I’m looking forward to attending the LAGOS BLACK HERITAGE FESTIVAL this week, which this year is mapping out the black African presence in the Mediterranean with a cultural exploration of the Afro-Italian connection.
Nigerian connections with Italy appear to go back a long way! Amongst other things the festival will highlight similarities between the Italian Commedia dell’Arte, and the Yoruba Masked comedy of stereotypes of the egungun (or ancestral masquerade). It will explore the rumour that the character of Arlecchino (Harlequin) was an import from the West African coast in the contemporary working of Goldoni’s play by the Marco Martinelli Afro-Italian theatre group…Similarities between Italian and Nigerian family attitudes will be explored as will xenophobia and colonial memory. Hypothetical questions will be posed, how would Haile Selaise and Ethiopia have fared under Berlusconi? (I dare not imagine)
Anyway, the Colloquium will set up the historical and theoretical framework for such topical issues that engage both societies on screen, stage, art, photography, poetry, cuisine (pounded yam/polenta; kolanut/espresso discourse?), fashion and interior.
I’m especially looking forward to the poetry night on the theme of “Migrations” featuring fifteen Italo-African poets and fifteen poets based in Africa, punctuated by vintage Italian and Nigerian music snatches.