newyorker
Despair is a much more dangerous feeling than fear, because fear is an intense feeling and, even if it can be momentarily paralyzing, in the end it calls for action, and, surprisingly, it can also create solutions. But despair is a feeling that calls for passivity and acceptance of reality even if it is unbearable, and it sees every spark of hope, every desire for change as a cunning enemy.
Etgar Keret, in an exchange with Sayed Kashua on Israel’s condition. (via newyorker)
dynamicafrica
dynamicafrica:

atane:

shakeyourmanetmaker:

dynamicafrica:

atane:

See the kind of nonsense Ellen is tweeting.

After Marlon Wayans’ fiasco at the MTV Africa Music Awards, I’m seriously getting incredibly sick and tired of Americans (in this case comedians specifically) using this tired ‘ignorant American’ angle as a base for their jokes. What they, and many who come to their defense saying it’s ‘just satire’ or ‘just a joke’, don’t realize is that this type of rhetoric is wrapped up in US exceptionalism and US superiority. Only Americans can make jokes like this, jokes that remind us (or perhaps just me) that we live in a world where Americans can dominate on so many levels and still happily be ignorant about places where they’ve more than just left a bad taste in people’s mouths.
If all this sounds like I’m taking a joke too far, just know that many of us Africans are reminded daily of how unimportant our lives are in this world and jokes about this don’t make us feel any better.

Seriously consider— how often do people half the world away have to know any detail at all about Ghana? It’s not a country that is regularly on US news. Most people only learn the name of the country and that it’s in western Africa. Yes, it’s shitty. Yes, the “ignorant American” joke is old. But realize that most people in the US don’t have any reason to know anything about countries outside The US, Canada, Mexico, England, Germany, Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan, China, both Koreas, and wherever the latest natural disaster is. And even then, we don’t bother with most news coming out of any of those named countries unless it will directly influence some inane part of our lives, like traffic. It’s not that your lives are unimportant to the world. It’s that most US people and news outlets are busy with news and events happening in the US, just the same as other countries and their inhabitants are busy with the news and events happening in their own counties. It’s not to belittle anyone group or persons. It’s just.. blinders. 

To address the above, nothing in this explanation explains the irreverent and dismissive mentality towards things relating to Africa in general. This is the crux of the matter with these so called “jokes”. What you’re asking me to “seriously consider” isn’t why the tweet was offensive.
Let me give you a scenario. I know very little about Azerbaijan. However, I don’t act like Azerbaijan is an irrelevant non-entity I know little about or can’t locate on a map for “jokes”. Whether you can locate a country on a map or know anything about the sociopolitical climate of a country is not the issue here. There is a long, racist history of African nations being depicted in irreverent and dismissive manners, as if Africa is an unknown and uncharted place without over a billion people. Some people still think Africa is a country and will mention visiting Africa instead of an actual country or countries. Anything pertaining to Africa will reference animals and landscapes. In the event that people are mentioned, then the narrative will center on poverty, famine or war. This baggage cannot be ignored.
Here is a life tip. When people point things out that don’t sit well with or has offended them, try not to explain away the wrong and offensive behavior, no matter how rational you think you’re being. It rarely comes across well, despite your intentions. This is a time for you to listen, take everything in, try to understand and then reflect. It is not a time to retort and explain. Nothing you said are things we don’t already know. Was that supposed to be educational? Westerners aren’t bothered to know about Africans, news at 11.
Here is why your explanation is off-putting. If someone has a problem with how they are constantly being depicted and spoken about, be it with “jokes”, or anything else, it’s not really prudent to retort with something along the lines of “Well, I know it sucks how we sometimes describe you, but the reason we describe you in such a terrible manner is because we have no reason to know anything about you whatsoever. It’s not that you’re unimportant or anything, we just aren’t bothered to know things. We have no reason to know things outside of the US, Canada, Mexico, England, Germany, Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan, China, both Koreas, and wherever the latest natural disaster is.” - Gee, thanks.
I also find it curious that your last 2 sentences say “It’s not to belittle anyone group or persons. It’s just.. blinders.” Right, because someone “joking” about how it took them longer to locate Ghana on a map than their country scoring a goal is not belittling at all. It’s downright uplifting and empowering. Ghanaians should be beaming with pride and they should feel like giants after reading that. How could that tweet be anything else but belittling?
If this is a case of blinders, then people need to open their eyes. Going through life with blinders on sounds terrible. Especially when in this case, those blinders are voluntary. They don’t have to be on. People can take them off if they want to.
Anyway, this has little to do with differing opinions or ignorant people making “jokes” at the expense of Africans. This is more about Africans asserting themselves and not taking BS lying down. We’ve been the butt of cheap jokes for far too long. I’m well beyond the point of reforming the ignorant. That’s not my job. We shouldn’t have to beg people to recognize our humanity. These “jokes” are about minimizing us, and by us I mean Africans collectively. Now whether the joke tellers or people who think these jokes are not a big deal get that is another matter entirely. They’re going to do what they’re going to do. If I have to explain why our existence is not a punchline, then I know I’m dealing with a person who has an empathy chip missing.
What I care about are the negative and harmful messages we imbibe about ourselves as Africans and how we can combat that. When there are systems in place that keep making us feel little and less than, the vulnerable and impressionable among us will start to believe it. Dingbats like Ellen and others who continue to employ this tired and antiquated trope of “unknown Africa” are the least of my concerns. They are always coddled. I know that their ignorance will always be explained away, no matter how inconsiderate, egregious, distasteful and unnecessary it is. Someone will swoop in to rescue them or explain away their behavior, instead of rightfully chastising them and taking them to task. That’s the thing, the privileged and powerful are always rescued after doing wrong, while the vulnerable and marginalized are left hanging. They remain the punchline of the joke, forever to be victimized for hilarity or whatever else the powerful want to use them for. We’re the meat in their grinder.
It truly will be a new day whenever people collectively come together and say something is wrong, fullstop; and then leave it at that. Imagine no one explaining the rationale of entire societies dismissing you, as if there is a reasonable explanation for that. Not knowing where a country is on a map does not explain this attitude. You don’t have to be a master of geography to be a decent human being.
Westerners don’t come out of the womb with an irreverence for all things Africa. This is learned behavior. It is the blueprint of white supremacy to not value Africa and Africans. Western societies are built entirely on this. My goal is to make sure fellow Africans don’t adopt mentalities that are self-hating and corrosive. I focus on the children.
I have 3 nieces and 3 nephews and they have to hear garbage jokes that deride Africans all the time and they are constantly made to feel less than for simply existing. From their beautiful names to everything else that identifies them as being ‘African’ children. It’s a constant battle having to tell them that we are worthy when the outside world tells them we are not. My friend’s mom was reduced to tears when she found out that her daughter didn’t want her to come to a Parent Teacher Association meeting because she didn’t want to be seen with her mom wearing traditional clothes and because she has a heavy Nigerian (Igbo) accent. Now ask yourself what kind of environment would make a child feel ashamed of their own mother wearing her beautiful traditional clothes and the way she speaks. It’s an environment that makes you and your people feel less than and that is routinely dismissive of your identities. It’s an environment that has you as the punchline for jokes and that refuses to acknowledge your existence and humanity. There is always something to make us feel less than. From mean spirited attacks to “jokes”. From being called “African Booty Scratcher” to beloved comics using their broad platforms to make insensitive jokes and to sometimes outright insult us.
This is why we must value, love and support ourselves. No one else will. Part of this process is not accepting being the constant punchline for ignorant jokes. I see far too many Africans putting up with and going along with this nonsense. I want to tell them that it’s not okay to be complacent about your own derision for the sake of fitting in. Speak up about it. If someone has a problem with that, then they don’t need to be in your life.
Keep pushing back. Don’t shut up. Don’t take it.

Before even read your response, the section that is in bold is exactly what I was thinking about when I intended to respond to that person’s comment. There’s a reason why I made mention of Marlon Wayans, it was to note that these kinds of jokes aren’t one-off solitary statements, they are something of a trend that exist in a world that unjokingly support this kind of rhetoric and have real consequences. These are the kinds of things people like Ellen, Wayans and other comedians, and even companies like Delta, need to be especially aware of. To grow up and to exist in a world where you are constantly being ridiculed and reduced to insulting stereotypes is incredibly dehumanizing. 
In short: we are tired of the bullshit. It’s not funny. Never was, never will be.
Oh and, Atane for president!

I agree that Africa and Africans should not be derided by the West. Kudos for defending your humanity.

dynamicafrica:

atane:

shakeyourmanetmaker:

dynamicafrica:

atane:

See the kind of nonsense Ellen is tweeting.

After Marlon Wayans’ fiasco at the MTV Africa Music Awards, I’m seriously getting incredibly sick and tired of Americans (in this case comedians specifically) using this tired ‘ignorant American’ angle as a base for their jokes. What they, and many who come to their defense saying it’s ‘just satire’ or ‘just a joke’, don’t realize is that this type of rhetoric is wrapped up in US exceptionalism and US superiority. Only Americans can make jokes like this, jokes that remind us (or perhaps just me) that we live in a world where Americans can dominate on so many levels and still happily be ignorant about places where they’ve more than just left a bad taste in people’s mouths.

If all this sounds like I’m taking a joke too far, just know that many of us Africans are reminded daily of how unimportant our lives are in this world and jokes about this don’t make us feel any better.

Seriously consider— how often do people half the world away have to know any detail at all about Ghana? It’s not a country that is regularly on US news. Most people only learn the name of the country and that it’s in western Africa. Yes, it’s shitty. Yes, the “ignorant American” joke is old. But realize that most people in the US don’t have any reason to know anything about countries outside The US, Canada, Mexico, England, Germany, Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan, China, both Koreas, and wherever the latest natural disaster is. And even then, we don’t bother with most news coming out of any of those named countries unless it will directly influence some inane part of our lives, like traffic. It’s not that your lives are unimportant to the world. It’s that most US people and news outlets are busy with news and events happening in the US, just the same as other countries and their inhabitants are busy with the news and events happening in their own counties. It’s not to belittle anyone group or persons. It’s just.. blinders. 

To address the above, nothing in this explanation explains the irreverent and dismissive mentality towards things relating to Africa in general. This is the crux of the matter with these so called “jokes”. What you’re asking me to “seriously consider” isn’t why the tweet was offensive.

Let me give you a scenario. I know very little about Azerbaijan. However, I don’t act like Azerbaijan is an irrelevant non-entity I know little about or can’t locate on a map for “jokes”. Whether you can locate a country on a map or know anything about the sociopolitical climate of a country is not the issue here. There is a long, racist history of African nations being depicted in irreverent and dismissive manners, as if Africa is an unknown and uncharted place without over a billion people. Some people still think Africa is a country and will mention visiting Africa instead of an actual country or countries. Anything pertaining to Africa will reference animals and landscapes. In the event that people are mentioned, then the narrative will center on poverty, famine or war. This baggage cannot be ignored.

Here is a life tip. When people point things out that don’t sit well with or has offended them, try not to explain away the wrong and offensive behavior, no matter how rational you think you’re being. It rarely comes across well, despite your intentions. This is a time for you to listen, take everything in, try to understand and then reflect. It is not a time to retort and explain. Nothing you said are things we don’t already know. Was that supposed to be educational? Westerners aren’t bothered to know about Africans, news at 11.

Here is why your explanation is off-putting. If someone has a problem with how they are constantly being depicted and spoken about, be it with “jokes”, or anything else, it’s not really prudent to retort with something along the lines of “Well, I know it sucks how we sometimes describe you, but the reason we describe you in such a terrible manner is because we have no reason to know anything about you whatsoever. It’s not that you’re unimportant or anything, we just aren’t bothered to know things. We have no reason to know things outside of the US, Canada, Mexico, England, Germany, Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan, China, both Koreas, and wherever the latest natural disaster is.” - Gee, thanks.

I also find it curious that your last 2 sentences say “It’s not to belittle anyone group or persons. It’s just.. blinders.” Right, because someone “joking” about how it took them longer to locate Ghana on a map than their country scoring a goal is not belittling at all. It’s downright uplifting and empowering. Ghanaians should be beaming with pride and they should feel like giants after reading that. How could that tweet be anything else but belittling?

If this is a case of blinders, then people need to open their eyes. Going through life with blinders on sounds terrible. Especially when in this case, those blinders are voluntary. They don’t have to be on. People can take them off if they want to.

Anyway, this has little to do with differing opinions or ignorant people making “jokes” at the expense of Africans. This is more about Africans asserting themselves and not taking BS lying down. We’ve been the butt of cheap jokes for far too long. I’m well beyond the point of reforming the ignorant. That’s not my job. We shouldn’t have to beg people to recognize our humanity. These “jokes” are about minimizing us, and by us I mean Africans collectively. Now whether the joke tellers or people who think these jokes are not a big deal get that is another matter entirely. They’re going to do what they’re going to do. If I have to explain why our existence is not a punchline, then I know I’m dealing with a person who has an empathy chip missing.

What I care about are the negative and harmful messages we imbibe about ourselves as Africans and how we can combat that. When there are systems in place that keep making us feel little and less than, the vulnerable and impressionable among us will start to believe it. Dingbats like Ellen and others who continue to employ this tired and antiquated trope of “unknown Africa” are the least of my concerns. They are always coddled. I know that their ignorance will always be explained away, no matter how inconsiderate, egregious, distasteful and unnecessary it is. Someone will swoop in to rescue them or explain away their behavior, instead of rightfully chastising them and taking them to task. That’s the thing, the privileged and powerful are always rescued after doing wrong, while the vulnerable and marginalized are left hanging. They remain the punchline of the joke, forever to be victimized for hilarity or whatever else the powerful want to use them for. We’re the meat in their grinder.

It truly will be a new day whenever people collectively come together and say something is wrong, fullstop; and then leave it at that. Imagine no one explaining the rationale of entire societies dismissing you, as if there is a reasonable explanation for that. Not knowing where a country is on a map does not explain this attitude. You don’t have to be a master of geography to be a decent human being.

Westerners don’t come out of the womb with an irreverence for all things Africa. This is learned behavior. It is the blueprint of white supremacy to not value Africa and Africans. Western societies are built entirely on this. My goal is to make sure fellow Africans don’t adopt mentalities that are self-hating and corrosive. I focus on the children.

I have 3 nieces and 3 nephews and they have to hear garbage jokes that deride Africans all the time and they are constantly made to feel less than for simply existing. From their beautiful names to everything else that identifies them as being ‘African’ children. It’s a constant battle having to tell them that we are worthy when the outside world tells them we are not. My friend’s mom was reduced to tears when she found out that her daughter didn’t want her to come to a Parent Teacher Association meeting because she didn’t want to be seen with her mom wearing traditional clothes and because she has a heavy Nigerian (Igbo) accent. Now ask yourself what kind of environment would make a child feel ashamed of their own mother wearing her beautiful traditional clothes and the way she speaks. It’s an environment that makes you and your people feel less than and that is routinely dismissive of your identities. It’s an environment that has you as the punchline for jokes and that refuses to acknowledge your existence and humanity. There is always something to make us feel less than. From mean spirited attacks to “jokes”. From being called “African Booty Scratcher” to beloved comics using their broad platforms to make insensitive jokes and to sometimes outright insult us.

This is why we must value, love and support ourselves. No one else will. Part of this process is not accepting being the constant punchline for ignorant jokes. I see far too many Africans putting up with and going along with this nonsense. I want to tell them that it’s not okay to be complacent about your own derision for the sake of fitting in. Speak up about it. If someone has a problem with that, then they don’t need to be in your life.

Keep pushing back. Don’t shut up. Don’t take it.

Before even read your response, the section that is in bold is exactly what I was thinking about when I intended to respond to that person’s comment. There’s a reason why I made mention of Marlon Wayans, it was to note that these kinds of jokes aren’t one-off solitary statements, they are something of a trend that exist in a world that unjokingly support this kind of rhetoric and have real consequences. These are the kinds of things people like Ellen, Wayans and other comedians, and even companies like Delta, need to be especially aware of. To grow up and to exist in a world where you are constantly being ridiculed and reduced to insulting stereotypes is incredibly dehumanizing. 

In short: we are tired of the bullshit. It’s not funny. Never was, never will be.

Oh and, Atane for president!

I agree that Africa and Africans should not be derided by the West. Kudos for defending your humanity.

dynamicafrica

dynamicafrica:

Found whilst going through my bookmarked links, I don’t recall how I came about Pikolinos and Olivia Palermo collaboration egregiously and lazily titled ‘Maasai Project’, but after reading through the website’s description and looking at the horribly styled safari and animal print lookbook featuring Palermo and Kikanae Ole Pere (or “William as he is known in the western world" - their words not mine), a Maasai community leader, I am sorry I ever stumbled upon this sight.

Pikolinos, a global shoe brand based in Spain, has employed Palermo as their ambassador for their Maasai Project - a sustainable fashion initiative that has tasked itself with improving the lives of Maasai people. A project that they claim has ‘sowed the seed of hope in the heart of Africa’.

Yes, because before there were white Europeans, hopelessness and despair was the order of the day in deep dark Africa and we were incapable of living fruitful and rewarding lives. Oh and, here’s some news: Kenya is the ‘heart of Africa’ (who the hell comes up with these ridiculous labels?!).

Aside from white saviourism, Pikolinos doesn’t give much reason for their particular interest in Maasai people and culture. However, foreigners and fashion brands seem to have a particular obsession with Maasai and Samburu aesthetics - from J. Crew and Louis Vuitton, to Emilio Pucci and Thakoon, so this is really nothing new. Then there are campaigns such as these that just don’t make sense on any level.

False claims of empowerment are instead rebranded with neo-colonialist imagery and statements that completely strip away any agency from the Maasai people.

This is not a stab at sustainable fashion but rather at the type of rhetoric and imagery that mars efforts that might otherwise be a step in a more positive direction.

It’s clear that not everyone’s read or heard of Binyavanga Wainaina’s ‘How Not to Write About Africa’.

This is the 21st century version of European art that makes African descent people “accessories” that amplify European and white supremacy. We haven’t come far enough from the situation depicted in Amma Asante’s “Belle.”

dynamicafrica
dynamicafrica:

@DYNAMICAFRICA PRESENTS: A Conversation on Inter-Cultural African Relationships.
You say sadza, I say pounded yam.I say friend plantain, you say matoke. Nyama choma vs suya.
Colonisation has defined and re-shaped so much of recent African history. One of its lasting legacies is the formation of nations that did not exist as a singular entity, both geographically and culturally, prior to the carving up of the continent by western European powers. But even with these new countries that many in my generation were born into, with passports, flags, anthems and other features of national identity and unity already formed, there exists certain levels of disconnect in today’s Africa not only between ethnic groups that share the same country, but between one African to the next, and sometimes, one African region to another. Where Pan-Africanism once promised a future of unity amongst Africans, many of us still don’t know much about our neighbours or travel to each others countries, let alone find ourselves in intimate relationships that transcend national and regional boundaries - both at home and in the diaspora. 
Over time, a mixture of colonial and Pan-Africanist rhetoric, each with different objectives, have led to both foreigners and Africans using unspecific terms such as ‘African culture’ or ‘African tradition’ that cloud and fail to recognize our important differences. Differences that need to be acknowledged in order for us to better understand each other and forge better relationships necessary for unified African progress.
Having lived in several African countries and cities that are home to multiple ethnic groups and African nationalities, it has always been both a pleasure and privilege forming bonds with people that represent various parts of the continent. Whilst friendships have never been too difficult to establish, romantic relationships between either different ethnic groups and nationalities are not always so easily facilitated or accepted. As a Yoruba woman, I’ve heard things said about not marrying people from other ethnic groups. As a Nigerian, I’ve also been warned by others about not marrying those who are non-West African, non-Anglophone, etc. Friends have even told me of parents who would rather their children marry someone of a different race than an African from another ethnic group or country.
In a continent as diverse as Africa, with most countries being home to several different ethnic groups, how do we navigate the often taboo subject of intercultural African dating? Where nationalism is strong enough to at times leave multi-ethnic unions unchallenged, what of those relationships that see people of different nationalities - and even from different - unions come together? And where those relationships are accepted, what positive outcomes are yielded, and challenges to those involved in such unions face? 
As someone who is currently in such a relationship, I’ll definitely be bringing a personal perspective to the conversation.
Join us at Dynamic Africa on twitter on Friday May 23rd, 2014, from 12pm CAT onwards!

What a great topic. So often intercultural dialogue in the States is restricted to a black/white paradigm.

dynamicafrica:

@DYNAMICAFRICA PRESENTS: A Conversation on Inter-Cultural African Relationships.

You say sadza, I say pounded yam.
I say friend plantain, you say matoke.
Nyama choma vs suya.

Colonisation has defined and re-shaped so much of recent African history. One of its lasting legacies is the formation of nations that did not exist as a singular entity, both geographically and culturally, prior to the carving up of the continent by western European powers. But even with these new countries that many in my generation were born into, with passports, flags, anthems and other features of national identity and unity already formed, there exists certain levels of disconnect in today’s Africa not only between ethnic groups that share the same country, but between one African to the next, and sometimes, one African region to another. Where Pan-Africanism once promised a future of unity amongst Africans, many of us still don’t know much about our neighbours or travel to each others countries, let alone find ourselves in intimate relationships that transcend national and regional boundaries - both at home and in the diaspora.

Over time, a mixture of colonial and Pan-Africanist rhetoric, each with different objectives, have led to both foreigners and Africans using unspecific terms such as ‘African culture’ or ‘African tradition’ that cloud and fail to recognize our important differences. Differences that need to be acknowledged in order for us to better understand each other and forge better relationships necessary for unified African progress.

Having lived in several African countries and cities that are home to multiple ethnic groups and African nationalities, it has always been both a pleasure and privilege forming bonds with people that represent various parts of the continent. Whilst friendships have never been too difficult to establish, romantic relationships between either different ethnic groups and nationalities are not always so easily facilitated or accepted. As a Yoruba woman, I’ve heard things said about not marrying people from other ethnic groups. As a Nigerian, I’ve also been warned by others about not marrying those who are non-West African, non-Anglophone, etc. Friends have even told me of parents who would rather their children marry someone of a different race than an African from another ethnic group or country.

In a continent as diverse as Africa, with most countries being home to several different ethnic groups, how do we navigate the often taboo subject of intercultural African dating? Where nationalism is strong enough to at times leave multi-ethnic unions unchallenged, what of those relationships that see people of different nationalities - and even from different - unions come together? And where those relationships are accepted, what positive outcomes are yielded, and challenges to those involved in such unions face?

As someone who is currently in such a relationship, I’ll definitely be bringing a personal perspective to the conversation.

Join us at Dynamic Africa on twitter on Friday May 23rd, 2014, from 12pm CAT onwards!

What a great topic. So often intercultural dialogue in the States is restricted to a black/white paradigm.

dynamicafrica
dynamicafrica:

Tourism fuels child prostitution in Kenya.
Whilst both prostitution and sex with minors is illegal in Kenya, much of this illicit trade happens in public spaces. According to the testimonies from both a child sex worker and a man who arranges the meetings between white European tourists and these minors, most of the men come from Italy and are aged between 50-80 years old. Furthermore, bestiality seems to be a common feature in this illicit industry.
As the BBC Anne Soy reports from the coastal city of Malindi, whilst small scale efforts are being made to tackle these horrific activities where children as young as twelve are being lured into performing disturbing sexual acts with tourists, finding the perpetrators and convicted them is an incredibly difficult task.
Another form of sex trafficking that occurs on the beaches of Kenya between older European tourists and locals, this time between Sugar mamas and young men, was portrayed in the film Paradise Love.
Listen to the full report here.

The commodification of human beings continues unfortunately.

dynamicafrica:

Tourism fuels child prostitution in Kenya.

Whilst both prostitution and sex with minors is illegal in Kenya, much of this illicit trade happens in public spaces. According to the testimonies from both a child sex worker and a man who arranges the meetings between white European tourists and these minors, most of the men come from Italy and are aged between 50-80 years old. Furthermore, bestiality seems to be a common feature in this illicit industry.

As the BBC Anne Soy reports from the coastal city of Malindi, whilst small scale efforts are being made to tackle these horrific activities where children as young as twelve are being lured into performing disturbing sexual acts with tourists, finding the perpetrators and convicted them is an incredibly difficult task.

Another form of sex trafficking that occurs on the beaches of Kenya between older European tourists and locals, this time between Sugar mamas and young men, was portrayed in the film Paradise Love.

Listen to the full report here.

The commodification of human beings continues unfortunately.