Growing up Ethiopian and German

Posted in Africa, Articles, Autobiography, Europe, Media Archive, United States on 2021-05-24 21:00Z by Steven

Growing up Ethiopian and German

Ethiopian Observer
2021-05-20

Tigist Selam

Born to an Ethiopian mother and a German father, Tigist Selam enjoyed the diverse experience of growing up in Nigeria, Argentina, and foremost Germany. In an article featured in the book “One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race“, Tigist explores the complexities of racial classifications, and the different ways that people live and experience Blackness.

I personally identify as Black racially, Ethiopian, and German/ American culturally. I never say that I’m Black except in a political context because I don’t even know what that means. Like being Black. What is Black culture? Is it African culture? Is it the Caribbean? To me, culture is very specific and I’m multicultural. So, when I identify as Black, I’m making a political statement; I am not trying to simplify my own cultural complexity.

My father was born in 1945. That’s the end of World War II. He still had the swastika in his passport and on his birth certificate. And my mom, she survived Haile Selassie and Mussolini. Both of my parents are very proud to be German, very proud to be Ethiopian, respectively. Very, very strong people identity-wise. But they’re not very sensitive when it comes to race. To them, everybody else is an idiot. And that was really helpful growing up because my mom never backed down. When she didn’t get seated, she would say something or not pay for the meal. My dad took me voting when i was 11. I was forced to watch international news every day. So me and my brother got politicised at a very early age. But it was also the experience of living everywhere-Nigeria for two years, Argentina for three years, Germany ten years, and now America off and on for 10 years…

Read the entire article here.

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Large DNA Study Traces Violent History of American Slavery

Posted in Africa, Articles, Canada, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2020-07-24 03:03Z by Steven

Large DNA Study Traces Violent History of American Slavery

The New York Times
2020-07-23

Christine Kenneally


An 1823 cross-section diagram of a ship used to carry enslaved people. incamerastock/Alamy

Scientists from the consumer genetics company 23andMe have published the largest DNA study to date of people with African ancestry in the Americas.

More than one and a half centuries after the trans-Atlantic slave trade ended, a new study shows how the brutal treatment of enslaved people has shaped the DNA of their descendants.

The report, which included more than 50,000 people, 30,000 of them with African ancestry, agrees with the historical record about where people were taken from in Africa, and where they were enslaved in the Americas. But it also found some surprises.

For example, the DNA of participants from the United States showed a significant amount of Nigerian ancestry — an unexpected finding, as the historical record does not show evidence of enslaved people taken directly to the United States from Nigeria.

At first, historians working with the researchers “couldn’t believe the amount of Nigerian ancestry in the U.S.,” said Steven Micheletti, a population geneticist at 23andMe who led the study…

…The 23andMe project found this general pattern, but also uncovered a startling difference in the experience of men and women between regions in the Americas.

The scientists calculated that enslaved women in the United States contributed 1.5 times more to the modern-day gene pool of people of African descent than enslaved men. In the Latin Caribbean, they contributed 13 times more. In Northern South America, they contributed 17 times more.

What’s more, in the United States, European men contributed three times more to the modern-day gene pool of people of African descent than European women did. In the British Caribbean, they contributed 25 times more…

Read the entire article here.

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Red Dust Road

Posted in Africa, Autobiography, Forthcoming Media, Gay & Lesbian, Live Events, United Kingdom on 2019-08-06 20:50Z by Steven

Red Dust Road

National Theatre of Scotland
2019-08-10 through 2019-09-21


Elaine C. Smith and Sasha Frost

Based on the soul-searching memoir by Scots Makar Jackie Kay, adapted by Tanika Gupta, and directed by Dawn Walton.

“You are made up from a mixture of myth and gene. You are part fable, part porridge

Growing up in 70s’ Scotland as the adopted mixed raced child of a Communist couple, young Jackie blossomed into an outspoken, talented poet. Then she decided to find her birth parents…

From Nairn to Lagos, Red Dust Road takes you on a journey full of heart, humour and deep emotions. Discover how we are shaped by the folk songs we hear as much as by the cells in our bodies.

Opening at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2019, and at HOME, Manchester in September 2019

Touring to Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling and Eden Court Theatre, Inverness in autumn 2019.

For more information, click here.

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Afro-Cuban Diasporas in the Atlantic World

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2019-07-11 20:44Z by Steven

Afro-Cuban Diasporas in the Atlantic World

Boydell & Brewer
July 2010
260 pages
12 black and white illustrations
9×6 in
Paperback ISBN: 9781580464734
Hardback ISBN: 9781580463263
eBook for Handhelds ISBN: 9781580468190
eBook ISBN: 9781580467056

Solimar Otero, Professor of Folklore
Indiana University, Bloomington

A study of the interchange between Cuba and Africa of Yoruban people and culture during the nineteenth century, with special emphasis on the Aguda community.

Afro-Cuban Diasporas in the Atlantic World explores how Yoruba and Afro-Cuban communities moved across the Atlantic between the Americas and Africa in successive waves in the nineteenth century. In Havana, Yoruba slaves from Lagos banded together to buy their freedom and sail home to Nigeria. Once in Lagos, this Cuban repatriate community became known as the Aguda. This community built their own neighborhood that celebrated their Afrolatino heritage. For these Yoruba and Afro-Cuban diasporic populations, nostalgic constructions of family and community play the role of narrating and locating a longed-for home. By providing a link between the workings of nostalgia and the construction of home, this volume re-theorizes cultural imaginaries as a source for diasporic community reinvention. Through ethnographic fieldwork and research in folkloristics, Otero reveals that the Aguda identify strongly with their Afro-Cuban roots in contemporary times. Their fluid identity moves from Yoruba to Cuban, and back again, in a manner that illustrates the truly cyclical nature of transnational Atlantic community affiliation.

Table of Contents

  • Grassroots Africans: Havana’s “Lagosians”
  • Returning to Lagos: Making the Oja Home
  • “Second Diasporas”: Reception in the Bight of Benin
  • Situating Lagosian, Caribbean, and Latin American Diasporas
  • Creating Afrocubanos: Public Cultures in a Circum-Atlantic Perspective
  • Conclusion: Flow, Community, and Diaspora
  • Appendix: Case Studies of Returnees to Lagos from Havana, Cuba
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Chris Abani: Face Value in Brooklyn

Posted in Africa, Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2019-06-19 00:18Z by Steven

Chris Abani: Face Value in Brooklyn

Restless Books
Brooklyn, New York
2014-05-19

attachment-537a688ae4b0e957bf2ed29e

We were thrilled to welcome our friend and contributor Chris Abani to New York this weekend to participate in Lit Crawl NYC. Chris came to discuss his forthcoming contribution to our series, The Face, and to read from his work-in-progress…

…When I tell people that my mother was a white English woman and my father Igbo, they look at me skeptically. It’s a pause that really means; are you sure? You’re so dark. It’s a pause that I’ve heard only in the West. In Nigeria most people know on meeting me that I’m not entirely African. Nigeria has a long history of foreigners coming through—the Portuguese in the 14th century, North Africans as far back as the 12th century, Tuaregs and Fulani to name just a few. In fact in the late 80’s and early 90’s the civil war in Chad caused the very light skinned Chadians to pour into Nigeria as refugees. It was a disturbing sight to see hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of homeless Arab looking people begging for food in the streets and markets. The public outcry was so severe that the military government began a program of forced repatriation. Army trucks rolled into markets and soldiers would round up these refugees an, with no thought of separating families, after all they all looked alike, and drive them back to the border. I once found myself being pushed into one such truck but my fluency in several Nigerian languages saved me. I was often confused for being Lebanese, Indian, Arab, or Fulani. But not in England or America. In these places I am firmly black, of unknown origin…

Read the entire article here.

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Blackass: A Novel

Posted in Africa, Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing on 2016-04-03 20:21Z by Steven

Blackass: A Novel

Graywolf Press
2016-03-01
272 pages
5.5 x 8.25
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-55597-733-7

A. Igoni Barrett

Furo Wariboko, a young Nigerian, awakes the morning before a job interview to find that he’s been transformed into a white man. In this condition he plunges into the bustle of Lagos to make his fortune. With his red hair, green eyes, and pale skin, it seems he’s been completely changed. Well, almost. There is the matter of his family, his accent, his name. Oh, and his black ass. Furo must quickly learn to navigate a world made unfamiliar, and deal with those who would use him for their own purposes. Taken in by a young woman called Syreeta and pursued by a writer named Igoni, Furo lands his first-ever job, adopts a new name, and soon finds himself evolving in unanticipated ways.

A. Igoni Barrett’s Blackass is a fierce comic satire that touches on everything from race to social media while at the same time questioning the values society places on us, simply by virtue of the way we look. As he did in Love Is Power, or Something Like That, Barrett brilliantly depicts life in contemporary Nigeria, and details the double-dealing and code-switching that is implicit in everyday business. But it’s Furo’s search for an identity—one deeper than skin—that leads to the final unraveling of his own carefully constructed story.

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The Face of Skin, Inc.: An Interview with Chinyere Evelyn Uku by Thomas Sayers Ellis

Posted in Africa, Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive on 2015-01-22 15:48Z by Steven

The Face of Skin, Inc.: An Interview with Chinyere Evelyn Uku by Thomas Sayers Ellis

Graywolf Press
August 2013

The cover image of Thomas Sayers Ellis’s Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems features Ellis’s own black-and-white photograph of Chinyere Evelyn Uku, an African woman from Nigeria who has albinism. On the release of the paperback edition of Skin, Inc., Ellis conducted an interview with Uku about her life, identity, race, and image. This is an excerpt.

Thomas Sayers Ellis: Where were you born and raised? Tell us about your childhood and schooling. Did you grow up in a quiet household or a lively, loud one?

Chinyere Evelyn Uku: I was born in one of the most vibrant yet monumentally confusing places in the world: Lagos, Nigeria. I was born to parents who were very middle class, and we lived in an apartment building in bustling Victoria Island. I was very unaware of my condition, having no real understanding of albinism or any awareness of it. It did not prevent me from watching Muppet Babies so there was no cause for concern. My parents did not put any signs or signals in our home to alert me to the situation, so one can say I was exonerated at that age. I would wake up in the morning, see a cream-colored character, and proceed with my day of larking about and pretending to be productive and doing whatever I had to do to secure my parents’ approval. Life was good. School was also fair, starting with an elementary school of mixed-race children—Indians, Caucasians, Blacks—so then my lack of understanding of the implication of race was further de-emphasized…

TSE: Has anyone, unfamiliar with your condition, ever mistaken you for white? Have you ever been forced to use “A Color” to refer to yourself or your identity?

CEU: On my childhood passport, my eyes and hair are listed as brown, and I remember thinking that they should take into consideration the fact that some people do not quite fit this description of black, brown, or blonde. I have been mistaken for white before. Typically at metro entrances or crowded places depending on the demographic. Most blacks or African Americans can typically identify that I am black or mixed race and feel drawn to me, and the twisted hair and braiding hairstyles I sport from time to time also helps them out. White people in general are initially perplexed and will not stare for more than a few minutes lest they are accused of staring and called rude or politically incorrect or something else they don’t like. They prefer to keep all comments to themselves and avert their eyes to avoid confrontation. You can imagine how shocked I was when someone came out and asked what the hell I was. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but are you Asian, biracial, or some kind of albino?” I laughed and told him what the hell I was, then he laughed too, and we went for ice cream and to see a foreign movie. He paid. I prefer the direct approach, but don’t make it a habit, or I might pop someone in the face. A couple of guys, rather loudly, were trying to determine what I was and yelled out, “No, that’s just a white girl with dreads!” Well, I have no intention of fixing the situation! Blame it all on Mother Nature…

Read the entire interview here.

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Big interview – Jayne Olorunda on racism still needing to be tackled in NI

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-11-30 18:20Z by Steven

Big interview – Jayne Olorunda on racism still needing to be tackled in NI

The Stephen Nolan Radio Show
BBC Radio Ulster
2014-09-05

Stephen Noland, Host

Jayne Olorunda was just 2 years old when her Nigerian born father Max was killed by an IRA bomb that was being transported on a train he was travelling on. Jayne has written a book about her experiences growing up here. “Legacy” explores her own mother’s childhood in Strabane, and the prejudices she experienced when she married Jayne’s dad.

It also looks at Jayne’s own personal battle with an eating disorder and the racism she has encountered growing up in Northern Ireland. Jayne began by telling us how her parents met.

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Two Cities: Guangzhou/Lagos

Posted in Africa, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Economics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2013-08-19 04:34Z by Steven

Two Cities: Guangzhou/Lagos

Nokoko
Institute of African Studies
Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
Volume 2 (Fall 2011)
pages 174-197

Wendy Thompson Taiwo, Assistant Professor of African American Studies
San José State University, San Jose, California

Nokoko 2 - Cover

I was in Nigeria in May, the year I turned twenty-nine. And aside from the few hours of electricity per day, the way most of the food twisted my stomach or burned my tongue, and that the terrible stifling heat made life difficult at times, I was excited to be exactly where I needed to be: Lagos. Once the political center of Nigeria, it is still reigning as the financial and economic capital. And from what I saw, it was a thriving, bustling, chaotic metropolis where swindling police officers, savvy market women, racing okadas, and the occasional goat shared the streets with everyday Lagosians.

I was pursuing the second leg of a research project devoted to examining the everyday lives of Yoruba traders I had met in Guangzhou. In 2009, a series of news reports shifted focus to a sizable West African trading community in southeastern China following a protest by an approximated two hundred African men in front of a police station that drew a crowd and shut down traffic. The protest was in response to earlier events in which an immigration raid staged by Chinese police in a clothing mall frequented primarily by Nigerian traders led to at least two reported injuries, one critical…

…I had so many questions and saw this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to sort out some of the anxieties I had about race, borders, and the bodies of my parents—one black and one Chinese. I assumed that many African traders would have had to interpret and negotiate these same themes and embarked on my journey to encounter these new global citizens…

Read the entire article here.

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Also by Mail

Posted in Africa, Books, Europe, Media Archive, Novels on 2013-04-24 02:45Z by Steven

Also by Mail

Edition Assemblage: Begleiterscheinungen emanzipatorischer Theorie und Praxis
2013-02-20
96 pages
Paperback, 142×205 mm
ISBN 978-3-942885-38-6
Series: Witnessed Edition 2

Olumide Popoola

Also by Mail is a modern family comedy-drama that follows the experiences of Nigerian German siblings Funke and Wale who fly to Nigeria to bury their suddenly deceased father. Their upbringing clashes with their uncle’s expectations and initial misunderstandings soon come to an éclat. When Wale returns to Germany, frustrated, he is bitterly reminded of how little his father acknowledged and prepared them for racist encounters there.

Loss and racism, sibling rivalry and cross-cultural etiquette, the play incorporates and subverses it’s urban, neo-African elements of story-telling to give a contemporary picture of a family that struggles not only with the legacy of its patriarch but with being racialized within the German context as well. Where does each stand in a circle of relations and needs? Where does each want to end up? And who is willing to help? It takes an inside-outside job to lighten the mood and the surprise startles them all.

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