Children from my Village have Arrived.
Monday, December 31, 2007
HALF TIME BREAK
Alright time for entertainment. I seem to have more luck with traditional dances from Rwanda than Uganda or Kenya. Soon I will resort to the more modern performances from the Congo which are not entirely bad but have a very strong western influence thus removing their authenticity. But their music industry is booming as a result so I won't hate on them.
So Rwanda again it will be. I love all the dancers from Rwanda, whether courtship or war dances they are all very well choreographed and beautiful.
The dance movements are mostly inspired by the movement of their cattle that they love very much. Traditionally the Kings' cattle were never eaten and when they died they were given burial honors. This is one of the cultural traits that archeologists found as a possible link to ancient Egyptians who did the exact same thing.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The battle between native blacks and foreign blacks has been raging in blog-sphere and it has been disturbingly enlightening.
Firstly, before coming to America I had heard a little bit about the resentment of Africans by AAs though where I am from AAs are revered for their resilience and survival of a treacherous system.
When I first arrived, I met some Africans in New York who lived in black neighborhoods and spoke of living in fear of being attacked. I recently recalled an incident while in DC on a short course on my first visit to America, a BW guide of the class snapped at me for asking a question regarding a discrepancy in the payments I had to make. The same woman had been extremely courteous to the Russian students that asked the same question. I assumed she was having a bad day. However now that there is more evidence of tensions, I am beginning to wonder about such incidents, and they are not few.
When I ask my AA friends about such incidents, they actually acknowledge that there is a resentment towards Africans and also blame self hatred and the need for one to not want anything to do with being considered African.
There is evidence of this in AA entertainment movies and comedy routines. Some of which I am posting.
The big question to the African American is, if you resent Africans and Africa-ness, why maintain the title African Americans? And when I eventually become American , will you be offended if I call myself an African American? I heard one AA say that we become American Africans while another one suggested that we become African (Squared) American!
It is a pity that the situation is the way it is. I had to stop posting at a certain blog because the negativity was escalating to an uncontrollable level. And God knows I love my serenity and sanity. The level of hatred I sometimes felt from fellow posters was not any different what one would experience from a white supremist group.
I always felt we had the same struggle as black people. Every non black society in the world looks at us as inferior. Different societies apply this concept differently. I see America as the front line of the civil rights struggle whose effects get rippled through out the world. But what purpose is the struggle if members of the same oppressed group are ready to abuse the rights of those with in the same group given the opportunity. Is the Civil Rights struggle still relevant?
In other words why should I fight along side you when you are going to abuse me through your media and also malign me in the work environment because after all you have ‘ownership’ of the struggle?
As an African that has encountered some unheard of racism in this day an age, I have had more support by a few white people, a lot more than AAs that were in a position to be supportive. So then I wonder, if I am to fight for my rights in this country, is it wise to expect support from AAs or should I be open to well meaning people of any race?
I see racism today as a system with a life of is own in which some of the old methods of tackling it are not effective.
The key difference between AAs and Africans is that we do see our skin color differently. Black skin color for a traditional African is not associated as a burden. It just is.
So when I hear an AAs say, “Africans should accept their blackness” what they mean is that we should acquire the burdens of blackness as prescribed by American society.
Sorry to disappoint you, but, No thank you. Just because the rest of the world sees blackness as an ailment, does not mean that we should see it that way. Anyone that thinks that way is free to do so.
So until some AAs accept this basic difference in seeing black, there will always be tensions. And just because Africans do not see blackness that way does not mean that they forget they are black. I know for sure many of us stick to our traditions, the exception is those Africans that stay and raise their children here, even then the culture never completely dies.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Back to the subject at hand. We do not have the concept of best friendship. If someone is so close, the tradition is that they become part of the family. There are ceremonial rituals to tie the bond that then turns the relationship into a brotherhood/sisterhood and you become part of each other’s families. One very common one is the dipping of a coffee bean into an open cut in one’s arm and then exchanging the beans with your ‘sister’/’brother’ who dips it in theirs. (This practice is less common now because of AIDS after a lot of infections took place this way).
In America it seems like a requirement to have a best friend. I was surprised to discover that people were even possessive of their friends. The idea is, ‘if you are my best friend, I can not share you with someone else’ Ha!
Growing up, such friendships were discouraged. I have come up with a hypothesis as to why these two worlds view friendship differently. Traditional African societies are more communal and so there is less individualism. When individuals start bonding in exclusive friendships this threatens the community. They think of them as forming little clicks or gangs that are up to no good. On the other hand in the Western world where its every man for himself there is need for friendship in order for one to exist in a healthy state.
However my experiences with making friends out here have been met with disappointment. And this is mainly due to cultural differences.
My first good female friend in America was of Norwegian origin though she grew up in East Africa and therefore we had that in common to begin with. Now this is were racial matters become tricky. I grew up with out knowledge of racism. So it came as quite a shock on arrival in the Western World. This friend of mine grew up the same way although being a white person in Kenya, she was very aware of her skin privilege.
We never had any racial issues at first but being to long in America does get to you in various ways I guess. In appearance, she went beyond the American standard of beauty. She could have been a model.
Personally I am never taken up by people’s appearances. Even in my native country where women are advised not to be good friends with beautiful women, I went against that rule. The most beautiful girls were always my friends. I appreciated their beauty as long as they did not get conceited or misused it.
My Norwegian friend had that African value of not taking her beauty seriously but being in LA took its toll on her personality. She also started noticing her skin privilege and before long I became the African friend and later on the mammy. We got special treatment where ever we went, the same places that would treat me suspiciously when I was by my self.
I don’t completely blame her change on the new society because I am not that familiar with Norwegian culture as it relates to blacks. Naturally I was disgusted and started distancing myself. She had become so comfortable in her princess role and expected me to be around to pick up after her. I felt used and abused. The last straw was when she dropped the N word when she saw some AA kids. That was it, end of friendship.
I recently met a wonderful AA single mum female of my age. We met in one of my classes and we became study mates. Very nice person with out any of the negative stereotypes associated with black women (and I do carry some). We worked together through the class and have mutual respect for each other. For once I knew I had met someone I could call a friend. This friendship too has met with its own challenge, which is our own personal outlook on how to over come those things that are meant to keep us down ie the system
Now I came to America all the way from my village so I could get a better life for me and my children (biological or not). Right now, I don’t care for obstacles, whether systematic or those with in my own head. There are children I know that will be better off once I survive and succeed in getting part of the American dream. In other words, being in America is not about me. Its about a community of people I care about deeply.
Back to my friend, this person started off strong in the math class, but when her first failure popped up, she never recovered despite the fact that she was very capable. I know this for a fact because we studied together and a lot of what I applied in our math tests were her own corrections of my errors. In the end I got the better grade, not because I am smarter than her but because I am more focused on what it is I want and not paying attention to the naysayers and believe me I could fill a country with them. I told her that she needs most of all to work on her confidence and kill some girly dreams like marrying a rich man. At the end of the semester her confidence was so battered that I feel she has given up. Now this is the tricky part, I have often heard that one should surround them selves with people that can make them better. I now believe that advice. My Norwegian friend was an airhead and was sucking the life out of me. The last thing I need is someone with enormous insecurities that I have to continuously emotionally support despite the fact that they have millions of opportunities staring at them yet are still reluctant to see them. That puts me in a disadvantaged position once again and though I like this woman, I am not going to play the enabler to her self destructive ways.
And once again I am left wondering if friendship the Western way is possible for me and if all these people calling themselves BFFs are genuine friends.