, photography, film, video and historic artifacts from various Caribbean nations, Europe and the United States. Transcendent in scope, CARIBBEAN: Crossroads examines the exchange of people, goods, ideas and information between the Caribbean basin, Europe and North America and explores the impact of these relationships on the Caribbean and how it is imagined. This citywide endeavor, supported by a major grant from MetLife Foundation, opens in the midst of Caribbean-American Heritage Month, observed nationally during the month of June.

El Museo del Barrio: June 12, 2012 to January 6, 2013
Queens Museum of Art: June 17, 2012 to January 6, 2013
The Studio Museum in Harlem: June 14, 2012 to October 21, 2012
Category: articles

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Black French flight attendant of Air France is not allowed to wear dreadlocks during his service. The Frenchman of Ivorian origin is now forced to wear his dreads under a wig. But the dress code only applies to men, black women are allowed to wear their hair in dreadslocks.

According to the petition “Hair France, don’t touch our roots” , Aboubakar Traoré was hired as a flight attendant by the Air France in 1999. But he had no idea that such a hairstyle could “harm” the image of the company, considering that not a single of Air France regulations prohibits male flight attendants from wearing dreadlocks. Nevertheless, his managers at Air France went as far as forcing him to wear a wig to hide his hairstyle.

However, Air France’s regulations explicitly allow the wearing of dreadlocks by women, recognizing as such that the hairdo can have strong associations to an individual’s identity.

On May 5th demonstrators protested outside the office of Air France in Paris to protest against the airline’s refusal to change to change rule. They want the company to genuinely consider the ethnic diversity of its personnel, as well of the evolving society, within its regulations. And that the company halt all disciplinary measures being imposed against the flight attendant.

Category: articles

Friday, May 11, 2012

Photo: The Cultural Expose
The holidays are coming up in Europe. If you have plans of visiting Paris and you want do it cheap, this story on The Cultural Exposé can be your guide. UK writer Ena Miller writes about  how she enjoyed a quick trip to Paris on a tight budget.

"London to Paris, Paris to London. All for £69 with Eurostar.

 A casual Skype chat turned into booking-a-holiday-chat. I was delighted, but fearful. With little cash, could I still have a decent holiday in expensive Paris?

 I relied on Travelzoo’s weekly top twenty email to find me a hotel deal. As much as we wanted cheap, we didn’t want scummy. When Hotel Gat Folies popped up, I was relieved.  It was in a cool area called Opera, way less than half its usual price, far enough from the tourist traps, but close enough to still feel involved."
Category: articles
ARC Magazine announces the release of its 5th volume, which presents a collection of works by contemporary artists practicing in the Caribbean and its diaspora.

Featured artists and writers from Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Haiti, Barbados, Martinique, Cuba, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Canada, The Netherlands, The UK, The United States, and Venezuela represent and analyze a variety of media, including photography, illustration, film and video, drawing, sculpture, painting, poetry, performance, installation and mixed media.

The 5th issue of ARC brings together a range of artists and writers exploring and experimenting with concepts of Power, Identity, Blackness, Interpretations of Creolization and Belonging.

Featured Artist: Charl Landvreugd

Surinamese artist Charl Landvreugd interacts with Dutch writer Rob Perée to produce Don't talk Black, Do Black. Their discourse centres on Black European aesthetics, its intricacies, dynamics and language. By taking historical European art forms and embellishing them through a creolized lens, the artist subverts all meaning, creating personal hybrids that seek to expand upon his lived experiences.

Check out the website
Category: articles
Boogie Man, forthcoming, June 2012

In Transition 108, our authors take "the long view from the levee" and survey the muddy flow of African/American history. From the banks of the Mississippi to the back roads of Ivory Coast, manmade dams and barricades block access to our homelands.

But the past has a way of leaking through: West African aesthetic forms in the work of an American sculptor, old soul food joints in the New Newark, the scars of racism in contemporary Cuban art, and the sweet sound of the Gospel Train replaced by Soul Train, a form of secular testifying that taught us to moonwalk down the line.

Check out the table of contents and the interesting links of featured artists at Transition Magazine
Category: articles

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Slavery abolition Memorial in the French city of Nantes opened its doors in March.  Nantes was one of France's leading slave ports and it made the city rich. But the city covered up its dark history for decades.

The city known for its art festival and its Mardi Gras-style carnival, has always boasted of its history as a great industrial city and colonial port. A collective silence covered up the fact that the prosperity of the city's great families, were built on the slave trade.

In the Spiegel Online curator Jouseau said, that for a long time there remained a "loss of memory," supported by a distorted look back at the period of the slave trade. It wasn't until the end of the 1980s that historians, organizations and local politicians began to experience a shift in thinking. The idea to firmly establish the history of slavery into the town's landscape came next. "It wasn't an easy path," Ayrault, the town mayor recalls. "But after initial resistance from reactionaries in the town, the majority of people and politicians ended up backing the plan."

The site of the memorial, the Quai de la Fosse, was the wharf where the slave ships moored before they departed for Africa. The installation comprises a sloping wall of opaque glass that cuts through the wharf's promenade, while a total of 1,710 panels laid into the sidewalk feature the names of slave ships.

In other panels quotations are engraved of black writers, activists and historical figures from diaspora.

The memorial is designed by the Polish artist Krzysztof Wodiczko and the American architect Julian Bonder. According to the designers the memorial is designed in a way visitors will experience the confinement felt by the slaves on board the slave ships.

According to Nantes officials the Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery is unique in Europe.

Exlplore the memorial at the official website at 

The video of the opening ceremony on March 25th 2012
Category: articles

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Amnesty International released the video "Toast To Freedom", which is dedicated to human rights activism around the world. Nearly 50 artists contributed to celebrate Amnesty International's 50th Anniversary.
Toast To Freedom was written by music veterans Carl Carlton and Larry Campbell.

Amnesty International was founded in London in July 1961 by English labour lawyer Peter Benenson.According to his own account, he was travelling in the London Underground on 19 November 1960, when he read of two Portuguese students from Coimbra who had been sentenced to seven years of imprisonment in Portugal for allegedly "having drunk a toast to liberty". Researchers have never traced the alleged newspaper article in question. In 1960, Portugal was ruled by the authoritarian Estado Novo regime.
Category: articles

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The film 30 degrés couleur of Lucien Jean-Baptiste and Philippe Larue’s is a new French comedy. Set in Martinique, the film follows Patrick (40), played by co-director Jean-Baptiste, as he returns to his birthplace after 30 years in France.
Patrick is integrated to the point that he has forgotten his roots, he's Black from the outside and White from inside. He enjoys a bourgeois life in France as a historian, but when he learns his mother is about to die, he heads to Martinique, with his only daughter, and lands right in the middle of the Carnival.

Accompanied by his childhood friend Zamba, he is swept away in three days of madness and into a whirlwind of emotion, humor and incredible situations. Three days that will change his life.

The film was released 14 March 2012 in cinema

The film has no English subtitles.
Category: articles

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Via Shadow And Act
Produced by Nu Century Arts, Birmingham, in partnership with the Octavia Foundation, Margins to Mainstream: The Story of Black Theatre in Britain is a groundbreaking film that builds on previous theatre heritage projects delivered by Nu Century Arts, exploring the history and heritage of black theatre in Britain.

Margins to Mainstream: The Story of Black Theatre in Britain "examines the different interpretations of 'Black British Theatre' as a label and genre and catalogues the incredible contribution of black actors, producers and playwrights to the UK theatre tradition. Featuring previously unseen footage of seminal plays, fascinating interviews with theatre heavyweights, 'Margins to Mainstream' tells the story of a dynamic art."

Historians, playwrights, producers and actors that contributed and appear in the film include Courttia Newland, Javone Prince, Kwame Kwei-Armah, and Pat Cumper.

From Ira Aldridge playing Othello in Covent Garden in the 1830s, to Bashy playing Markus the Sadist in a 'rap opera' in 2010; the richness of this story is in its diversity. The film looks at the forgotten treasures and the landmark performances in the huge canon of work that exists. The film is pioneering in its subject and approach, highlighting the battles and the triumphs of Black British Theatre, on its journey from the margins, into the mainstream.

The film will premiere at The Drum Arts Centre, in Birmingham, on Thursday May 10, @6PM. After that first showing, Margins to Mainstream will have numerous showings that are listed here.

See website

Category: articles

Saturday, April 28, 2012

In the video Caroline Bressey from London's global university gives a mini lecture about London's Black History.

Caroline Bressey is a lecturer in the Department of Geography, UCL. Her research focuses upon recovering the historical geographies of the black community in Victorian Britain, especially London.

Parallel to this are her interests in ideas of race, racism, early anti-racist theory and identity in Victorian society. A large part of her research uses photography and this interest led her to collaborate with the National Portrait Gallery, London, on the representation of black and Asian people in their collections. She has worked as a curator with the National Portrait Gallery and Museum in Docklands.
Category: articles
In our series Black History around the globe, the story of Afro-Brazilian Luis Gama.

By Toyin Ashiru

Luís Gonzaga Pinto da Gama (June 21, 1830 — August 24, 1882) was a Brazilian Romantic poet, journalist, lawyer and a prominent abolitionist

Luis Gama was born in June 21 1830 in Salvador the capital of Bahia which in the 1800s was the most important city for the slave trade in Latin America. He was born to a wealthy white father who would later sell his son at the age of 10 to pay off a gambling debt and a free black woman called Luiza Mahn who was from the Nago nation located in Ghana. Although she had been snatched from Ghana, she had managed to gain her freedom by the time Luis Gama was born and was selling fruit and vegetables on the streets of Salvador.

Luis Gama never told anyone who his father was, but always wrote and spoke freely of his affection for his mother. According to him, his mother was both strong and vindictive which reflected in the fact that she refused to have her son baptised into the Christian religion, she was also known to be a great leader in several uprisings, and is famed for her involvement in the great Males revolt in 1835 where her home was used as headquarters. The revolt involved African Slaves who had converted to Islam and who went on to carry out a series of holy wars in the hope of erasing Christianity and also the white man, the revolt was eventually suppressed and rumour has it that when Luiza Mahan was accused of involvement in the revolt she fled to Rio de Janeiro, but know one knows for certain, what we do know though is; a young Luis Gama was later sold by his father into slavery at the age of 10.

In November 1840 Luis Gama arrived in Rio de Janeiro and was one of 100 slaves purchased by slave trafficker called Antônio Pereira Cardoso. He was to work in the coffee plantations of São Paulo but being from Bahia which had a bad reputation for insurgent slaves, Cardoso couldn’t sell Luis Gama, so he decided to keep him as his personal slave. Gama stayed with his master for 8 years on an estate and learnt how to read and write from a students who rented rooms on the estate. In 1848 Gama escaped and managed to prove that his condition was illegal to justice courts thus becoming a free man.

Once a free man he became a solider in the Urban Guard a military police force where he stayed until 1858 until he was discharged for insubornation, after this he joined the police force and progressed to be the scribe at the Sao Paulo Police Secretariat. He made the most of this job and got to know the legislation and how it was used, he then became a special type of lawyer which was called at the time Rabula (a lawyer without a degree) which was basically a man who made lawsuits on behalf of slaves against their masters. This job highlighted his extraordinary intellect and oratory skills which he used to help the defenceless, who were was the black people of Sao Paulo.

In 1860 Gama published a collection of poems in which he gained huge notoriety and fame for satirizing and mocking Pardos (The Brazilian term for mixed raced or Biracial persons of African and European ancestry ) who wanted to be white and sold out their black brother and sisters by denying their roots so they could join the elite, also poems condemning slavery, his love of black women and of Africa, and the African customs he had experienced growing up in Salvador from his mother and others, this at the time was un heard of. Even though Gama was also a Pardo he found great pride in his blackness and saw himself as black and was proud to have had such a strong and beautiful black mother.

The poems were entitled when first published Primerias trovas burlecas de Getuliano (The burlesque ballads of Getuliano) and the second expanded edition was entitled Novas Trovas Burlescues 1861

In 1869, he lost his job as a scribe due to his behaviour towards a judge who was reluctant to try cases for the release of slaves proposed by him. The dismissal was requested by the Governor of the Province but Luís Gama did not quiver. He replied: “I am honoured at the dismissal I have just received”. He was not only sacked but also sued for libel and defamation.

He took on his own defence before a popular jury and was acquitted by unanimous decision. After this episode, Luís Gama worked as a lawyer and a journalist where he scorned the values of the Paulista elite incompetent judges and the monarchy.

In response the judges accused him inciting rebellion by slaves, the president of São Paulo at the time accused Gama of confounded philanthropy and to much preference towards blacks in the country, this from a country that would later import white Europeans to whiten the country.

Gama was a hero amongst black Brazilians and asserted in articles and speeches that slaves should use violence against their masters if they had to.

Alongside the help of the Paulistano club and the masons. His work made sure that many Negro slaves were freed. His main resource was to use the laws currently in effect, that were not respected by the owners. The most important of these was the 1831 law that declared that any Negroes entering the country after that date would be free. By the end of his career over a 1000 slaves had benefited from his legal assistance.

Gama was also an exceptional journalist and founded Diablo Coxo (lame Devil) Brazil’s first lampoon magazine, which mocked the Brazilian elite also O Cabario he also contributed regularly to three other newspapers and magazines in São Paulo.

During debates over the free womb Gama called for an immediate end of slavery and the other throw of the monarchy, a lot of people in Brazil were very scared of Gama’s power and influence over black people and feared he would inspire blacks to rise to unacceptable positions of power.

His obstinate defence of the Abolitionist and Revolutionary causes meant that Luís Gama had a difficult life, almost impoverished yet he was a hero in Bahia, Salvador and Rio with activists naming abolitionist groups after him also a patriotic Battalion.

He died on 24 August 1882, of diabetes and his burial was a significant event in Brazil. In the city of São Paulo, which then had 40 thousand people, three thousand people followed the coffin of the abolitionist leader which included very prominent figures of São Paulo. The A Província de São Paulo newspaper published the following comment: “This capital city has never seen such an imposing and spontaneous expression of intense pain and nostalgia from a whole population, towards one citizen.” About Luís Gama, Rui Barbosa said the following: “The heart of an angel, a brilliant mind, a torrent of eloquence, dialectics and grace”.
Category: articles

The Afro-Brazilian group Ilê Aiyê and Brazilian rapper Criolo joint together for the video "Ilê Aiyê". The video is sponsered by the Brazilian energy company Petrobraz.

Ilê Aiyê was founded in 1974 in the neighborhood of Liberdade, the largest black population area in Salvador, Bahia. Ilê Aiyê means “house of life” in Yoruba. Ilê Aiyê combined the art of carnival including costumes, music, accessories, songs and dance with principles of respect for heritage, ancestry, elders, spirituality, symbolism and community development to become a leading institution representing African culture in Bahia.

Check out the music of Ilê Aiyê at
Category: articles

Friday, April 27, 2012

UK guest blogger Kemi traveled to Africa. She thought she would be re-immersed into her original roots and culture, but she found something else. 


Colonial Mentality, by Kemi

In 2010, I longed for a change of environment, and decided I wanted to travel to other parts of the world for some time, and then thought going to Africa for a year would be ideal since many had accused me of losing touch with my roots, so off I went to West Africa to spend one year in Nigeria.

I expected that I would be re-immersed into my original roots and culture. But I was to be surprised because most of the people I met suffered from a condition that’s best described as ‘colonial mentality’.

In his book, Colonial Mentality in Africa, Michael Nkuzi Nnam describes (African) colonial mentality as an unintentional attempt by Africans to continue to behave like they are still under colonial rule. It happens when people who have been colonised accept the culture or doctrines of the coloniser as fundamentally better or more superior. It usually means the colonised feel inferior or improper if they don’t adopt the coloniser’s ideals.

So in what ways did I notice this trend?

Fashion / Appearance

I didn’t expect Nigerian people to dress like cave men or women, but I expected that people would be prouder of their heritage. On a positive note, I did notice that a lot of Nigerians took a lot of pride in their culture and this was evident in the food they ate and the colourful, fanciful, Nigerian clothing they wore. Most companies even had the policy of advising employees to wear traditional Nigerian clothing on Fridays, a sort of ‘dress down Friday’ initiative, which I really loved. However, when it came to physical beauty, unfortunately, I’d say a lot of Nigerians, in fact a lot of Africans, are still nursing a colonial mentality. I was coming from the Western world, where many black women were becoming more and more aware of their roots, becoming proud of these, and showing it by starting movements such as those that encourage natural hair. Natural, thick, full, black hair has become a sort of statement (and dare I say aspirational trend) for many black women in the Western world, and rightly so, celebrated. However, in Nigeria, the ideal woman has Brazilian or Indian hair extensions which she buys with half of her salary. If (especially as a woman) you carried a funky natural style or afro around in Nigeria, you automatically would be assumed to be some religious zealot or mad being. I tell you.

Everyone’s got their right to adopt whatever look they feel works for them, and this is not a campaign against wearing human hair extensions; but truth be told, let’s call a spade a spade, let’s hit the nail on the head, let’s not beat about the bush, if you feel incomplete, improper or inferior when rocking your natural hair, you have a case of colonial mentality.

Apart from the hair, I notice that even among most Africans, lighter skin complexions are favoured over darker skin tones. More so in Nigeria, it is evident in pop culture, and for example in some Yoruba music lyrics which use words like ‘omo pupa’ (light-skinned girl) or ‘apon-bepo-re’ (as light as palm oil) to describe a man’s ideal woman. Women with lighter skin tones are seen as more beautiful. The dark complexion of a woman now baits unpleasant jesting. Duduyemi as a name has become a joke, in fact some sort of sarcasm, rather than the statement of black beauty it is supposed to represent. So it is no surprise that skin bleaching creams are all over the beauty shops in Nigeria, in Africa, even in many parts of Asia. This is simply colonial mentality.


A lot of Nigerians eat their own native food, which they refer to as ‘proper food’. Proper because any other food is not proper. That’s a beautiful thing. But then you find that when a lot of Nigerians want to show that they are well-off or posh, they don’t go for ‘proper food’. For example, if you know you really love ‘proper food’, but because you want to appear posh at a Nigerian party you decide to go for foreign plates, you are clearly suffering from colonial mentality.


There is a certain perception of affluence you get in Nigeria if as a native you have a foreign surname. If you are Nigerian, you may not agree because it’s one of those attitudes that have been so subconsciously ingrained in the society, so, few people are aware of or even talk about it. In Nigerian movies, I’ve observed that most times, rich kids are portrayed as bearing surnames such as ‘Williams’, ‘Davies’, ‘Philip’ or ‘Brown’. There’s nothing wrong with having a non-Nigerian surname, after all, if that’s your lot, there’s not much you can do about it, you didn’t choose it, you were born into it. However, what is wrong is the perception of such names as superior/better, compared to indigenous names.

Colonial Mentality or Acculturation?

Having said all that though, colonial mentality is not the only reason people adopt non-indigenous values or cultures. Let’s face it; there is this issue of globalisation. Every single day, the world keeps converging to become a global village. No country is an island on its own (figuratively speaking!). Thanks to technology, education, travel and many other factors, inter-continent and inter-country interactions make us all share our cultural tastes. We begin to discover new ways of doing things, and adopt them, if we prefer them to our own cultures. It’s probably mostly also a case of acculturation, where people take on new cultures and psychological attitudes after their own cultures intercept with others’. Even in our culinary choices, Chinese cuisines, for example, are not only popular and loved in Western countries, they are now becoming popular in many other countries, and especially in Nigeria, where there are a growing population of people who continue to discover and add new dimensions to their palate. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have a colonial mentality if they prefer foreign food over their native food. It’s all about motives really. If people are trying out different things to see what works for them, then it is understandable. But there is clearly an issue when somebody thinks less of something they like personally, just because the world says it is not the ‘ideal’.

Of course you do have your rights to choose who you want to be, what you want to wear and the message (s) you want to pass across in your chosen way of life. Just always remember that it’s your life at the end of the day, and letting the world dictate for you what you should do with your life is surrendering the control of your life to the manipulative demands of that world.

Fela Kuti, one of Africa’s most prominent musicians before his death wrote a song titled ‘Colo Mentality’. Even though he shortened the word ‘colonial’ to ‘colo’, that title is an amusing pun, because colo in Nigerian slang means ‘crazy’ or ‘mad’. An excerpt from the lyrics from the song says: “Dem don release una, but you never release yourself.” Translation: They (the colonisers) have released you, but you have not released yourself.

As Bob Marley put it, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.”

The colonial masters have released you. Now release yourself.

Kemi is an ex-journalist based in the UK, of Nigerian origin, who I likes to compare cultures of Africans at home and those in the diaspora.  Her blog:
Category: articles

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Alabama Shakes is the American pop sensation at this moment and they are touring Europe.

With lead singer Brittany Howard (23) the band performed on The Late Show with David Letterman. And they made their first UK television debut on April 24, where they appeared on Later... with Jools Holland and performed "Hold On" and "Hang Loose". Next stop is Bitterzoet Amsterdam on Tuesday May 1.
Category: articles

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Via Shadow and Act
The French film Intouchables is a hit in France. White and Black French alike, love the film. Even in (Francophone) Africa it is a great succes, wrote Sibo in his review. But the American film magazine Variety called it "The kind of Uncle Tom racism one hopes has permanently exited American screens." It's clear that French people love it and Americans probably will hate it?

The Weinstein Company is planning to release it in the USA next month, May 25. But Variety warned, "the Weinstein Co., which has bought remake rights, will need to commission a massive rewrite to make palatable this cringe-worthy comedy about a rich, white quadriplegic hiring a black man from the projects to be his caretaker, exposing him to 'culture', while learning to loosen up. Sadly, this claptrap will do boffo Euro biz."

In an interview with Anthem Magazine Omar Sy addresses the US critiques of Intouchables.
ANTHEM MAG - The Los Angeles Times has said that the film has some ‘crying racism.’ Variety proclaimed that your role as Driss is ‘a role barely removed from the jolly house slave of yore.’ I don’t personally share these views, but I would love to get your thoughts on what certain American critics are saying.

OMAR SY - I didn’t see any racist elements. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have done this movie. I would need to see what those critics are talking about, specifically. I did read a few things here and there, but I want to make it clear that, in France, things are very different than the U.S. on a social level. The two societies have not evolved in the same way. In France, when you look at the poor and the privileged in the city suburbs, all immigrant communities live together and share the same environment. You’ll find people from places like Northern Africa and Portugal living together. In the U.S., it’s not like that. I would need more information on what these critics are saying, but we should look at all the details. Then we could explain the reasons behind it. It would take a long time and we would need a whole new movie about that.

Sibo, who is Francophone,  wrote in his review. "It is true that the film is full of clichés and racial stereotypes. As the film is rather kind than harsh it seems from this perspective that the film is a French version of Uncle Tom's Cabin. But I don't think that's what the film is about. Race is used to accentuate differences but race is not the subject of the film. 'Untouchables' is about lonely human beings with very different backgrounds finding friendship and love. However, Variety sees race as the center element of the film."

And also a French speaking couple who commented on the posting loved the film.

I must admit that when I saw the trailer I immediately saw the racial stereotypes, the cultivated white person versus the uneducated black man from the streets. But maybe a lot of French people also saw the stereotypes, but didn't label them as racist.

Category: articles

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Debate:  Am I Black Enough for You? - Photo: Aad Hoogendoorn
When Black Swedish artist Makode Linde pictured himself black-faced and screaming in front of a cake portraying a mutilated African woman, he probably would have counted to ten if had lived in the US or in an African country. But perhaps the complexity of a being a Black artist in Europe creates another perspective.

In a debate “Am I Black Enough for You?", which was held in the Netherlands, Dutch Black artists discussed the perspective of being a Black artist in a European country.  Does Black in The Netherlands mean the same as Black in Anglo-American regions? Should you present yourself as being from an immigrant background, as multicultural or as Dutch? And should you look inward to reflect on your own Black history, instead of confronting the Dutch public with your colonial history? And last but least, should an artist be politically engaged?

About the debate Dutch artist Charl Landvreugd wrote the article entitled "Contributes to how we see ourselves within an expanding Europe". An adaptation of the introduction to the debate evening Am I Black Enough for You? “Notes on Black Dutch Aesthetics”, 26 October 2010.

The debate was held in  Rotterdam in the Netherlands in 2010 and a similar debate will be held upcoming june in SMBA Amsterdam (2012) 

Am I Black Enough for You?

It is time to initiate a critical engagement with a Black-Dutch consciousness in the visual arts. An important aspect of this is to do so in Dutch so that we develop our own language usage to discuss our specific social constructions. Up to now the language used to speak about nonwhite subjects is produced in Anglo-American regions. In order to avoid misinterpretation, I choose the word Black here to denote people of colour. A word such as Black does not have the same connotations in our environment as it does in the Anglo-American context. Using the word Black allows us to give our own interpretation to the concept. From this viewpoint, it ought to be possible in the visual arts to define certain parameters of specific Black Dutch aesthetics without falling into a definition that is derived from the British and American models. Even though we do not yet know precisely what Black means, we can at least make a start.

Giving shape to a Dutch idea of Black starts by a definition that already assumes exclusion. In the case of the debate “Am I Black Enough for You?” it means a gathering of only black cultural innovators and the emphasis of the debate among black people about work created by black people: a black discussion about Black. Consciously rooted in a multiple self, this is not about a struggle for emancipation. The new generation of black Dutch artists and cultural innovators claims without reservation the space to which all Dutch artists believe they are entitled. This involves a Black self-awareness that is Dutch.

Black self-awarenes

Black self-awareness, however, is not the same as a multi-cultural self-awareness. The multicultural definition is formulated by the multi-culturally-inclined bourgeoisie which consists largely of white Dutch people. The “multi” in cultural life defines the creative activities of Dutch artists with a black heart and exterior as multi-cultural and never as Black. As long as opinions relating to works created by Black artists are relegated to that position, they will not easily be regarded as Black Dutch works. It is important, when developing a view of the work, that the undermining and warping of western imagery is not always recognised – there is a certain lack of knowledge of non-western symbolism and philosophy. In some cases the artist chooses not to include any visual aspect of Blackness in his or her work. This makes viewing the work as Black even more of a problem because the visual language provides no clues. Embedded in a discourse that takes place from the white, multi-cultural viewpoint, one could ask with whom are these artists communicating through their work? How are they contributing towards a broader Black consciousness or Black Dutch knowledge dissemination?

Is the artist involved in Blabk self-reflection?
What does Black self-reflection signify in Dutch art? Cry Surinam by Felix de Rooij from 1992 is one of the most remarkable works in this context. It is a sculpture created from an oil stove with a book about the tropics resting on it and a bone and a black skull on top of that.

See more photos at Agnosia 2011 installation shots - Photo: Charl Landvreugd

The image cries out in silence. Critics Rob Perrée and West-Durán say it is a parody of the Surinamer who has abandoned the warmth of his country in exchange for the chill of the Netherlands. 1 For first-generation Surinamers Cry Surinam was a medium for self-reflexivity and the work poses the question of whether migration was really the best choice. For their children, the work plays on those elements that, since the nineteen seventies, have formed part of the creation of a Black-Dutch subjectivity. In fact, the generation of the seventies was raised to integrate and be absorbed into Dutch society. Their full integration has left the legacy that there are some subjects about which it is forbidden to speak out loud, such as slavery and everyday racism. This is the price that had to be paid. Cry Surinam is one of the first attempts in the visual arts to express criticism of today’s Black Dutch identity. It is a unique, Dutch work that lays bare the cultural layers that must be penetrated in order to achieve institutional criticism and self-reflection. The fact that, after all these years, it has still not been purchased, speaks for itself.

Does the artist present him/herself as being from an immigrant background, as multicultural or as Dutch?
With the so-called “failure” of the multi-cultural society, the nation’s struggle with identity takes place in a politically-divided, middle-class society. It seems that order must be restored. A middle-class conflict has developed between the “authentic original inhabitant” – the white Dutch person, and the “incomer” – the Dutch person of colour, as two different classes divided by their colour line and religious backgrounds. The question of the political positioning of an artist can play a very significant role when analysing his or her work. Even though it would be a very interesting position, I have been unable to find a single visual artist who would politically position themselves as being of immigrant background. A conscious positioning as multi-cultural, however, is frequently found.


An example of this is the multimedia artist Dwight Marica. With the coloured wires around the television in the sculpture Space Object, series 2099, he expressed the idea of a streamlined, multi-cultural society. He defends this extreme, politically-correct position by saying that clichés are not merely stylistic figures but make up his daily reality and that he must respond to them. In later versions of the Space Object, series 2099, the TV in the earlier series develops into a more abstract and less literal form that demonstrates the transforming reality of multi-cultural society.

Photo: Stichting Public Art Squad

Black is not multi-cultural

Some artists are not satisfied with positioning themselves as Dutch. Dutch without any hyphen or excuse. Sara Blokland is one of these artists. Her dual-blooded legacy and the Dutch identity therein is the central thesis in her work. In the installation Reproduction of Family part 1&2, Blokland displays her family in the photographic memory of a historical setting.

Photo: America Dutch Art Events by the Kingdom of the Netherlands

She reflects on the exoticism in the photography and in the production of history. Her family is captured as a collection of images and objects in an installation consisting of a table with ceramic and historical photographic material. The nature of the work brings anthropological and decorative events to the foreground. The individual becomes a part of a scientific approach that creates a tension between the index of a photographic image and the instability of its meaning.2 In her work Blokland illustrates a Dutch identity that is Black and not really very multi-cultural.

Does the artist attempt to bridge the internal ideological gulf in the Black Dutch community?
An example of a contrasting strategy can be found in the work of Iris Kensmil. This artist uses history in her life-sized paintings to fill the ideological gaps and to hold a mirror before us all. Instead of confronting the Dutch public directly with our colonial history, she makes this visible by showing “other histories”. Kensmil plays with the ideological Négritude3 movement and stories from the African Diaspora.

Photo: Iris Kensmil

She uses Afro-American heroes from the American Civil Rights Movement, for example, and Surinam heroes such as Anton de Kom and Maroon tribal chiefs. By promoting Black knowledge dissemination, Kensmil makes a statement about Black unification. By calling for unity from a Black consciousness, she tries in her work to build a bridge in the Afro-Dutch community.

Does the artist engage with the political functioning of Dutch society?
An artist who also denounces the political functioning of Dutch society in general is Remy Jungerman. His wall installation Bakru from 2007 attempts to reflect on knowledge dissemination in the Dutch nation and a new way of suggesting it. Jungerman uses various objects in his Bakru piece that refer to Afro-Surinam Winti philosophy. He adorns a garden gnome with an African mask and thus refers to the forgotten god-like functionality of the figure.

Remy Jungerman / Bakru 2008 - Photo: Aatjan Renders

The joke among people with a Surinam background is that the garden gnome, both in size and functionality, is the same as a Bakru (a Surinamese dwarf entity who, like the gnome, helps in and around the house). In general, western thinking leaves no room for such interpretations of reality and both the garden gnome and the Bakru are banished to the land of fairy tales.

Jungerman places the masked gnome in a structure of wooden laths that initially suggest the modernistic structures of Mondriaan. The artist insists, however, that the play of lines is derived from the chequered pagne, a shawl that is worn by Afro-Surinamese people in a social ritualistic or religious setting. If we are to believe the artist, then the work should be viewed in the context of contemporary African and African Diaspora art. Jungerman uses the pagne in fact to create a link to the West-African weaving and dying tradition of which the Kente cloth is the best example. Contemplating his work would benefit from doing so based on the theory that developed from it, as is done with the work of the Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui.4
Suffice it, for now, to say that the Afro-Surinamese lens that Jungerman uses in his work focuses unity into plurality. It neutralises neo-racist tendencies and accepts a variety of manifestations of Dutch identity as authentically intrinsic. In doing this, Jungerman, like writer Edgar Cairo, reminds people of Afro-Surinam origin of the paradigms that have formed their community throughout the centuries. At the same time he criticises the Dutch institutionalised way of knowledge dissemination and offers Afro-Surinamese metaphysics as an extra method to allude to the situation in a different way.

The idea of Black in the European continental visual arts

When we look at the work and the positions of artists such as Remy Jungerman, iris Kensmil, Sara Blokland, Dwight Marica and Felix de Rooij, and the positions they adopt, it becomes clear that what is designated as multi-cultural can also be seen as Black. It therefore depends on who is posing the question and which questions are raised. Regardless of borrowed styles and figures, it is essential to view the work also with due attention to the philosophical and visual baggage that the artist carries. The positions, criticism and new forms that are distilled from this can help formulate the idea of Black in the European continental visual arts. It is true, here, that the visual arts can help to describe Black as a European identity that 3 Négritude began as a literary movement of French-speaking black poets who were looking for an answer to the colonial situation; the term also describes a broader idea of solidarity in the search for a common, black identity.


Title :“Notes on Black Dutch Aesthetics”, Conversations on Paramaribo Perspectives, Ed. M. Dolle. Rotterdam: Tent Rotterdam, 2011.

First Published in “Notes on Black Dutch Aesthetics”, Conversations on Paramaribo Perspectives, Ed. M. Dolle. Het beste van De Unie in Debat (een uitgave van de Rotterdamse Kunststichting, 2011).

This article was published on Afro-Europe with courtesy of the Rotterdamse Kunststichting and Dutch artist Charl Landvreugd


Video of the opening of the group exposition of Dutch Black Artist "Agnosia" in Amsterdam South-East in The Netherlands in 2011

Also see the website of Paramaribo SPAN project, a conversation between Surinamese Artist in Surinam and in The Netherlands about contemporary art and visual culture in Suriname, website:
Category: articles

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bob Marley's granddaughter Donisha Prendergast in India
Since the 1960‟s, journalists, scholars and filmmakers have been examining the Rastafarian movement in an attempt to explain its origins and its core beliefs. Today, there is a growing collection of literature and films about Rastafari and now, RasTa: A Soul‟s Journey is a welcome addition to this expanding body of work.

RasTa: A Soul‟s Journey, tells the story of the journey of Rita and Bob Marley's granddaughter‟s, Donisha Prendergast, to eight countries -- United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, India, Israel, Canada and Jamaica and Ethiopia -- to explore the roots, evolution and impact of Rastafari.

Donisha acts as the irrepressible and charming guide, educating viewers about a way of life that many know little about beyond the dreadlocks, ganja, and the red, gold, and green. Along the way, she encounters Rastafarian elders, musicians, poets, professors and individuals who share personal stories of the influence of Donisha‟s iconic grandfather, Bob Marley, on their lives.

Moving away from the standing approaches to Rastafari and Jamaica, RasTa: A Soul’s Journey focuses on the international presence of Rastafari and the friendly people and places where the uplifting spirit of the movement can be found. In wanting to carry the torch of her famous family, Donisha uses this film to re-affirm the classic statement of her grandfather that indeed „Rasta is the future‟. At its heart, RasTa: A Soul‟s Journey, is a film that follows and celebrates a young
woman‟s quest as she comes into her own as a Rasta Empress.

With appearances by Rita Marley, Damien Marley, Dr. Benjamin Zephaniah, Ras Levi Roots, RasTa: A Soul’s Journey is a contemporary examination of this fascinating movement. This documentary was Executive Produced and Produced by Patricia Scarlett, Produced by Marilyn Gray, and Directed by Stuart Samuels, along with the help of a team committed to the project and the support of family and friends. This film is now ready for the world to see.

The Film has screened in Canada and the US and will premiere in the UK in October during Black History Month. For Sweden, Italy, Spain, Germany, France and the The Netherlands there are no firm dates as yet.

See website
Category: articles

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Swedish artist who made the blackface cake that has caused an international firestorm is himself a black man and says he created the cake to critique Western ideas of blackness. In a video interview with Al Jazeera, Makode Linde also said Sweden’s Minister of Culture, whose laughter at the cake angered many, had nothing to do with his decision to present it. ”She wasn’t aware of how the cakes would look,” Linde said. “And when she saw the cake and found out that it was partly alive, she got quite suprised.

Read the full story at our content partner Dominion of New York.
Category: articles

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth cuts cake depicting a black woman: Photo, Facebook
The National Association of Afro-Swedes calls for the resignation of Culture Minister Lena Adelsohn Roth. At the celebration of World Art Day April 15 she cut up a cake portraying a naked black woman. According to the association, she participated in a "tasteless racist manifestation."

According to Afro Swedes' Association the cake represented a racist caricature of a black woman. According to the Modern Museum, the intention was to problematise female circumcision.

To say that you did this with good intention only amplifies the mockery of people who suffer from racism and against women who are victims of circumcision, says Kitimbwa Sabuni, who is spokesperson for The National Association of Afro-Swedes.

One cannot see how it benefits those people to degrade them in this way with racist caricatures in this kind of mocking spectacle, says Kitimbwa Sabuni.

The National Association of Afro-Swedes demands that the Culture Minister resigns.The confidence for her is exhausted. It is such a serious infraction. She as a minister must have sense and must be able to say enough is enough and not participate in this as a representative of the Swedish Government, he said.

We will seek clarification from the Prime Minister, says Kitimbwa Sabuni.

Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth understands the reactions. I understand very well that this provokes, and it was a very bizarre situation. I was invited to speak at World Art Day on artistic freedom and the right to provoke. And then they wanted me to cut up a cake first, she said.

The National Association of Afro-Swedes believes it was a racist caricature of the woman. If so, then they have to turn to the artist, I do not review art, but I can very well understand that the whole situation can be misinterpreted.

The Swedish paper Espressen asked the Minister why she still cut the cake? "In any case, everyone did, but it was perhaps a bit of a shocking situation and that was also what the artist wanted to achieve I suppose. He claims that it challenges a romantic and exotifying approach from the West at what is really about violence and racism. That's what I have learned about the artwork afterwards. The art must be allowed to be provocative," says Adelsohn Roth. (source Urbanlife)

Response of the artist Makode Linde

The artist Makode Linde, who is black,  believes that Afro Swedes National Association misunderstood his artwork, which he regrets, according to Expressen

Makode Linde is known for in his art, which is based on racism, xenophobia and slavery. The cake, which was part of his work, was to make a Western perception of Africa in contrast to the real picture of slavery and oppression. He also stresses that the main purpose of the cake was not to depict mutilation.

Sanza, thanks for the tip!
Category: articles
Curated by Thenublack and the forFATHERS project More Than XY is an exhibition that will celebrate the role of Fathers and positive role models in the Black community. The curators of More Than XY are mounting this show to increase the awareness of the fathers who are active parents in their children’s lives and to provide exposure for the artists expressing their views of fatherhood through visuals.

The show is their way to challenge the often imbalanced portrayal of black men being absent fathers and negative role models. This exhibition celebrates not only the role of Black Fathers but also to highlight positive black male role models who play an integral part in the lives of young people growing up.

While realizing the importance of the individual voice, More Than XY will also encourage visitors to the exhbition to not only to view the works submitted by the Artists, but to be a part of the exhibition themselves by asking them to bring photographs of their fathers/positive role models to be placed on a message wall where they will also be able to write messages to and about their fathers.

Research shows that reading aloud to children is vital because it helps them acquire the information and skills they need in life. The More Than XY show will therefore include a Storytime section for young children attending the show which will include special guests reading some well loved children’s stories to a small group of children.

The first show will take place in London in June and then move to a gallery space in Brooklyn, NY in August.

In London: 17th - 30th June 2012 @ The Darnley Gallery (Centre for Better Health 1A Darnley Road Londen E96QH)

Official Opening: June 17th 3PM to 7:30PM
Category: articles

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Melanie Scholtz, the Jazz singer from Cape Town South Africa. This video is her debut single off her 2010 release 'Connected'.
Category: articles

Friday, April 13, 2012

What has Hip-Hop to do with the 2012 French presidential election? In order to get more votes from young blacks and Arabs in the suburbs, the left wing candidate François Hollande recently YouTubed his latest campaign video with the music of “Niggas in Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye West. In the video he is walking in the French suburbs surrounded by black and Arab people.

Although critics call it a cheap move, it seems to be working. After appearing on YouTube on Tuesday, the video has already been watched over 28,000 times. The buzz on Twitter has so far been positive. But not everybody has been fooled. Some web users are complaining of “ethnic marketing”, according to France 24.

To find out if the Hip-Hop video will have effect we will have to wait. The first round of the 2012 French presidential election will take place on 22 April 2012, with a second round run-off, if necessary, being held on 6 May. French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, is running for a second successive term in the election.
Category: articles

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Natasha Bowens interviews a young woman at East New York Farms. Photo by Hugues Anhes.
Because green and Black is a much needed combination, today the story of Natasha Bowens. She is a  farmer and food activist in New York, who is making a difference in her community. 

This story originally appeared on Dominion of New York, the international magazine of black intellectual swagger.

Written by: Kelly Virella

Natasha Bowens was living in Washington, D.C. and working for the Center for American Progress as a healthcare advocate, earning a livable $35,000 per year, when she began longing to live and work on a farm, to put her hands into the dirt and cultivate fruits and vegetables.

In December 2009, the University of Florida graduate packed her bags and headed to Argentina for three weeks to do just that. The then-25-year-old was already an environmental activist and was starting to believe that one of the best ways to protect the environment and improve health was to grow food responsibly.

When she returned from Argentina, she began Google searching urban farms and community gardens where she could work in exchange for housing and food. She found a farm she liked in Brooklyn and in July 2010, with $1,300 in savings, quit her job and headed there.

Her journey — which she documented for the online magazine Grist — has been eye-opening, not only for her, but for dozens more black farmers and black-farmer-wannabes, who seldom see themselves represented in agriculture.

A century-and-a-half after plantation slavery, the last thing many black people want to be associated with is working on a farm and that’s exactly what Bowens and her fellow farmers want to change.

“A lot of my black friends are like, ‘What are you doing? You’re going back to picking cotton?’” Bowens says. “I kept hearing this kind of stigma especially from youth, from a lot of first generation immigrant youth whose parents would, over their dead bodies, let their youth go into farming.”

Yet farming is one way that black communities can increase their control over their food supply, reducing food deserts, hunger and the health problems that stem from them. It’s called food justice.

“It’s a beautiful, powerful thing to be able to feed your own community and we should be the ones to lead the way,” Bowens adds.

Bowens spent her first three months as a full-time farmer at East New York Farms in Brooklyn and her first full-season as a farmer in Wassaic, New York, on a 4-person, multiracial, Duchess County organic farm, about 90-miles north of New York City. After working 70 to 80 hours per week cultivating herbs and vegetables, she and her fellow farmers sold their harvests at two Bronx farmers markets and at two in Duchess County, filling the demand of a lot of West Indian families for medicinal roots and herbs.

To dispel the myth that black people don’t farm, Bowens began creating an online map of the food justice movement, documenting the locations of people of color who are farmers, food activists, grocery co-op founders, and more.

Video Color of Food (USA)

In the UK there are three black farmers. One of them is the famous Wilfred Emmanuel Jones who created the brand The Black Farmer.
Black Farmer - UK
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