We Cannot Call Anywhere Our Home
We cannot call anywhere our home!!
Here is the plea of so many African Americans, who proudly consider Africa to be the land of their ancestry and ancestors.
As I was checking out the bold launch of The State of the Diaspora last week in Paris, which pegged itself to the official entity that is the 6th region of the African Union, I met two beautiful African American sisters who have repatriated to Ghana and encourage others to do so.
The 6th region has an important role in their view, as it is meant to be the official entity representing all the Historic Unique African Diasporas as a result of the Transatlantic Slave Trade such as Black people of African Descent in South America, North America and the Caribbean… which account for 170 million people according to the African Union (AU). These groups, despite their African descent are not granted African Citizenships, even though a proportion of them would happily repatriate to Africa should they have the opportunity and legal right to do so. Hence, the importance for these unique groups to be constituted into a State attached to the African Union to be accounted for and eventually granted citizenships. Whilst the 6th region has full legitimacy, the auto-proclaimed creation of a State of the Diaspora is regrettable in my view.
I believe that the alleged Prime Minister would have gained much more credibility as a Head of Project aiming to constitute a State represented by a Government democratically elected. Additionally, it must be said that this project of a State has only received the backing of 3 countries, so far, that are part of the African Union. It would need far more than a 5th of African States supporting the initiative to have a legitimate existence.
As a result, this meeting was vehemently boycotted by a number of Pan African groups. I do understand their stance although I deeply dislike the manner in which some of these groups came to the press conference to publicly humiliate those involved not considering that the Caribbean and South American dignitaries who were present had a different status. There are ways of expressing disagreement, even to condemn actions but, disrespecting flesh and blood will never take us very far as a people. In my view, it simply demonstrates very little respect for oneself and others.
Coming back to my two precious sistahs, both retirees in their seventies; they had flown over from Ghana, connected flights at Addis Ababa to arrive in Paris to see what they could learn from their brothers and sisters in Europe. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be so and after hate speeches broke out at the press conference, one of our precious Mamas fell ill and was urgently taken to hospital in an ambulance due to high blood pressure. I am so grateful that both my friend Mohamadou and myself were there at the time it happened and were able to support as it was out of the question that they should be left on their own, knowing that they couldn’t speak French.
As for me, the value of attending this event was meeting with them and what I found out about their plea.
Auntie Earna is a beautiful sistah from Detroit who repatriated to Ghana when she retired from her teaching job. Auntie Earna’s first encounter with the continent of her ancestors was at 8 years old when she met a first African national. At 11 years old, she was given her first National Geographic magazine by her dad which had he found on a bus. She read all about different places in Africa and knew then that’s where she wanted to go. Her dad admonished her to have a good education as this would be her passport to go anywhere in the world. When she was 15, a secondary school teacher introduced her class to African History in which they were taught about the different African countries and their capitals. As a young adult, Earna started to meet a variety of African Nationals such as Ethiopians, Ghanaian and more and she started working 2 to 3 jobs so one day she could go to Africa. This she eventually did, going back and forth to 18 African countries taking students and teachers with her. Then in June 2000 after a key encounter, she bought a piece of land in Ghana, built her house in 2002 and retired there from teaching. However, it took almost 15 years for her to be granted citizenship. Auntie Earna would say “So many of us are interested in going back. Quite a few of us ended up going to Ghana”. However, once they arrive in Ghana, many African Americans who currently amount to 7,000 people in Ghana alone, pensioners contributing to a minimum of 63 million dollars a year, often have a tourist visa and become illegal once the tourist visa has run out, as there is no swift procedure to recognise this Historical Unique diaspora as lawful Africans.
Mama Imakhus Okofu also known as “One Africa” decided to repatriate to Ghana in 1989 with her husband. They own a health resort which serves as a retreat. Mama Imakhus believes that the mission given to her by the ancestors is “to help as many people as possible to escape from the US.”
To her, The United States remains a land of exploitation of the Black race, the only place in the world where Black citizens are an amendment to the constitution (3/5th of a man), who have eventually been bonified as full humans and granted citizenships. Up to today, she will explain that the Voters Rights Bill still determines every 25 years if Black people can continue voting. Black people, who are undeniably, the builders of America, the farming land, are the only ethnic group this applies to.
However, for these Africans born in America who have been called “negros, coloured, black, Afro-American, African-American”, the reality is bleak when it comes to being recognised on the African continent. Many retirees arrive in Africa with the will and the desire to contribute to the development of the country only to be looked upon as outsiders.
As Ghana was publicly declaring “the year of return”, both Earna and Imakhus attended the Homecoming Summit only to realise that this call to the diaspora was for Ghanaians leaving abroad. Yet, they are hopeful that the message is more than a touristic plot and this year, 250 African Americans who have lived in the country for over 25 years have applied for citizenship and are awaiting a conclusive outcome.
One Africa has also championed a petition in Ghana, click below for more information on the work of these two beautiful sistahs and mamas, as well as for more info on the 6th region of the AU.
This is a FREE FAMILY FRIENDLY COMMUNITY EVENT to celebrate Black History Month that will take place on Saturday 12th October 2019 in Wood Green Library from 12 to 4pm.
The event will be opened by Haringey’s Mayor Cllr Sheila Peacock at 12noon. There will be an African Cultural and Artistic Market with vendors selling a range of items from original fashion pieces, accessories, jewellery, arts and crafts, books and natural products. There will also be drumming and drama workshops by All Eyes on Egypt and BAP face painting by NaaLa Lartey, an ACLT blood donor registration drive, charities and local community organisations holding stalls such as Haringey IAPT, Obaseki Solicitors, Manhood Academy whilst Reggae Britannia will be providing food.
Guest Speakers will be Patrick Vernon OBE and Danny Thompson who will both present on Black History Month.
This event is open to all. Let's come together to learn and celebrate Black History as well as networking with and discovering artists, artisans, charities and grassroot community organisations all working for the good of our communities.
For more info, see website below:
Disrupt Space is a visual arts agency established to nurture and represent emerging Black visual artists. The company will recruit artists to accelerate their progression and build a platform for the future.
The new venture begins with a display of works of art called CONVERSATIONS IN COLOUR that can be seen at The Department Store in Brixton (from 11th - 13th of October, 12 - 5pm). Here, artists Lola Betiku, Marlon Stewart, Sharon Adebisi and Gus Brooks-Simpson take centre stage to unveil their work; some of which has been prepared just for the show.
To mark the occasion, Disrupt Space has invited one of our leading Black visual artist, Alvin Kofi of Kofi Arts to contribute to the programme. On Sunday 13th October (2 - 4pm) Kofi will present and preview work from his forthcoming coming collection entitled 'Figures in a Landscape’.
Contact details and social below:
Visiting Gus of Ba Khem Arts this week in Shoreditch was a real highpoint for me. This talented young Brother really had me thinking. I arrived with no expectations really, just open I suppose to see what the Brother has going on but I left lifted and thinking how fortunate I was to catch this on the last day of his exhibition.
The style of work reminded me of the kind of art you’d see on the front of some iconic album covers from back in the day. A whole bunch of references came flooding back; all brought to life by the explanation from the artist, who fluently talked though each and every piece with a passion.
You could miss this work with a glance but pause for a moment and join the dots up and you’ll see there’s a lot going on here.
As Gus goes about the business of applying thought to canvas, I got an overwhelming sense that he’s channeling. The lived experiences of personal relationships finds a way to be heard through references to ancient traditions, contemporary society and future visioning. Every piece is conceptual with a suggestion of cultural download.
I was left thinking... Wow! what a wealth of potential and creativity in our community. We really must find ways for this to grow and prosper.
Review of Ba Khem Arts by Paul Reid
See a selection of Ba Khem Arts work below and his website!!
This year, we will be back at Africa Fashion Week 2019 as a media partner for their 9th edition which will be taking place on the 9th & 10th of August.
This year's event is destined to mark a milestone in the history of Africa Fashion Week through the inclusion of several facets designed to enhance the event.
This exciting new structure will include:
AFRO CULTURE AT AFWL 2019
Provoking and non-conformist, Serge Aimé Coulibaly is transporting us in a world where Fela Kuti, the revolutionary icon that inspired the piece Kalakuta Republik, is displayed in 3D through his musical greatness, his murky and superstitious genius, his enduring creativity pushing off boundaries and his unwavering defiance. Kalakuta Republik offers no escape to facing the crude realities of revolutionary acts : the sublime and the chaos.
Part 1 " Without a story we would go mad" peaks away from codes, from what is predictable into continuous individual movements that take us into a disjointed trance. The dancers are dressed in black and white as if presenting a manichaean view and isolated experience of the world. Yet Serge Coulibaly through his appearances on stage becomes a conductor who connects with the dancers.
In Part 2 « You always need a poet », we are firstly confronted with moral decadence and the absurd. Sexual depravity, drugs, madness punctuate the sounds of jazz-infused Afrobeat. One dancer is hurt, heavyloaded while others are intoxicated, used, hurt, abused. The colours remind us of Fela Kuti’s Shrine which was both a temple and a night club. Yet, the poignant and enduring message of hope and political resistance clearly resonates throughout the piece.
The dancers keep on marching, clenched-fists in the air. And the fight goes on !!!
Kalakuta Republik will show one more night at the Barbican on 1st June and at the Edinburgh International Festival from 8th to 11th August 2019. See links below to book your tickets now.
How impressive!!! Ten men of African and Caribbean descent, embark on a 3 day bike ride London to Paris, led by Captain Adisa Stephen-Ezeocha, with the participation of Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa and Pablo Reid who are the co- founding members of Origin and 7 Origin facilitators and volunteers, departing from London in the early hours of the morning on Friday 31st May to reach Paris on Sunday morning.
continue reading on for more info
In addition to fundraising for the program « Origin », they will also pay tribute to the late American professional cyclist Martial Walter know as « Major » Taylor, who won the sprint event at the 1899 world track championships to become the first African American to achieve the level of cycling world champion and the second black athlete to win a world championship in any sport. He raced in the U.S., Europe and Australasia between 1901 and 1904, beating the world's best riders and competed several times in the « Parc des Princes », Paris. Taylor fought racial prejudice he encountered on and off the track and became a pioneering role model for other athletes facing racial discrimination.
continue reading on for more info
« When the idea of London to Paris on a bike first came-up, I remember thinking... “damn crazy” but what I actually said was “...how about Brighton?” shared Pablo Reid on his Facebook account. Pablo Reid has got many « strings to his bow » and an impressive resume as the founder of British Cultural Archives in Brixton and as co-founder of the project Origin for which the bike ride aims to raise £6,000 and, to this day, has already exceeded its target.
But as Pablo explains « The whole cycling initiative started to become much more than a fundraiser […..] I started to see an opportunity to journey with the ORIGIN men, through a seriously challenging ordeal. Then I saw the question of ‘talking the talk’ or ‘walking the walk’? You know, we often say that we want young people to broaden their horizons and to come out of their comfort zones but how often do we demonstrate this in our own lives? »
And these men have consistently aimed to be a source of inspiration and strength to the younger generation through the Origin Project which came into being in 1999. Last year, for instance, they also succeeded in raising £13,000 against the initial target of £6,000 as they fought in « a white collar boxing » competition for which they trained for 6 months, all for the benefit of the many young men’s lives they are empowering through Origin, a Pan-Afrikan « Rites of Passage » program to take young African and Caribbean boys from childhood into manhood.
continue reading on for more info
As these courageous and connected men engage with the young people as mentors, older brothers, fathers, they create an ecosystem involving parents and communities. The program is holistic and aim to create a nurturing, stimulating and safe environnement where both children and parents feel supported through life challenges. Origin promotes African ancestry and heritage consciousness, identity formation and community belonging. Origin doesn’t want to plug into the whole « Black youth in deficit » narrative but encourages both youth and parents to embrace personal development, explore themselves, their aspirations, lives and roles.
Boys preparing to pass into manhood and below Origin co-founders Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa on the left, Pablo Reid in the middle and Adisa Stephen-Ezeocha on the right
To play your part and support Origin now, click the link below:
To follow their progress and itinerary, suscribe to their blog.
Des afro-descendants parcoureront Londres - Paris en vélo en 3 jours pour une collecte de fonds pour leur association Origin
Au départ de Londres Stockwell vendredi 31 mai 2019, 10 bénévoles de l'association panafricaine 'Origin', qui travaille avec des groupes de jeunes afro-caribéens et leurs parents chaque année pour une préparation à un rite de passage basé sur les traditions africaines afin de guider les adolescents de l'enfance au passage à la vie adulte, parcoureront plus de 300km en vélo jusqu'à Paris, entrainés par leur capitaine Adisa Stephen-Ezeocha.
Pablo Reid et deux autres collègues fondèrent il y a 20 ans Origin, désillusionnés par les contraintes du travail social avec les jeunes, oeuvrant trop souvent en isolation de leurs familles. Le programme permet d'équiper parents et enfants à transcender les barrières mentales et psychologiques dressées par leur propre éducation ou leur environnement et à s'engager positivement à contribuer à l'essor de leurs communautés. Pour ce faire, ils lèvent des fonds chaque année en relevant un défi qui témoigne de leur détermination à s'investir auprès des jeunes et à les inspirer. L'année dernière par exemple, ces hommes se sont entrainés intensivement six mois pour une compétition de boxe "White Collar Boxing" qui consiste à combattre des inconnus sur le ring.
Cette année, ils se sont inspirés du cycliste "Major" Taylor, un coureur cycliste américain qui remporte le championnat du monde professionnel de vitesse à Montréal en 1899 et qui détient sept records du monde en 1899 et fait figure de 1899 à 1904 de cycliste sur piste le plus rapide du monde. Il participera notamment à plusieurs compétitions au Parc des Princes et le groupe "Origin" s'y rendra lorsque les 10 bénévoles arriveront à Paris pour lui rendre hommage.
Continuer à lire ci-dessous
Le groupe "Origin" s'est fixé le montant de £6000 sterling à collecter et a déjà réuni £7,521. Pour les soutenir et les voir de passage à Paris, cliquer les liens ci-dessous: