Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Truth first, Race second

For a start, what is truth? A brief research led me to no answers. For centuries, scholars and philosophers cannot agree to the definition of truth. But some of the variations are subjective, relative, objective or absolute.

I prefer to see truth ultimately as absolute, anything else is a variation and should therefore have a warning.
Why do I speak of truth? No, I am not a christian fundamentalist proclaiming the truth the way and the light. (although not entirely a bad idea)

I just came to a realization of my own culture's obsession with truth, even when it obviously hasn't worked very well for them.

My tribe is one of about 50 in a small East African country and is stereotyped as valuing truth even if this means hindering their own progress (especially in politics).

Mine is an immigrant group that has been in the region for less than 3 centuries. This tradition was further strengthened by the coming of Christianity mainly Catholicism whose ideology was very compatible with the local beliefs.

A dishonest person is castigated and marked as evil and known to all and despised. This person could be what in America would be termed as an industrious or shrewd business person. These are qualities that are traditionally frowned upon. As the overall economy grows people not fitting the mold tend to integrate into the bigger tribes were the 'behavior' is not a problem and is indeed progressive. But among traditionalists this truth virtue is still exercised.

A part of me still looks to this ideal, although of late I call myself a realist, but the search for truth never ends.
In the West, truth is the domain of empirical scientists ( who too BTW are corrupted by prejudicial forces). All other areas have their own variations of truth. To follow my traditional ideal here is tantamount to being suicidal.

Which brings me to many IR discussions I have been involved for the past few months. In America, race rules. Any opinions one forms or shares are highly influenced by one's racial make up consciously or subconsciously which dictates one's life experience.

So as a truth seeker whose life experience has not been shaped by my racial make up, I am not popular to those whose life has been formed by their racial make up and this is a potential source of great conflict. When I get into a discussion or debate, I am first and foremost interested in the issues being communicated, not the race from which they come. And then my process of analysis starts from there. Race is an issue when the issue is about race or is obviously being biased by the speaker's racial makeup.

I have had many subtle or not subtle accusations of being a 'cooer' and defender of WM. And lacking full knowledge of AA issues and therefore ought not to comment on them.

However if you asked the same WM they will tell you how unforgiving some of my criticisms of them are. Some will even call me a racist. So in this game, one can't win. I like to see things in their realistic even brutal state regardless of what my own race will think of me.

I prefer to call myself an equal opportunity critic and have successfully clashed with people of all races and backgrounds even with my fellow Africans and wouldn't hesitate for a second to clash with a tribes mate (this BTW is considered honorable as long as truth is adhered to).
Unfortunately for those whose life experience is different, such disagreements are perceived as an attack on their person or race. Will I stop disagreeing to appease? Now that's not possible. Its cowardice, which is a seriously despised attribute again in my culture. A coward is referred to as "nothing". You don't stab someone in the back, you do it through the front.

Does that mean I am not loyal to my race? Hardly! Truth first, then race second.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Uganda Dance : Abakyla na Abami

Uganda Dance : Abakyla na Abami

Kiganda Dance.

I am fascinated by African dances. My own not being very excting (wreckless jumping with the ultimate aim being to crack a concrete floor) I love to watch the other tribes that have more advanced styles of dance and choreography.

The Kiganda dance is by far the most difficult one that I know. The idea is to move your waist independently from the rest of the body then the other parts are supposed to fall in sync. All the while, you should be mostly on your toes. It is very exhausting, even watching it. But it is a good work out. There are different variations of it depending on occassion. The most honored one is that performed for the king. It is incredible to watch.

This particular artist sings in fork tradional style with traditonal instruments. Nothing Western. Her themes are mainly about Marriage and social graces according to Kiganda tradition. You can tell alot about the tribe by what she says. The visuals give a good idea.


Time for Meme!

I was tagged by Miriam so without (any more) further ado, here's my meme:

The rules of the game are:

A). Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog...

B). Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself...

C). Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs...

D). Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

7 Random /weird facts about me:

1. I have no clear cultural identity. My people assimilated into a larger tribe. I found out about my roots after the Rwanda genocide and have since been on an identity search.

2. I was first held at gun point at 4 years of age. I was looting the Russian embassy during a civil war. Many more countless times after that. At the same age I was put in jail with my mum.( I hadn't done anything this time!)

3. I played on the school soccer team.

4. I played junior tennis tournaments.

5. Swahili was my first language to learn, then lost it to learn others.

6. I slaughtered the chickens for the family when there was no male to do it.

7. I was kicked out of my chemistry class for the last two years of my secondary school for breaking a lab apparatus set up that I could not afford to replace.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Rwanda Traditional Dance


Though this subject has been beaten about on many blogs, I naturally cannot miss out writing about it.
It appears that there is growing tensions among blacks based on geographic origins, Africans, Caribbeans and African Americans. Each group accuses the other of assumed superiority. African Americans (AAs) in particular are agitated by the attitude displayed by the foreign blacks who they believe treat them no differently than the other races that historically discriminated against AAs.
The other blacks too are accused of buying into the stereotypes of AAs and using those to "look down" on them.

Rightly, AAs believe that these other blacks should not forget that the way has been paved for them by the sacrifices they have made through history. So the debate or argument, if you please, is raging with both sides telling the other how they should behave.
Popular sentiment among black immigrants is that AAs don't have any more excuses not to own part of the American dream, since themselves come to America with little and manage to "make it".

Personally I go against this popular immigrant sentiment, firstly because immigrants don't seem to put into proper perspective the contributions of AAs to America and the world at large. If they did, they would simply join the struggle.
The person usually talking is one that has come form either, a well to do family whereby their way has been carefully paved for them or they come from abject poverty, the kind that makes the ghetto look like the hills and are therefore ultra motivated to 'make it'. All these advantages are subsidized by a healthy psychological state of mind, which for the black person means simply a lack of knowledge of racism. With which comes the benefit of never 'seeing' another race as better than them.

A first time traditionally bred African traveller to the West will always be shocked that the color of their skin can be a problem. It takes one a very long time to get the reality. That is why some Africans tend to be naive on matters regarding racism. They don't understand it to the extent the AAs do and so don't see why that can be a hindrance to progress.
On the other hand you have people like me that were too quick to grasp the dynamics. Why do you wonder, do some immigrants see it while others don't?
I would guess it has to do with one's own indigenous culture and personality i.e. the ability not to shy away from confrontation.

As far as cultures are concerned, there are many African cultures that tend to be conformist. Same way you have, for example Asians in the US or other groups that don't appear to be overtly vocal on Civil rights issues. These types of Africans will not rock the boat, they will simply work around the system and always appear agreeable making them popular with employers. You then have others that are more confrontational. I happen to belong to one. To the American employer, I am a nightmare, because I am hired on the premise that I am African and therefore 'docile' not like the AA. Problem is my culture being quite the dominant type, I can spot the dynamics of discrimination pretty quick and I am on top of them.

My experience with employers has been simply this, I am hired as an African and favored over the AA, however, the moment I am in, they want to treat me the same way they treated the AA pre civil rights and I am supposed to accept it. Many Africans go through this and some don't even see it.

As far as the debates on which cultures are more superior, it is laughable. No one knows exactly how many ethnic groups exist among blacks. In Africa, they are estimated to be around 4000. Some are probably not known yet, and they are full fledged cultures with languages , traditions and philosophies. So who is better than who?

Simply put in my humble opinion, blacks in the world are so interdependent. There would be no AAs without Africa and there would be no progress for Africans or Caribbeans with out AAs.
And unfortunately for all of us we will always be bound by racism despite our "superior differences".

Friday, November 9, 2007

Finally I get my own blog

After being a parasite on other blogs, I have decided to set my self up and put my thoughts in electronic media. I am particularly grateful to C-1's blog for the medium of expression that it serves. (Some of those encountered there are probably pulling the sycophant card!).
After long deliberation I have decided that some of my thoughts are best expressed on my own blog which will be a relief to many who had to put up with my often off topic comments.
Why do I choose to blog? Because it is better than a paper diary. One has interaction with other people regrading their own private thoughts. And what can beat that? Instead of one entertaining their own point of view, they throw it out there and get varying feed back. (Though some of it is definitely not appreciated).

My favorite pass time is thinking and exploring cross cultural differences. I am stimulated by insightful commentary especially from a different cultural back ground and human experience. Because of this interest I am most likely to be identified as a pacifist or sycophant to those deemed more superior. Of course this comes from those with a different experience from mine and from them too I find a lot of wisdom.

Speaking of superiority. This is another great fascination of mine, the constant need for humans to assume their superiority over the next person or group. I know this too well, my own people applied this concept that eventually led to the Rwanda genocide.
I am not from Rwanda, thankfully (or not) but my ancestors were and thanks to the artificial colonial boundaries the border crossed my tribe and we ended up on the British side.

I grew up in Africa, not the Africa most western minds imagine, but some elements of the images do apply. I would compare the western image of Africa and the actual reality as a man who claims to wholly understand women. Even those that have lived there for lengthy periods of up to 30 years(And I have known a few) still don't get it. Even those that have been born there and are generations into Africa like White South Africans, still don't get it fully although they are definitely closer than the Western Mindset.
I recently read a review of the D'Souza's 'White Man' and the reviewer said the most profound and truthful statement I have known from a Western Author . He said something to the effect that it is an unknowable continent with unknowable people. Even I can't pretend to know all of Africa, and least of all my region located in the great lakes area. but I know one thing for sure, Africans (Sub Saharan) have different mind sets from the rest of the world which cannot be explained (though some scientist would like to think that they can).

Anyway, what will be the focus of my blog and why the title Black-African-Women? Its obvious I am the latter and that gives me a special and unfavourable position in America. But also it gives me a rare point of view that is unseen/unheard and will often be misunderstood.
Also I started my blogging hobby as an admirer of WM. I have recently come to accept my strong attraction to WM. It has always been that way. There is no particular 'excuse' for me. I grew up in a predominantly black environment till my late teens. I was never particularly attracted to BM and there is no shortage of BM for me. It just was and just is.

With all the racial history it is a 'condition' I am not comfortable with. But since my nature seems to be inclined that way, I have accepted it and seek better understanding of myself and those I find myself attracted to.

So all are welcome to interact in sharing your experiences and questioning my assumptions and often concocted theories.
To those that feel the need to offend, you might want to consider taking your opinions to forums where they really care. Otherwise you are welcome too.