My most recent trip to Uganda earlier this year left me feeling somewhat perplexed, on the lead up I confidently and loudly proclaimed my excitement about going ‘home’, you know, back to the motherland…going back to my roots so to speak. Yet, despite having the time of my life, I often found myself feeling unfamiliar and displaced in my so-called ‘home’. Towards the end of my stay, despite feeling ravenous to reacquaint myself with British culture, I wasn’t so confidently nor openly proclaiming my excitement to go back to my ‘other home’, England, more specifically, London.
There was a point where I sat down, aware of my thoughts and made an attempt to articulate this feeling of displacement. Why did I feel so excited (and even at times self-righteous) about going back Africa? And HOW could I feel even more excited (and at times embarrassed) to return to a place which isn’t intrinsically my home, but in more ways than one is my ‘home’.
If wherever I lay my hat is your home, then I should say for the record that I have a wide collection of hats in my West London flat and none in the Western region of Uganda where I was born lol.
My first attempt to write about my personal experiences as an Afropean, or better known as a ‘third culture kid’ was unstructured and frankly read like a bit of a ramble. But having attended The Chop Bar on Monday night, and the screening of Restless City; it gave me the opportunity to discuss in an open and organic way across a range of cultures my thoughts about culture and cross culturalism. As a result my thoughts are more organised to frame this blog post, which I have been wanting to write for the last couple of months now.
The Chop Bar was part of a series of events being held by Diesel UK to celebrate and promote talent coming out of Africa through their creation of Studio Africa. The evening comprised of a pop up Ghanaian Restaurant, ran by the lovely and super talented Zoe, owner of Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen (and who really knows how to throw it down in the kitchen); followed by a private screening of Restless City, starring Sy Alassane, one of the nine faces of the Studio Africa campaign.
Directed by Andrew Dosunmu, Restless City vividly captures the pulsating dynamic of New York City’s pan-African community, it was a beautifully cinematic glimpse into a culture and community that is only superficially seen by indifferent New Yorkers. The film marked the third feature from African-American Film Festival Movement, activating quality black independent films with simultaneous theatrical engagements in select cities.
The films cinematography and high quality was without a doubt visually emotive, and although fundamentally a love story, I travelled into one of the afro sub-cultures of New York; ranging from the underground afro club scene, afro hair salons and boutiques, from the perspective of African born gangsters, prostitutes, musicians several many others. Feelings I associated with the movie include that of love, loss, geographical exploration, cultural displacement in addition to the emotions associated with clustered and closed communities.
Talking Afropeans and TCK (Third Culture Kids)
Following on from the film screening we had an opportunity to meet and talk to Sy Alasanne, Senegalese model and actor who played the protagonist in the movie and who plans to be a catalyst in the development of pan-African film movement. Having deliberated over the future for pan-African stories, we discussed the positive and negative aspects that the power of the Western film industry can have on developing but yet again diluting African’s stories through film. From that our dialogues ventured into a topic referred to as ‘third culture’. Third culture (also known as Third Culture Kids or Trans-cultural Kids), is a term first coined in the early 1950s by American sociologist and anthropologist Ruth Hill Useem to refer to the children/people who have spent a significant part of his/her developmental years outside their parent’s culture (such as me, and many of you).
The evening was an opportunity for us to discuss our cross-cultural encounters, and more importantly how Afropeans (in addition to the jambalaya of third culture communities) can create a platform in order to be seen and heard as an influential sub-culture among western culture.
(Me and Sy Alasanne)
(Q&A Session with Sy Alasanne)
(Me eating talking cross culturalism with DieselUK twitter winners about their experiences as Chinese and Canadians living in the UK)
On a personal level,
it’s not hard for me to build relationships with both sides of my cultures, and almost like that of a chameleon, elements of both cultures can be assimilated to an extent, but there is still a loss by not having any full ownership with any. It’s even more disheartening that the colourful symphony of that dialogue and experiences lived by myself and others hasn’t fully been explored enough through cinema, television or literature (with the exception of Pigeon English- amazing book. Read it!). In regards, to what I will be doing about this, I am developing a few ideas which are tucked neatly up my sleeve for now, but when they come into maturation I will certainly be letting you all know.
As stated my blog title, these are just my musings as an Afropean, and whether a third culture kid or not, I would be interested in hearing more of yours, so feel free to comment or drop me an email (Afroblush@gmail.com)