Afro-Rebel (Or Why I am not an Afropolitan)

Afro-Rebel (Or Why I am not an Afropolitan)

Black Girl Dancing at Lughnasa

Emma Dabiri, Teaching Fellow
Africa Department, School of African and Oriental Studies, London
Visual Sociology Ph.D. Researcher, Goldsmiths University of London

The following is from a discussion I recently took part in ‘Fantasy or Reality? Afropolitan Narratives of the 21st Century’ as part of the Africa Writes 2013 Festival. I was joined on the panel by Minna Salami and Nana Ocran, and the Chair was Professor Paul Gilroy.

When I first heard Afropolitan I was excited. I am always looking for language that expresses my position as an Irish/Nigerian woman who is deeply connected to her Nigerianess. I’d rather refrain as describing myself as half anything, and I detest the word mixed-race. I thought perhaps Afropolitan presented an alternative to this terminology and interestingly, positioned me with others through a shared cultural and aesthetic leaning rather than a perceived racial classification. Further it identified that you could be black or African without having to subscribe to the depressingly limited identities widely perceived as being authentic.

The enduring insights of Afropolitanism as interpreted by Mdembe, should be its promise of vacating the seduction of pernicious racialised thinking, its recognition of African identities as fluid, and the notion that the African past is characterised by mixing, blending and superimposing. In opposition to custom, Mdembe insists the idea of ‘tradition’ never really existed and reminds us there is a pre-colonial African modernity that has not been taken into account in contemporary creativity.

As Minna Salami writes on her blog Africans should be as free to have multiple subcultures as anyone else but the problem with Afropolitism to me is that that the insights on race, modernity and identity appear to be increasingly sidelined in sacrifice to the consumerism Mdembe also identifies as part of the Afropolitan assemblage. The dominance of fashion and lifestyle in Afropolitanism is worthy of note due to the relationship between these industries, consumption and consumerism…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,