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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

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Thoughts On The Hybrid Nature Of The African/ Afropolitan Inspired By Music

The world in general is becoming more and more hybrid in a myriad of ways.  Some of us are accepting these blurrings, fragmentations and fluidity kicking and screaming.  But any true Afropolitan is so used to their identity being in constant flux that the instability and unpredictability of their own world as well as the world we live in is oddly comforting.  I have been meaning to start posting about this for a while.  It seems only fitting that this be my last proper post before I journey back to the motherland.  I have gotten used to this constant moving to and fro from the continent to the West.  If I am not on a plane within 3 months I feel weird, due to having gone to boarding school since 11.  This is proving to be rather expensive as I now have to finance these trips he he he ;}

I was moved by Nneka's video, Africans, this week as the lyrics really spoke to me.

It made me think of how colonisation has made all us Africans hybrids, straddling Western influence and African tradition and culture, trying to marry and recognise, accept and adopt the two to forge ahead into the future.  It made me think of how Zimbabwe is suffering from the constant scapegoating instead of moving forward.  It is time to stop blaming, to stop crying over spilt milk because its already been spilt - there is nothing more to do but to mop up the mess and learn how to not topple the bowl again.  Nneka's afropolitan nature due to race, culture, music and style got me on thinking more about how music and musicans reflect how we are redefining ourselves and communicating who we are as Africans in our diversity and similarity.

Ayo first came to mind as like Nneka, she is also half Nigerian and half German, as well as having released a video for Life is Real earlier that seems to have inspired the Africans video aesthetic.

I love how the lyrics encourage people to be real because life is real.  Take what people say with a grain of salt and ultimately do what you want to do and be who you want to be unabashedly and pridefully.  As Mr. Darcy said "Yes, vanity is a weakness indeed. But pride -- where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under good regulation".  Yes he may be a fiction character of Jane Austen's making, but he does have a point.  Vanity is what leads people to be the people they think they should be using whatever means, regardless of the damage that ensues as a result.  Pride, when checked is what allows people to stand firm, to care about who they are and to be vanguards.  But there is a proviso as I have said with engaging this emotion, you really do need to temper it with humility.  We have seen how our own African pride has gotten us into all sorts of messes about the continent, like with tribal and ethnic wars for example.

I also got introduced to a lovely Zimbabwean artist through MIghTy African called Tinashe.  He expresses what it is like to become the chameleon that many of us end up being as we traverse the globe and are constantly moving through different scenery and cultures on his Facebook Page and again on his blog. I really do not like the terms oreo at black folk, coconut at brown folk, and twinkie and banana at east asians when they are not fitting into some stereotypical representation of self.  The joy of human life is in our variety.

This video plays his two singles Saved and Zambezi.  You can check out his website too for more info.

Identity is on the brain as I begin my sojourn back home for an indeterminate period of time.  I am excited to remember what it is like to be physically part of a family and to nourish my soul in the motherlands soothing balm of sunshine.  At the same time I am journeying with trepidation as I think about how I am going to represent myself, something I always struggle with wherever I am, but what troubles me most about the way it is at home is that feeling of belonging but not belonging at the same time and how to reconcile that. Questions and thoughts a of womanhood, Africaness, adulthood and presentation are on constant loop in my head right now and I have two long haul flights to continue to ruminate, dissect, and torture myself :(


  1. Whenever I return to the motherland, I am reminded that no matter how much I try to 'recreate' her in the cosmopolitan world, her essence just cannot be captured and transported anywhere but within her.
    It is she who gives me inspiration, and this is why it is our duty as Afropolitans to keep it real, to stop blaming and crying over her, and instead explaing and understanding her.
    I am a big fan of both Nneka, Ayo and Tinashe too.
    Wishing you many inspirations on your return.

  2. You are right her essence is not only contained within her, we afropolitans are blessed be be able to take a piece of her within us because we are a part of her. I recently figured out that we afropolitans have the spirits of Westerners, the souls of Africans and the hearts of global citizens. We are in such a powerful position to create networks of change and understanding but half the time we are weighed down by this privilege rather than choosing to revel in it by exploiting our potential.

    I am determined to revel and be unapologetic of the life I have had and the person I want to be and the choices I make, because ultimately, it is all in service of the motherland :)