HOLIDAY IMAGES FROM AFRICA

Why is it that many White people, when they go to Africa, one of the points on their checklist is to go to an orphanage or a Hospital or a village school and take pictures of themselves carrying little Black children and surrounded by little African children?

If I were to come to Europe and go to an orphanage or a hospital or a village school and take and post on social media pictures of myself carrying and surrounded by little White children to whom I have no close personal connection and whose parents or guardians don‘t even know me, I would be accused of many things.

Please, White people, stop instrumentalising Black African children for the purpose of your hypocritical self-staging as supposedly benevolent world saviours. Robbing them of their privacy and dignity, objectifying them, and using them as moral ornaments with which to decorate your souls on social media. They are human beings, they are minors, and they are somebody’s children and wards.

Even if you want to donate to an orphanage or help the under-privileged, you have no right to use it as an opportunity for a foto op and PR session. I’m sure some of you also donate anonymously to orphanages in Europe and America, but you don’t afterwards troop there to pose for pictures with the children to whose welfare you are contributing. You sense, and quite rightly so, that it would be undignifying towards those children. And undignifying towards you yourselves too. Well, the same applies to Black and African children too! And the same applies with regards to them.

Please stop using them as background deco and surround sound for the accolade-seeking self-images you wish to bring back with you from Africa as your holiday trophies.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

TRAYVON

Trayvon-Martin-1

You’re walking on water
Don’t think it is land
The tide is about to turn
Your feet into sand

Signals sent out over the earth
Kill them before they grow
There is a protection Claws in our justice
For a darker tomorrow

Subliminal messages
Password more valid than passport
What is the colour of love?
Blindness is just in court

Mankind will destroy humanity
And claim to be its saviour
And cunning will mask hatred
And none shalt love thy neighbour.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

In Memory.

BEING GERMAN IS MORE THAN BEING WHITE

Being German is more than being white – as hard as this may be to grasp for someone who is fully genealogically descended from the whites of the Germanic and other European tribes. And – this is more important – also as hard as this might be to conceptualise for someone who is descended from the black tribes of the African continent. Children of migrants however, in the second and further generations, may sometimes – but not always – be in a better position to more easily perceive the self-evident and natural truth of this reality. Being German is more, deeper, then being a colour or a name. The nation has a heart, and it pulsates with the love of those who call it, intimately, Home, each in their own way; who identify with it; who carry within themselves the urge to protect it, it’s history and its values, to develop it and move it forward, to interpret it from the depths of their own personal authenticity.

One of the most incisive challenges that face people who do not seem to be fully descended from the white stock of the teutonic tribes – as impossible to measure as this may be – is to experience their German-ness being questioned, the authenticity of their citizenship being attacked, their loyalty and love for their home being subjected to scrutiny, and their sense of belonging being trampled underfoot or conditionalized. It takes many forms – be it divisive politicians who publicly try to awaken resentments against german footballers of a different background, or be it cowardly citizens who shoot on darker-skinned germans, or be it the encountering of a glass ceiling in the corporate world. Eventually it all crystallizes into experiences that make the so-called ‘german of migrant origin’ feel that he or she is systematically or instinctively excluded from certain opportunities or from deeper degrees of appreciation and acceptance, either due to distrust or dislike.

Some people react to this challenge by succumbing to the temptation of going through extra lengths to prove and justify their right of belonging, either by demanding for acceptance or struggling to be twice as good in everything. Some other people’s reaction to this subtle wall of rejection might be in turn to mirror this wall by transmitting the negative experience inwards into an exercise in self-rejection. And then there are those whose radical reaction may be a partial or even total rejection of their host nation, Germany, leading to the curious instances of children or grandchildren of migrants – in a kind of cultural trauma – suddenly reverting back to the cultural background, the seat of which their parents once left behind. This creates the impression of a desperate scramble for an illusion, because inspite of everything, they still find it hard to totally detach from Germany in form and in attitude.

If being German is then not about being white or bearing a certain type of name, what then does it entail to be German? Some will tell you it is about an ascribing to and a living of certain ‘Values’. You will hear of ‘punctuality’, ‘hardwork’, ‘tenacity’, ‘exactness’, ‘discipline’, ‘perseverance’, ‘straightforwardness’ and similar things. Unfortunately, or fortunately, it is not as simple as that. True, these values and virtues are highly priced in the german soul from time immemorial, but in truth they cannot be germanized and apportioned to only one people. They are human qualities that can be lived by all peoples who so desire, each in their own way. Conversely, within our german societies you will also find those who do not embody these but rather other characteristics – and yet they are german too. Apart from that, following this line of thinking is what often leads to the ‘herrenmenschen’ mentality, the sense of superiority over others, a poisonous inchoate emotion that carries in its heart the seed of future defeats or disappointments of those who hold this mentality. For Values are goals that are continually striven after and served, never owned and mastered.

The global mixing of races and cultures that began hundreds of years ago with the self-propulsion of white peoples and white cultures into all the corners of the earth, continues in its ramifications to press organically forward, irreversible, and keeps on surprising mankind in every new century with the challenges and demands, opportunities and mysteries, and reciprocal developments, it presents us with. And also for the German of part or full African origins, the challenge is not in trying to be like others, or in making a contrived effort to be what you already carry in your soul. For what we carry in our soul is the true essence of being German – it is our love for Germany, our deep inner connection with her, her values, history, language, nature, culture, mentality, mystery, her basic law. It is one of the many puzzles that the global dispersal of races has produced. Just as the white South African is at home there, so is the Black German here. And our most special contribution is exactly that which makes us, to some, so seemingly different: our Blackness.

We should not hide it, we should show it. We should not denounce it, we should celebrate it. We should not deny Germany our uniqueness, we should share it with her. Don’t wait for anybody to accept you as a german; you accept yourself as a german. We accept ourselves as germans. There is that beautiful saying: if no one will give you a seat at the table, bring your own chair along – and enough food for all. Sharing is learning, is refining. We have a role to play in the upholding and further upbuilding of this society, it is a duty. And what we need to accomplish that will be awakened in us by the society itself, if we are bold and innovative and refuse to allow our spirits to be broken. Thus we grow and acquire new parts, by sharing of our origin. Change is happening fast and no one knows what’s coming next, but we can be a part of it. And by claiming and asserting and living our German-ness in the process of transformation, we stop being people waiting to be accepted and acknowledged, and become part of those acknowledging and ushering in the future.

Being german is more than being a colour. It is being a type. It is being a part-bearer of Germany and Germany’s future within you. It is a love you cannot describe.

Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

Published in the August/September 2016 edition of The African Courier.