Engaging the Diaspora, Afropolitans and Africa

I’m glad that I’m a young African woman now rather than in the 60s. Yet watching this clip of Angela Davis and discussing it on my FB page this week made me miss those rebellious and more importantly, revolutionary, times.
By the way, the reason for this preference is of dual nature. I am African and I am female, two tricks that life played on me. Disagree if you must, but to me it’s stretching the truth to claim that Africans, or women, have equality in 2011.  Many doors have opened so do kindly take the comment about ‘tricks’ with a grain of salt. If at deathbed, I was given the choice to come back to a bittersweet existence like this or to an oft-blinding privilege that comes with being white and/or male I would not hesitate for a moment to request the former.

Nevertheless, there are aspects of the era of the civil right’s movement that could do with a revival.
One of those is the cultural and political exchange that took place between African diasporans and those at home. Let’s recall that pan-Africanism started in the diaspora, in the Caribbean to be precise. It traveled to the west and eventually rocked the cradle of its conscious thought, Africa. In Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana, in Miriam Makeba’s South Africa, in Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenya and Sankara’s Burkina Faso. Nkrumah was influenced by Africans in the diaspora such as George Padmore, Makeba’s message was strengthened by diasporic alliances such as with Stokely Carmichael (whom she also married). Fela’s legacy is tied to Sandra Izsadore who introduced him to James Brown and so on.

These transnational exchanges were not a byproduct of change; they were the reason behind it.
Connecting Africa with the diaspora during the civil right’s era brought forth important events like Fesman 66 in Senegal and Festac 77 in Nigeria. An offspring of these black culture festivals took place last year and was a bit of a fiasco, perhaps telling of the lack of a collaborative platform like pan-Africanism in contemporary times.

In 2011, Africa’s prospects are the most upbeat since the efforts of pan-African leaders were hastily subdued by the powers that be. High economic growth is attracting foreign investment throughout the continent and despite the ongoing challenge of tackling disparity across the continent, there is reason to predict an African renaissance.
Like any renaissance, the African one is doing wonders in exposing the cultural world of Africa; the music, fashion, spirituality, art, literature and avant-garde architecture. We should indulge in such cultural offering without forgetting that the renaissance must ultimately carry the spirit of empowerment and justice.

Returning to the writings on Afropolitan subculture last week, I think that Afropolitanism and similar platforms will mark a revitalization of political and cultural exchange between those of us back home and those in the diaspora. History implies that it would be an error not to do so.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, rather we have to learn from our predecessors to make it roll faster. With women increasingly also driving the motor this time around, I am convinced that it will.

What are your thoughts? Is the diaspora as connected to Africa as it needs to be?

  • http://www.ankhesen-mie.net Ankhesen

    this week made me miss those rebellious and more importantly, revolutionary, times.

    I know what you mean. Lately, I’ve found myself tearing my hair out how less willing we’ve become to do the heavy lifting, or to evoke anyone else’s ire. It’s as though many of us have gotten scared all over again. We’ve lost our rebellious spark, and I feel we’ve reverted to aiming for scraps rather than claiming the house.

    • MsAfropolitan

      Oh no! What infuriating ignorance in that clip

      Yes sis, we’re living in times of conformity it seems. The media spoonfeeds the idea that society is postracial and postfeminist and all these other lies, so why should anyone complain?

      Thanks for parking some of your thoughts here in my cyberhome.

  • http://www.mwanabaafrika.blogspot.com/ MBA

    You know Kanye West just signed D’Banj and Don Jazzy to his GOOD label?! Cultural exchange is starting to happen because we Africans are demanding it and are producing things that cannot be denied to be worth sharing. I think we are going through our own 60s in the new millennium and I am excited to be a part of it.

    Afropolitans, be it people who have physical experience through travel and living abroad or those who have stayed on the continent but are in tune with the global heartbeat are fighting. I see it all around me in the people I have been meeting in Zambia, a place that I have always seen as conservative and not willing to put itself out there. So if it is happening here it must be happening elsewhere on the continent. We are at that point when the rain comes and it pitter-patters just before the big downpour. Let us not let some wind push the clouds away before we rain down on the world and have our seeds grow :)

  • POTO

    These are just some verses I thought were cool. What am I? I am a mirror, a spectator to peoples egoism. Even as I watch others, display themselves vainly using every ounce of talent, I can only observe the finery of those, wishing I could be like them, knowing it is forever out of my reach.
    What am I? I am a snowflake, falling silently to earth. One in a million or a billion more. yet I am different from all the others. From the time that I was born, I have had my own pattern, set my own ways.
    What am I? A mockingbird, picking up anothers song in an effort to make a new friend.
    What am I? I am a window mannequin. People are not interested in the real me, but in what I look like or seem to be. In me they see an image or themselves or another.
    I become a coat which protects my internal organs from the cold.
    I become the seed of a tree. I slowly emerge from my outer shell to start the gradual process of growing. I work my way slowly up to my life giving source, the sun. Always growing, never ceasing I grow onward toward the limitless beauty of the vast expanse of the sky.
    And there’s a film called, Fresh. Kind of illustrates how one kid from the ‘diaspora’ overcomes adversity. He goes through a whole lot!

  • http://www.ashy2classy.net Diggame

    I think we need to take the African Diaspora even further and have a higher connection of those of African decent in the states, Canada and even in Latin America

  • http://www.karimalo.com ary

    Hi Mouna,

    i have just discovered your blog and i must say that it is very interesting. I have a site dedicated to african music, cinema,fashion and art, Karimalo. My slogan is “wlcome to the other Africa” and i do believe that with great connections we can make it happen! My goal is to present an active, a postitive and a refreshing side of Africa to my readers! Feel free to visit it! I am definitely going to follow your blog!



  • http://www.mukaintu.blogspot.de Twaambo

    We can do better.The hard part is marrying a strong fierce independent African woman in the Diaspora and a woman in Africa that sees her only hope on a better life tied to the wrong things and not to the fact that she matters just because she is alive.
    Unfortunately there is a gap,but not one that we cannot reach across.
    Even by sites like this we can come up with ideas to get evenmore connected!
    Thank you!

    • MsAfropolitan

      Thank YOU!