Friday, 7 September 2012

Africa light - bright - or right?

Another white african, the photo communicator Pernille Bærentsen has written a review of Afrikablog . She calls it Africa light. They, Afrikablog, claim to do Africa right as opposed to U-landsnyt? We don't really know. Many have worked with development, and we wanted to make Africa bright. To put Africa in the spot light, so we could see Africa. But enlightenment is also a biased perspective. I prefere the darkness. The fuggy dust over the desert. Blurry contours of storytelling. Here is no right and wrong, nor truth or lies. Only billions of stories that will fuck with your analytic worldview. None of the stories seem to make any sense, but they are, what they are – stories, perspectives of life, footsteps of experience, traces and marks – all equally important for crasping the world we live in.
In development work we believed that sending volunteers to Africa would make a difference and change our understanding of Africa. A similar idea seem to have influenced Afrikablog. They are planning a reportage travel to Uganda, where they during 8 weeks will produce an issue of the online magasin. The travel is simultaneously a workshop in journalism.

During 10 years I have been on & off in East Africa. First living and working in Uganda, later being back and fourth many times between Denmark or Europa and Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. It is not a closed chapter, on the contrary, it is a life long – I will not say commitment, but rather a ritual. Something I do without thinking, as an automatic response. The people I met who understood a little bit of what is going on in Africa were those who either lived in Africa all their lives or kept coming to Africa throughout their lives. There is no other way of understanding a continent, no short cuts to comprehension. The volunteers never really understood anything. They came and for the most parts they never return. The only cultural interaction they had were by having a local sex partner for a while. It is very hard for me to believe why reportage travels arranged by Afrikablog would be very much different. Therefore the destiny of Afrikablog will probably be Africa light, but if you only do it light, why would you do it at all?

On my part I write my simple and humble poetry and feel satisfied enough – to rephrase some of the extraordnary world literature I was so lucky to be able to read under the strong sun of equator. My prayer to you is that you will go to Africa and thereby loose your European worldview so it cannot be restored and continue to go back just to see the people you have come to know. Though be aware that you will feel lost forever having no heritage and doomed to live in diaspora whereever you are, but it is the only answer I can give to challenge our colonial identities.