the-africa-issue

Mixed Black African Girl (Cameroonian/French)

I’m a mixed black african girl who grew up and lived most of her life in Cameroon, in Central Africa. My dad is half-white (french) and half-black (cameroonian), and my mom is 100% cameroonian. There’s little to no black african characters in popular fiction, which has always bothered me, and it would be so nice to read about someone like me for once.

  • Culture and food

Cameroon is a country created during colonization, with borders defined by europeans. Because of that, Cameroon is actually made of 200 ethnic groups, each of them having their own language and culture. So the culture and daily habits vary a lot depending on which region of Cameroon you are in. In the big cities, though, everyone is mingled no matter where they’re from. However, so many different ethnic groups cohabiting together often causes tension. There are also a lot of stereotypes about every ethnic group.

I grew up in the central and coastal areas of the country, and I’m Bassa. The Bassa are one of the main ethnic groups in Cameroon. If your parents are from two different ethnic groups, it is decided that you officially belong to your father’s ethnic group. My mother is Bakoko but my father is Bassa, so I’m the latter. When I meet another Cameroonian, two of the first questions we usually ask each other are : What are you (meaning, what’s your ethnic group) ? and Where is you village ?

Villages are very important in the Cameroonian culture. Your village is where your father’s ancestors were born. Even if you’re not born there, you usually have grandparents or great-uncles or family friends living there, and if you have enough money to do so you must regularly visit your village. And usually, when people earn enough money, they send money to their village so that people living there can have a better life, build more houses and schools etc.

Cameroonian food is very diverse, and varies depending on the region. The national dish is Ndolé, a dish made with ndolé leaves, stewed nuts, and meat (fish, beef or shrimps). Other common foods are bobolo and miondo (food made out of fermented manioc), soya (spicy grilled meat on skewers), and plantain. My dad is half-french though, so at home we eat almost as much french food as cameroonian food (crème brûlée, shepherd’s pie, beef bourguignon, A LOT of bread and cheese).

  • Language

There are hundreds of different languages, but the official languages are French and English. Cameroon was colonized by France and England so Northern Cameroon mainly speaks english and central/southern Cameroon mainly speaks french. Most people also speak their ethnic group’s language. I don’t know how to speak Bassa, though, because neither do my parents. When me and my siblings were kids, our dad asked our baby-sitter to teach us, but she could only do so much and I only remember a few words.

  • Beauty Standards

Like most countries, there is a lot of colorism in Cameroon based on European beauty standards. When you’re a woman, the lighter you are, the prettier and more desirable you are considered. Dark skinned women are often mocked and considered not as pretty. A lot of people, mainly women but also men, use dangerous products to lighten their skin. Internalized racism and white beauty standards are very insidious, and a lot of people want to look like white people, including me when I was younger. As a kid I remember wishing i was a pretty blonde-haired blue-eyed white girl like the heroines of the books i was reading. Growing up I stopped wishing that, but I relaxed and straightened my hair a lot, wanting to have long straight hair without realizing that it was still an attempt to look like the ideal version of a white girl. I’m sure that if I had more black female characters to relate to when I was growing up, I wouldn’t have spend so many years hating myself without even realizing I was doing it.

Also, Cameroonians usually consider thick, curvy women to be the ideal beauty standard. But being thin is still an ideal broadcast by the media (especially that american and european media are heavily broadcast and consumed in Cameroon) so most women still diet a lot and go to the gym to lose weight.

  • Clothing

Women wear a lot of skirts and dresses, be it casual or for work. Most cameroonian schools have uniforms and mandatory hairstyles (either cornrows or short shaved hair).

Elderly people often wear more traditional clothes and outfits. The most prominent traditional item of clothing is the Kaba. The Kaba is a long dress made of wax fabric and other materials and is owned by pretty much every woman. The dress looks different depending on the situation : the Kaba you wear when you stay at home is usually very long and very loose, the Kaba you wear during official/formal events is more tight-fitting and stylized, etc.

  • Dating and Relationships

I’ve never dated anyone, but when I was in high school none of my friends ever told their parents they were seeing someone. Having your parents know about and meet the person you’re dating after only a few weeks or months is something that just doesn’t happen (unless someone gets pregnant). It’s when things get serious that you introduce them to your family. Also, a lot of parents would prefer their children to marry someone from the same ethnic group.

Homosexuality is still illegal there, and you can go to jail for being gay.

  • Home/Family life

My parents are still happily married, and I have 3 siblings. My parents are both close to their siblings, and I’m close to mine. Me and my siblings grew up with our cousins, we were always at each other’s houses. I pretty much consider most of my cousins as extra siblings. We have a very big extended family and every day I discover new distant cousins, aunts, great-uncles etc. My dad being half-french, when I was growing up we sometimes went to France during summer to visit his relatives living there.

In Cameroon, most people who have enough money to do so send their children to study abroad once they’ve graduated high school. I’m currently living in France for my studies, and most of my high school friends are also going to college in France, England, Canada, Brussels, South Africa etc.

  • Identity issues

Despite being only ¼ white, I’m very light-skinned. My siblings being much darker skinned, when I was a kid I thought I was adopted (i’m not, it’s just genetics). Cameroon being a black country, when someone is visibly mixed and light-skinned as i am, most people just label them “white”. A lot of people would refer to me as “the white” and it always really hurt me. My family wouldn’t understand why i was so angry and hurt, they’d say “they don’t mean anything by it, it’s just that you’re light” but the fact is it made me feel like i don’t belong. I’m cameroonian, i’ve lived in Cameroon almost my entire life, i’m black, and still some people see me as “other”, they see me as white. And so for a long time, I didn’t dare to call myself black, I’d say “I’m biracial” or “I’m mixed” instead because I somehow felt like a fraud. But I’m black and not white-passing at all, and I still experience racism abroad (but I’m aware I have a lot more privilege than dark skinned people).

  • Daily struggles

So I’m currently living in France. On one hand, sometimes white people are racist toward me, or just totally obnoxious and ignorant, trying to touch my natural hair and thinking that people in Cameroon don’t have computers or whatever. On the other hand, when I randomly meet other cameroonians and we start talking, they always assume that because i’m mixed i’ve lived my entire life in France and i don’t know anything about Cameroon. And there’s nothing wrong with being a child of immigrants and not knowing the country your parents or grandparents came from, but i know that if i wasn’t visibly mixed they wouldn’t question the fact that i know Cameroon and lived there my entire life.

  • Misconceptions

Because of how the media depict African countries, a lot of people think that everyone in Africa is extremely poor and starving, that we don’t have electricity and internet and that everyone lives in huts. Which is so false. We have rich people and poor people, we have huge modern cities and regular cities and small villages with huts, almost everyone has access to a tv and internet, etc.

  • Things I’d like to see less of

Cameroon and other african countries being depicted as poor unfortunate countries where everyone is starving and illiterate and waiting for the generous white people to save us. What we need is for people to see us as the humans we are, and to allow us to grow in peace.

  • Things I’d like to see more of

Black african characters being written as the complex human beings we are. Shy black african characters. Nerdy and hella smart black african characters. Mixed black african characters who struggle with their identity. LGBTQ black african characters.

  • Tropes/Stereotypes I’m tired of seeing.

The “savage”, “uncivilized” african. African characters who are aggressive, dumb and shout all the time. The poor africans in need of saving by white people.

nature.com
South Africa’s San people issue ethics code to scientists
The indigenous people — known for their click languages — are the first in Africa to draft guidelines for researchers.

On 2 March, three communities in South Africa issued their own research-ethics code — thought to be the first from any indigenous group in Africa. Although the rules will carry no legal weight, their authors hope that scientists will feel compelled to submit proposals for research in San communities to a review panel of community members. And the San may refuse to collaborate with institutions whose staff do not comply, the rules warn.

The code was developed by traditional leaders of the !Xun, Khwe and !Khomani groups of San, which represent around 8,000 people in South Africa.

“We’ve been bombarded by researchers over the years,” says Hennie Swart, director of the South African San Institute in Kimberley, which helped to develop the code. “It’s not a question of not doing the research. It’s a question of doing it right.”

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Ok Tumblr we need to have a little talk. This is called the Hamsa; it is a religious symbol and cultural symbol for those who are Jewish, Arabic, Hindu, and from Northern Africa. So here’s the issue way too many people who have no connection to these cultures or religions are getting them tattooed or wearing clothing that have the Hamsa on them. I’m sorry to tell you folks, but the truth of the matter is what is being done is culture appropriation and extremely wrong.  

Being a Togolese Immigrant Teen in America

Since Togo is in West Africa, these issues focus mostly on that region, and not just the country, although generally when West Africans are mentioned in media or just in general, people like to focus on the familiar: Nigeria, or, less so, Ghana. While those countries are great and there are a large number of immigrants from those countries in the United States and elsewhere, people assuming that’s where I’m from is not necessarily flattering or a good feeling. Nigeria is not the only country in West Africa, just like Ethiopia is not the only country in the East. Please just wait for people to explain where they’re from. 

Community & Belonging: 

While my immediate family did not move to a region in the US where there were a lot of immigrants from our country, that’s generally what others do. My aunt’s family, for example, moved to New York/New Jersey and became close with a large community of other Africans there (not necessarily from the same country). They hold parties or functions most weekends where they get together and eat/drink/party, just lots of people who speak the same language and eat the same foods and know the same people. My cousins who have grown up in that community have a built-in set of friends who may or may not live near them or be the same age, albeit being close. I, on the other hand, moved here when I was 6 and spent the rest of my childhood being surrounded by mostly white children who, as nice as they were, did not fill my need for others who understood me. This is a big thing in African immigrant teens - being understood, belonging somewhere. 

It would have been nice if my family had moved to a place where there were a lot of other children for me to relate to, I might have grown up feeling differently about my identity. As it is, I feel like it’s all on me to explore my own culture again and understand it in different context than I did when I was a kid - I have to learn to cook the foods my aunts do, re-learn my own native language, etc. It leaves me feeling very isolated and unable to connect, a feeling my little brother certainly shares but my cousins do not to the same extent. 

Home & Family Life: 

Generally in African culture, the mother has the final say, but the father is never to be messed with. In my own family, my father traveled for work frequently and therefore wasn’t around for many decisions my stepmother made, but I’ve seen it works the same way in my aunt’s household. 

The mother is responsible for a lot. Even if she works regularly, she has the responsibility of cooking meals, disciplining the children, taking care of all their needs, etc, etc. Often, daughters split responsibility - once they’re old enough to learn, they have to know how to cook, how to clean, how to keep house in general, on top of keeping up with schoolwork. The general consensus seems to be that boys can do that if they want, but they don’t have to, and so often grow up lazier than they would if they had to bear the same responsibilities I, my sisters, and cousins do.

Home life is generally strict, otherwise. Going out with friends like other teens do is/was never an option for older children but seems to be one for younger kids (who are born in the US), a phenomenon that frustrates to no end. Dating is OUT of the question for everyone - from the age of 10 to maybe 16 everyone tells you to stay away from the opposite sex (citing several religious reasons or making up outrageous stories or just pushing school like one might push drugs), until they start to ask whether you have a boyfriend/girlfriend, and then whether you are getting married soon. There is no space in between where anyone tries to have a conversation about sex, about how to act around the opposite sex - nothing. They only exist in certain contexts, and god forbid you bring them up outside of those.

While both parents are home, though, they expect to be catered to and obeyed. Generally my father will call me downstairs for tiny things like getting him the phone and dialing a number for him, or giving him the remote, etc, while my stepmother stuck to bigger tasks like getting food ready or whatever needed to be done that she couldn’t do. 

School & Friends

When I made friends at school, sleepovers were never a thing I could have - my parents didn’t want something to happen to them and be blamed for it, or vice versa - and so my social life ended when I got the school bus, generally. I regret not pushing more outside of my circle, though at the time I felt it wouldn’t be worth it if I moved, if they didn’t understand my family, or if I could never hang out outside of school. It’s become a bigger issue in high school, especially being a senior, because most friend groups are fully established and generally frightening to try to assimilate into. So now that I live with my sister and could go out, it’s not even an option - I’ve isolated myself to the point where I’m the hallway-friend - I know lots of people and eat lunch with them or work on projects with them, but I’d never text them or follow them on instagram. People asking about friends is a touchy subject - I can say I have friends, but I can’t produce them for you, isolating me even more, in my own mind. 

Language

Because of European colonization, most African countries’ official languages are French or English, which tends to surprise a lot of Americans - who only remember history back to the Emancipation Proclomation (which they really believe freed the slaves). Regardless - I do speak French, demi-fluently, at least. Immigrant kids tend to have spoken 1 or 2 languages (one European and one of their own dialect) before they arrived in the US, and their parents may have chosen to speak only 1 of those languages, or none at all to encourage them to learn English faster.

This wasn’t very much of a problem until recent years for me. When I was six I spoke French and Mina (the language of the Ewe - my ethnic group), but since only French was spoken at home, that’s all I can really speak now, even though I do still understand Mina. Because of this, whenever I go home to visit people tend to make fun of me calling me “La Americain” or whatever, but the biggest problem is with my own parents, who made the decision to only speak French at home. Now that I’m almost an adult, they complain that I can’t speak French as well as I’d like to or speak Mina at all. All this does is make me angry and hurt - I feel that if they really cared they’d be more understanding of my losing my language, but generally immigrant teens I know just make a quiet resolution to learn on their own.  Even if they don’t, language (or, the lack of), is never really talked about beyond aunts and uncles asking you whether you understand what they’re saying and then, if you don’t, their lamenting that you don’t. 

Impersonally - there are many dialects even within a single region in a country. I understand the Mina that my stepmother speaks but not that my father or mother speak, which means we often converse in a strange mix of French & English, with them occasionally talking at me in Mina. 

Read more POC Profiles here.

bzfd.it
2016 Was The Year Black Lives Matter Went Global
Activists for black, brown, and indigenous rights around the world have adopted the Black Lives Matter slogan alongside homegrown movements against racism and police brutality.
By Susie Armitage

2016 was the year Black Lives Matter went truly global.

The US-born movement has spread as far as Brazil, South Africa, and Australia, where activists have taken to the streets and social media in solidarity with the victims of police killings. They’ve adopted the “Black Lives Matter” rallying cry to amplify homegrown movements and calls for racial justice — and used it to point out what they say is a hypocritical approach by the media and power structures in their countries.

“French media are able to see colors in other countries and write in a story headline that a black person was killed by the police in the US, but they are not able to do that in France,” Fania Noël, the coordinator of Black Lives Matter France, told BuzzFeed News.

International connections between civil rights and anti-colonialist movements aren’t new. But as a global phenomenon, BLM and offshoots like Native Lives Matter have fueled momentum and helped smaller groups connect and be heard. US organizers are approaching their work with a global lens. The policy platform developed by the Movement for Black Lives has been translated into Spanish, French, Arabic, and Chinese, and endorsed by Canadian activists who see it as a model.

BuzzFeed News spoke with activists in France, Brazil, Australia, Canada, the UK, the US, and South Africa on the issues local Black Lives Matter activists are focusing on, how they’re working together and how they see the future of organizing amid the global rise of far-right white nationalism.

Fuck Wolverine; Give me a Storm Movie

No but seriously, imagine a movie starring Storm in Africa being worshipped as a Goddess and she has to use her powers to stop mutant genocides in the villages who believe mutations are a form of Witchcraft and so they burn them at the stake, and she also has to stop various horrible crimes. She can also have Oya aka Idie Okonkwo as a sidekick and apprentice who she finds in Africa. She can face the issue of AIDs too.

Or it can be an Origin movie and we can cast someone far better than Halle Berry in the role to play her in her teens-twenties being a Goddess or a Champion.

You can show her working for the Shadow King and his attempts to force enslavement and rape and abuse the African Tribal Men and women and running trafficking. 

They can do a lot in relation to the various social and political issues in Africa, there can be a lot of metaphors and such. Storm can meet the Morlocks and lead them or something. It’d be a fun ass movie. FUCK I CAN WRITE AN EPIC ASS SCREENPLAY FOR THIS SHIT MYSELF!

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Diezel 

Country: Republic of South Africa via Kenya and Australia

Style: Afro-Pop Art

Fun Fact: Superstroke Pop Artist, Diezel was born on a farm in South Africa, lived and sculpted in Kenya and is now a resident of Australia where she works from a studio in Sydney.

She has painted since childhood and picked up her artist name at university.  She feels that growing up in Africa was a special privilege and fuelled a wild imagination. She has travelled extensively and feels particularly inspired by cultural societies, political issues and people’s belief systems.

Diezel admires the work of the Pop Artists of the Sixties, Jean-Michel Basquat and Lichtenstein and that influence can be seen in her work.  She uses animals as metaphors for humans and employs irony to provoke a deeper understanding of the complex world we live in.  The scribbles and and drippings in her work confronts the paradigm of social, political and cultural issues, with Africa often as the backdrop.

Quote: “My work is influenced by the vulnerability of people, their situations, emotions and their beliefs. I use dripping paint and scribbles to symbolise experience and  animals who are metaphors for the complex conditions humans exist in.”

more at http://diezelart.com/

In Kenya’s rural communities the word “single” before mother turns something cherished into a burden. Most single mothers struggle to earn money, live far below the poverty line, and are often treated as pariahs in their communities. Despite these significant challenges, providing and caring for their children is their top priority. Peace Corps Volunteer, Teneasha Pierson, shares her thoughts after leading a malaria prevention training with the Elewana Education Project in Western Kenya.

Stomping Out Malaria Weekly Awesome in Kenya: Single Mothers Training