The million dollar question isn’t it? It’s probably been at some point if the journey that is your life has landed you thousands of miles away from the place you call home. The question seems to be du jour among Africans young and old living in the US and Europe. Many of us have left our homeland for various reasons, education and voluntary emigration being the most common (just a guess, calm down). Whatever your reasons or circumstances for leaving, I’m pretty sure you’ve contemplated after a while living permanently in the West (if it wasn’t your initial intent to begin with). Sure you can give me a myriad of reasons why life in the West is preferable to life home but amid some positive changes that are taking place throughout Africa, I believe we must consider the possibility of going back to make our contribution. For too long I’ve been hearing from people and reading around the African blogosphere criticism of African countries, their leaders and what have you. Those are the same people who have been Read the rest of this entry »
To all African sirens out there, starting today I’m running a fun contest that I dubbed African Beauty au Naturel. The contest will reward its winner the following gift cards: $25 Itunes, $25 Target and $25 Best Buy. As its name implies, the object of the contest is to crown the most beautiful African girl without make-up or artificial apparatus, yes totally “au naturel”, no cheating!! To participate, just send a couple of your most enchanting photos to the following email address along with a short bio of yourself (ie. name, where from, etc.): email@example.com (just remove the last m) . The winner will be announced here next week Wednesday. Although the contest is open to all, keep in mind that you can only use the gift cards in the US of A :-(. Bonne chance to all and thank you for participating!
It is also in the spirit of beauty that I offer this video of Nigerian artist 2 Face, in this popular song rightfully called “African Queen”. Good week-end to all!!!
Photo source: http://www.theportraitpainter.com
I’m starting this week a new rubric called Video of the Week where I’ll share with you my musical “coup de coeurs”, past as well as present. Today’s feature will be a video of the France based Congolese (Brazzaville) rap collective known as Bisso Na Bisso (meaning ‘between us’ in Lingala). The video is a parody of African government leaders concern with stuffing their pockets during their tenure rather the welfare of the people who put them in office. Bisso Na Bisso was banned from performing in their native country of Congo upon release of “Racines” (roots) their debut album in 1999. The title of the song (dans la peau d’un chef) can be translated as ‘in the shoes of an elected or appointed official’. And oh the song is in French 😉
So you’ve heard the buzz about the Vanity Fair July 07 issue about Africa guest edited by Bono, and you’ve seen the many covers of the issue graced by those celebrities most invested in the African cause. Fine, but were you curious enough to get a copy? I know I did and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Surprised because I don’t recall when I last purchased or even read Vanity Fair (is that bad :-/), therefore I didn’t know what to expect. So I grabbed the one featuring Don Cheadle and Iman (which I dubbed “The Don & The Diva” ) a couple of days ago at Virgin in Union Square. I noticed that there many more copies still available of the one with Brad Pitt and Archbishop Desmond Tutu compared to the other ones. In any case, the articles are very informative and discuss a lot of the issues affecting the African continent (HIV/AIDS, government corruption, Darfur etc.) as well as the positives (Literature, artists, rising personalities etc.), all of it presented with a lot of optimism and hope. Some of the pieces in the magazine also feature the work of African journalists which I thought was a nice touch. My favorite article written by a Sebastian Junger was about the involvement of China (purely for economic interest it seems) in Africa (their indirect involvement in Darfur by selling weapons to the Sudanese government in return for oil among other things), mind blowing that one. I urge each and everyone with an interest in ‘all things African’ to get their hands on one!
One not so absurd idea has been lingering in my mind for some time now, and it’s that of a once-in-a lifetime pilgrimage to Africa for all persons of African descent. I believe this would be a great opportunity for all to acknowledge their roots. Even hip-hop superstar Jay-Z – who visited the continent last year during his Water for Life Tour – was quoted as saying that “you have to go and understand what’s going on and embrace your people”. A pilgrimage would also be beneficial in that it could help see things in perspective and familiarize the pilgrims to the realities of Africa. You’ll agree with me that most Americans know very little about the Africa (no wonder it’s called the forgotten continent), fine but see, that ignorance is kind of hurtful coming from a Black American. I suppose being of the same skin color and all, lots of us Africans make the mistake of assuming that we share the same connection to the Motherland, but the truth is we do not always. I’ve had my share of silly questions as I am sure you did also (by the way we find that stuff on National Geographic equally f@%#ing amazing as did you! I mean I never knew there were so many pygmies running around the bushes in DR Congo for instance:-D). I suppose it’s like Bob Marley said “If you knew your history, you would know where you’re coming from” (from the song Buffalo Soldiers), and what’s better than a trip Home for a refresher course of history. It will be entirely a personal decision to do this but I hope that one day Black Americans (anybody of African descent really) see this once-in-a lifetime trip with the same religious importance that Muslims or Christians accord to the pilgrimage in their Holy Lands. I can’t wait to see some Black activist pushing this idea;-D.
Photo source: Africaspeaks.com
It’s funny how things go down isn’t it? You’d been longing to come to the States so badly, to the point of resenting everything about Africa. You know, “man this place is hopeless”, “this place is not safe”, “there’s no future here” and the list of complaints goes on. But once you did get out and you were in the comfort of your parents’ brownstone (ok, more like a 10×10 studio apt, who are you kidding?) you started realizing how much you missed the little things you always took for granted. I’m sure you’ve heard of how people in the big city are colder than back home (wherever that is), that’s right nobody gives a shit in New York lol! I’ve seen a couple of times dudes get beat up in broad day light with by passers minding their biz, the second time (silly argument that escalated between a white and a black dude on the ‘A’ train) I felt compelled to intervene and stop a homicide that was about to take place in front of about 50 witnesses! In any case, let’s get back to my point about the things you start missing once you left the continent.
In my case, it was – interestingly enough – the music that I missed most. Congolese music (soukouss, rumba etc.) never particularly tickled my fancy until that point, as I was more concerned with knowing the identity of the 5 mics recipient in the next issue of The Source magazine. Well, for some reason I started buying soukouss CDs and DVDs (still courtesy of my bootleg agent in Harlem:-D), I even went with my girlfriend to a Koffi Olomide concert in 2001 for Christ sake lol. I started realizing that I was now into things that had never caught my attention when I was still in Africa and that I secretly loved I suppose. Today I might go out to Webster Hall, Jay-Z’s 40/40 etc. but my first choice would always be an African venue, be it a restaurant or a club. I mean damn, don’t you just love them African parties!!!!? ;-D