Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Shuffering and Shmiling - interpretations

When my African Caribbean partner was working on a play on race in South Africa with a white South African artist, I suggested there was room in the play for Fela Kuti's tune "Shuffering and Shmiling". 

The classic and poignant line being "You Africans listen to me as Africans. You non-Africans listen to me with open minds."
I felt it held true with the point of the play being about race, and that Africans, or those of the African diaspora, are in the position to be able to talk and explain about race, whereas Europeans need only to listen, and as Fela said, with open minds.

I also maintained that the "black" majority population in South Africa should be referred to as Africans, and the "white" population as Europeans. I have been challenged on that point in South Africa and back in London. I still hold true to this, and if white people born and raised in South Africa consider themselves African, why are they so desperate to hold onto a European culture and way of living? In Europe of course, the expectation is on migrants to assimilate into European culture.

This last point that there is such a thing as a white African, makes me concerned that they may have chosen to hear Fela Kuti's line on the assumption that they themselves are African, and that my partner (of African Caribbean descent living in the UK) will have been construed as the European. 

If so, that's a pretty concerning spin on the whole intention.... but then explains how most whites really don't get what's going on around them, and choose to selectively listen....And then concentrate on what's in their own minds anyway.

Perceptions are everything. But there is also a reality. And it's not Europeans that are sucking on it. When all things are equal in the world, I won't need to have this discussion. 

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