A community-oriented art & graphic design collective. We make graphic apparel, hand-crafted accessories and produce events. And most importantly, spew randomness about important and non-important topics.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Expression: Africa + Me

One3snapshot makes this shirt. It brings about mixed feelings. What is my Mother-tongue? Do I have a choice in being able to speak it? Read on to see how things could get a little mixed up!

I LOVE meeting other Africans. I have this fantasy of visiting other African countries for at least 2weeks to- # months at a time per country, and giving myself up to total submersion of my fetishized appetite for their dance, music, language & food. I'll totally be that Anglo person that I criticize all the time. If you know anything about me, you'll know that I have this ongoing far away obsession relationship with Congolese, Cameroonian, Ivorian dance and music. And i think it's the ultimate shame that I've been to various countries around the world, but not one other African country asides from Nigeria.

And now I'm beginning to have a mild obsession with the Caribbean and Latin America...and South Asia...and...Sigh.

Of course probably I could drop everything and figure out how to back pack all around the world, or I could work my way up the food chain like I'm supposed to, and put myself in positions that make me go around the world. But until then...

I LOVE meeting people and having friends from other ethnic backgrounds in my life. Being culturally 'un-diversified' makes me itch. I miss my first year of college, where I was in a school that drew a nice pool of international students that had a presence and hung out with each other while still navigating the course of American college life. That was a great exposure to other Africans, but also other countries where I was like "you said WHAT?, that's a country? oh cool, I didn't know that. And you name is what? Lol. (*sorry too much flash-backing).

All this to say

The other day I met my new eye doctor for the rest of my life... She's South African. If you ask her. If you were to look at her and say what she 'is' you would call her Indian. At least that's what I thought until she schooled me:
I also learned something new: Indians where brought to South Africa as slaves. So there are a lot of people just like her, whose GRANDparents even don't identify with India as home, and have never even been there. Whoa! I don't know why this tripped me out, I guess typically (from US point of view) when presented with the 'displacement' of people, I think US or Europe, and commonly with Africans/Blacks, but in the context of like that's all I've always known it to be. I've understood that they are African Americans, African Europeans? and Caribbeans. Nobody is tripping out like WHOA Africans who are not really Africans, and have never been to Africa! You just know that's how it is...

But mostly the other thing that stood out to me was her giving me short versions of Apartheid & the life around the time Nelson Mandela was locked up. It was so trippy, 'cos sometimes you don't really understand these issues that happen in far far away lands. You think oh this sucks, oh it happened a 'long' time ago, to those people over there. And it was a trip that my eye doctor had lived during the times of Apartheid and was standing there telling me about it. From that point it was kinda hard to only fantasize anymore. I was simply stunned.

So now what is HER Mother-tongue?  She speaks Afrikaans because that's what they were forced to speak, she doesn't know any Indian languages, neither does her Mother. One African/Black American lady said to me the other day in response to the shirt above, "But I don't know my Mother-tongue, it was stripped from us!"

My answer: if you're fortunate to be in anyway to be exposed to your Mother-tongue, speak it!


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