Afropeans are coming…

If you happen to be in Brussels this Saturday, please be sure to check out the Afropeans + festival at BOZAR (I will most certainly do so!):

Along the lines of the artist Pitcho Womba Konga’s Congolisation project, Afropean+ highlights the added value of the African diaspora in the European cultural landscape. Taking place within the context of the Belgian launch of the European Year for Development, this project affirms the interdependence between North and South, and promotes freedom, diversity, creation and solidarity as driving forces for our future.

More info and complete programme of debates, projections and concerts here.

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Photo: Johny Pitts

But what is Afropean? Who are Afropeans?

Writing at Africa Is A Country, Johny Pitts writes:

That’s why I chose to use this rather new word that was born in the early ‘90s when these musical mixtures were being born. Afropean is a term that I felt reflected new identities on the continent and seemed appropriate for a number of reasons. Firstly it hints at cultural influence, rather than simply racial identification, and secondly, for the first time in my life it is a word I’ve been able to use to describe myself that sounds cohesive and whole — isn’t mixed this or half that or hyphenated in any way. Rather, it’s a portmanteau — something whole but born of duality.

Pitts is a photographer and one of the founders of Afropean:

an online multimedia, multidisciplinary journal exploring the social, cultural and aesthetic interplay of black and European cultures, and the synergy of styles and ideas brought about because of this union.
We hope to fill the void left by Erik Kambel’s Afro-Europe blog, which closed down in 2013, and, under Erik’s guidance we will continue to shed light on art, music, literature, news and events from the Afro-European diaspora, as well as produce and commission original essays and projects.

Afropeans are indeed coming!

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Nairobi Notes part I – Labour Day at Uhuru Park

OK, I have been back from Kenya since Monday but I have been catching up with a number of things and haven’t had time to post anything here all week. I hope I will have a bit more time now, so normal posting will resume.

For the next few weeks I will alternate normal commentary and posts, with some relevant and interesting things from the few days I was in Kenya. It was my first time there, and it was a great experience. Work-related activities, especially our main event, the presentation of FRIDE’s report on “Assessing Democracy Assistance” went well – here you can see some pictures of the day. And we managed to do some more interesting stuff like visiting the iHub, attending a seminar on Africa and the ICC, etc.

Throughout the week, I spent quite a bit of time walking around in Nairobi, a city which greatly surprised me. All throughout I had the feeling it was remarkably safe and friendly, at least in comparison to the horror stories people had told me about it… The worst thing – by far – was the traffic, but besides this I greatly enjoyed walking around the centre of town to different places.

And then – last Sunday – before I flew back to Europe I took the opportunity to visit that landmark of Nairobi that it Uhuru Park. Furthermore, it was Labour Day, so I went down to see the  celebrations. There were not many people there (somebody told me more people attended the Ocampo 6 prayers some weeks earlier), and the mood was not either festive, nor angry. The complaints against high fuel and food prices had partly been met when the government announced a tax break for kerosene and diesel, so people chose to stay home as there was not much more to get. Also, the announcement of 12% minimum wage increase is not much when compared to the 25% food inflation since January, so there was nothing to celebrate either. And, to signal how low-profile the celebrations were, neither President Kibaki, nor PM Odinga attended the meeting.

In any case, even without the political charge, it was a lovely day, and many people just went down the park to enjoy the day with their families – so people selling face-paints, balloons, photographs and fun-rides (in ferry-whhels, cars or even a camel) did have something to celebrate.

And I took the opportunity to see some of the colourful floats workers had put together for the occasion. Here’s a small slideshow (I’m not a good photographer but I hope with these images – and the small descriptions – at least you can get an idea of the celebrations).

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On Africa’s ten photographs to remember 2010

The end of another year, and it comes with the inevitable re-caps of the top stories of the year (such as this one), and the predictions and suggestions for the next.
On our second “end-of-year blog-post”, On Africa wants to continue this nice widespread tradition. Unlike last year, when I did a longer and more elaborate summary of 2009’s top stories – so broadly understood many are still relevant – this year we will go for a brief re-cap – in pictures – of what the year has brought (in roughly chronologycal order).
And happy 2011!

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Many African countries celebrate their 50th anniversary of independence
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Part of a large crowd in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, this 30 June, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence. Photograph: UN Photo / Evan Schneider. Source

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SEACOM lands in East Africa
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A Kenyan boy looks at the East African Marine Cable (TEAMS) fiber optic cable from the ship Niwa in Mombasa. The cable has taken 18 months to reach the Kenyan coast by sea from the Middle East and is set to improve information and communication technology in Africa. REUTERS/Joseph Okanga (Source)

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Murder of supremacist leader Terreblanche shakes race relations in South Africa
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Terreblanche’s brother puts the AWB flag on the coffin during his funeral at a church in Ventersdorp on April 9 where 1,000 supporters turned up. AFP/Getty. Source

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Yar’Adua returns, dies and Goodluck Jonathan takes Nigeria’s government
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Ambulance conveying Nigeria president Umaru Yar’Adua drives through the Nnamdi Azikiwe international airport in Abuja February 24, 2010. Yar’Adua died on May 5. Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde. Source

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South Africa’s World Cup
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Archbishop Desmond Tutu welcomes the audience during the opening concert for the soccer World Cup at Orlando stadium. Photo AP/Hassan Ammar. Source.

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Al-Shabaab bombs in Uganda
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The Ethiopian Village Restaurant, one of the scenes of the July 11 twin bomb blasts in Kampala (Uganda) Source

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Kenya’s new constitution
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Kenyan officials cheer as President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga make an address to announce that voters have approved a new constitution on August 5, 2010. Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images. Source

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Food riots in Mozambique
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A demonstrator throws a tyre on to a burning barricade during riots in Mozambique’s capital Maputo. Photo Reuters. Source

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Guinea manages a peaceful election and transfer of power…
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Alpha Conde supporters celebrate victory after November’s election in Guinea. Source.

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…but Côte d’Ivoire doesn’t
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UN troops provide security at a hotel used by Ivory Coast opposition leader Alassane Ouattara and members of his party in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Dec. 6, 2010. Photo AP/Schalk van Zuydam. Source