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"Culture is the heritage of us all. some may be more interested than others in the treasures of the past, but no one can fail to take a pride in his country's participation in the story of mankind, as represented in carvings, sculpture, music, paintings and the other arts. And there is a personal commitment to this, for no man can really say he is alone: we are all joined through our identity, with the cultures which are part of the mainstream of life"
- Simon Kapwepwe, Zambian Independence Freedom Fighter

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill

"Try to be the rainbow in someone else's cloud" - Maya Angelou

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinion drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition" - Steve Jobs

Thursday, 10 May 2012

We ARE Better Than That

I will preface this post by saying that I am well aware that all Black and/or African people are not the same and this extends to all stereotyping that can happen when groups are lumped together.  The works discussed here are what they are because of the very specific circumstances the artists live in, but their message can be applied to people in similar circumstances not just because they are Black and/ or African. They can also resonate with anyone who is subjected to confinement, discouragement and/ or prejudice, especially when borne of anything fear related.

I am a fan of music with a message and have blogged about it before. Saw this music video by Slikour  and was very moved by it both visually and lyrically:

Here is him speaking about why he released the song.  Themes in Slikour's song are actually mirrored nicely in The Throne's (Jay-Z and Kanye West) Ni**as in Paris and Yasiin Bey's (formerly known as Mos Def) response Ni**as in Poorest.

Though the song is inspired by the South African Zeitgeist, it resonates with the issues relating to the Black experience around the world.  I remember having a conversation with an African American and a Caribbean about the crab syndrome, where if the militant types who believe in sticking together and standing up for the race no matter what see you are doing your thing in a way that they do not approve of as it is not in keeping with the rules of the people, they want to pull you back down to burn in the pot and suffer with them.  That, or they will not take any criticism, particularly from their own, as that is not protecting the race but considered to be selling-out or a form of self-hate.  We must not confuse constructive criticism, which is a catalyst for positive change, with the colonial, imperial, slave, prejudicial and/ or racial derogation we have suffered for centuries and are still in the process of healing from. We must also heal together, something I think that South Africa as a country makes a great effort to do and is a great example to be followed.  For every story like the one about the South African model who made a racist tweet, there are people coming together and encouraging action from all sides of the race spectrum to do things like Shout SA.  This action group get artists from all genres and backgrounds to come together to help them get the message out, and this is their latest song:

I say we need more people like Bill Cosby, who through creative means on his show was able to offer a positive image of a Black middle-class family and who was castigated by the African-American community for speaking out about the same thing Slikour raps about in his song!  Makonde Linde would say he is doing the same thing with his blackface art in Sweden,  but his recent work of art, the infamous cake, has polarised, rather than inspired people and change in my opinion...I'd rather something like Abba Makama's brilliant short film , a satirical take on Western media reporting, coupled with African dictator stereotypes, to start a conversation:

WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT! I have seen it, I believe it, I live it and I experience it everyday and I know many others who do too :). We need to tell ourselves to do better, hold ourselves accountable for our actions and strive for excellence no matter who we are, where we come from and what colour we may be.