Saturday, August 4, 2007

THE AFRICAN IDENTITY-WHAT IS IT?

A while back I was invited to give a talk to a post-graduate class on Inside Africa at the New York University. The topic for which I was to speak on - What is the AFRICAN IDENTITY?

DO WE HAVE ONE? IF SO WHAT IS IT

IS IT THE FACT THAT WE COME FROM THE SAME CONTINENT-ONE LAND MASS WITH SEVERAL ISLANDS REFERRED TO AS AFRICA



IS IT THE COLOUR OF OUR SKIN, COUNTRY, TRIBE, ETHNIC AFFILIATION

CUSHITES



NILOTES



Photo by BBC

BANTU

Copyright South African Tourism



ASIAN


CAUCASIAN




ARAB



WHAT ABOUT THE ANIMALS AND THE ENVIRONMENT




IS IT OUR LEADERS



IS IT OUR ART WORK



COULD IT BE THE FOOD WE EAT



OR IS IT RELIGION


Photo by Brian McMorrow

VOODOO Photo by BBC


IS IT DEFINED BY OUR CLOTHING



IS IT THE MANNER IN WHICH WE SING AND DANCE

ETHIOPIAN DANCE





SOUTH AFRICAN



ZULU



KENYAN FUSION



ALGERIAN BELLY DANCE




CONGOLESE LINGALA




SOUTH AFRICAN TUNES



NIGERIA'S FELA



TANZANIAN BONGO MUSIC



WOLOF MUSIC




ETHIOPIAN TUNES




CLASSIC SOMALIA TUNES




OUR PEOPLE WHO TRY TOO HARD AND MAKE US LAUGH





WHAT ABOUT THE ONES WHO COME AND STAY GET MARRIED ETC




ALL I KNOW, IT FEELS GOOD TO BE AN AFRICAN

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

African Liz:

All I know is I love what you just did.

African identity is an idea that only, I think, which exists only in the minds of those whove never been to the continent.

Outside of this there really aren't many commonalities. But don't get me wrong what people think is big already because it defines how people treat each other.

For example, conventional media outside of the continent tends to treat all stories from Africa-irrespective of the nation they come from like the same story. Many folks whove never visited the continent are taught to treat the media like it's the gospel and never question anything that they see, so in the end we have leagues of people who have 1 single image in their mind when it comes to that word "Africa".

Meanwhile on the continent you have folks who would be just as surprised or shocked at sights and sounds in their neighboring countries as they would if they were in Australia. Likewise, I might feel as if I were in a different universe if I visited a state like Wisconsin. And thats just a different state, so one can imagine how much more differnt it can be to cross a national border.

Anyhow, Good work Liz. By the way, did Pres. Thobo Mbeki help you close out your writing? :)

-Just benin

Aliko said...

by the way i always seem to 4get that we have africancaucasion wazungus...sijui kwanini may be its the reverse reflection i get living in the western countries

luihamu said...

Afrika for Africans,Africa will be identified by its strong colour,THE BLACK MANS POWER WHICH IS THE BLACK COLOUR.

Liz,remember Prophet Peter Tosh
He said,no matter where you come from as long as you are a Black Man You are an AFRICAN
Liz,remember Prophet Burning Spear
He said,so they wanted I to change my Identity.

GLORY BE TO HIS MAJESTY HAILE SELLASI I,KING OF KINGS,LORDS OF LORDS,LION OF JUDAH.Jah Rastafarian.

Rama said...

You've managed to outdo yourself this time, great work.

Ann (MobayDP) said...

Great post! I suspect it is a combination of all these things.

I especially like the food part though! :D

Papa Shongo said...

Does this summarize your speech? How did the class react? I was discussing this with a friend last night. We were talking about the idea of an US of Africa. My take was that it was a ludicrous notion considering that we don't have an AFRICAN identity and without this no project of that kind would ever be possible! It's only in my opinion when you've lived for a while out of Africa that you develop this notion of being AFRICAN. My reasoning is that feeling the need to belong, we start approaching other Africans from any part of Africa who give us a sense of security etc. whereas when you are back home (from Senegal for instance), you could care less about your brothers and sis down in South Africa for instance. Back home the connection is absent. Anyway, enough of my ramblings already. I love what you did with the pics and vids. Nice.

AFRICAN LIZ said...

@Benin yes thats Mbeki's line and mine too:)))))

http://saharanvibe.blogspot.com/2007/03/i-am-african-by-president-thabo-mbeki.html

The audience in the class comprised of students from USA, Europe, Asia and one British South African. All curious to learn about the African continent in the 21st century.
@papa shongo I did not use any slides or images just talked my way through it.

Colonization inherently destroyed the traditional identities and distorted the notion of what we in the African continent perceive ourselves to be. Personally,after considerable thought and deliberation I have come to conclude that there is no African identity. The only common element is that we share a common geographical land mass referred to as the African continent. Since attaining independence Africa has been unable to forge a new identity. Our leaders have also failed to create societies where all the citizens of all races/tribes feel they can safely belong. A majority if not all of our leaders rule their countries and give loyalty to specific tribes/clan/race.

Here in the USA this what I have come to observe when individuals from the African continent are asked by persons not from Africa "Where do you come from?" They gladly say they are from Africa. When asked by an African the same question they say their country name, when asked by their country men the same question the answer that often erupts is the tribe and region within the country they hail from.

I believe the establishment of an African identity will depend on individual efforts and our leaders.

National/country identity is so strong in Africa despite the fact that if you delve within this country's you will discover irreconcilable differences between tribes, races, religious groups etc. Individuals in many countries could care less about what goes on in other countries within the continent and only sympathize with them when they come to learn of some sort of unrest in a particular country.

Integration initiatives in Africa also serves as testament to the current African identity debacle. Currently within the African continent, there are efforts underway to create regional groupings and with the hopes that it will cultivate and foster regional identities. Regional integration is perceived as a necessary precursor to continental government and unity. However the challenge is enormous. For example Somalia has been embroiled in war for over a decade now. Currently Somalia has split into three or four countries. Uniting Somalia is a challenge and chances of that territory becoming one again is nil. Chances of the North African countries being a part of one state sharing a national identity is a mere mirage.

Lastly,I don't think Africa is the only one trying to grapple with the identity issue? For example the Japanese often think of themselves as a homogeneous society, with a strong sense of group and national identity and little or no ethnic or racial diversity.China too is a homogeneous society and culture. However, I am yet to hear the two country's concede to have common Asian identity.

chuck palumbo said...

Kunyan fusion ohhhh my god that what i call cursory shaking....... Saida Karoli you have just made my day.......

ndumiso said...

wow thanks a lot with the way you describe Africa it has helped me to gain boldiness concerning my continent & i have learnt to say I am proud to be an African.

ndumiso said...

wow I love what u said about Africa you have helped as a young person and a student at the University of Kwa Zulu Natal(SA)& to teach other students about our continent and the pride of Africa,now i have learnt to be bold of my continent now i have learnt to say i'm a proud African thank

 
Afrigator