dynamicafrica:

DYNAMIC AFRICANS: Senegal with Amy Sall.

Amy Sall is not a hired travel photographer, nor is she a photojournalist on assignment. Yet, her images of her recent trip to Senegal are far more moving, far more real, far richer and possess more authenticity than any embedded journalist could ever attempt to capture. The difference between Amy Sall and other photo amateurs or professionals? Her attachment to Senegal is personal. She’s a first-generation American, born and bred, but culturally, Senegal has never been far away. Additionally, she’s unburdened with the need or pressure to tell a specific kind of story. The narrative was a story to be told along the way, along her path of self-discovery.

For these reasons, and more, I fell in love with her posts on instagram as she visually documented her emotional visit to a place that isn’t quite home, but isn’t a foreign country as well. Through the story she creates with her images, Amy’s photo-documentation illustrates the need for Africans to tell their own stories through any and whatever medium is at their disposal.

Here’s my interview with Amy Sall as we discussed the emotional journey of her multicultural upbringing:

In about five sentences or less, briefly tell us a little about yourself. Who is Amy Sall? How would you introduce and define yourself to those who don’t know you?

I am a 23-year old, first generation Senegalese-American, born and bred in New York City, trying to navigate my life with my best foot forward, while staying true to my values. I think in all aspects of my life, there’s the inherent nexus of integrity, selflessness, and grit. What I do and who I am are intrinsically linked.

Currently, I’m a Masters Candidate in Human Rights at Columbia University, focusing on children’s rights and youth issues in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the past, I’ve worked within a few sectors of fashion where I’ve had experience at Vogue, written for Lurve Magazine, and worked for Rick Owens to name a few.

You’re first generation Senegalese-American, born and raised in the US. What was your experience growing up being a part of two very distinct cultures? 

It was interesting, but not easy, growing up between two cultures. It’s not the easiest experience to sift through because it’s quite layered and muddled with all sorts of intricacies. I can say that there were times where my “Africaness” and my “Americaness” had points of contention. I was born only a year after my parents came to the states, so I grew up in a very culturally Senegalese home. Everything in our home was inherently Senegalese, from the food, to the music, to how daily life was constructed.

However, once I stepped outside my home, I was confronted, daily, with the fact that even though I am, in the literal sense of the word, African-American, I did not fit in with the African-American kids. They saw me as other. They saw me as African. They saw me as a dark African. So, it was difficult to reconcile that tension between two cultures as a child. My being rejected by my classmates (and when you are a child, the approval of your peers means everything) led to the resentment and disavowal of my culture and dark skin.

My childhood in that regard was tricky, and it unfortunately caused some damage during my transition into adolescence. There eventually came a point when I just didn’t care about what people thought, and my parents had a heavy had in getting me to that point. Straddling the line between two cultures became easier, and eventually something I thought less about. The biggest relief was ridding the shame I felt toward my “Africanness” as a child. Being African is absolutely the most beautiful thing to me.

On your blog, you mention that you hadn’t been back to Senegal in ten years. What prompted your visit back home? What was the experience like?

What prompted me to go to Senegal was simply realizing that I no longer had the excuse not to go. The last time I was there, I was 13 or 14. The fact that I was approaching the ten-year mark of not being in Senegal was incredibly important and symbolic to me. I decided that I wouldn’t let another year pass without going to Senegal. The possibility of my grandmother’s dying without a chance to see them again started to weigh heavily on me.

Both my grandfathers died when I was younger. One of them I’ve only seen once, the other I’ve seen twice. I regret that I wasn’t able to get to know my grandfathers. The reasons for the 10- year gap vary, but I will attribute them to the unfortunate ills of migration. It wasn’t always easy for my parents to take my siblings and I to Senegal often. Those opportunities did not always present themselves. It’s a sad realization to know that you can’t go home and see your family as often as you would like to, for reasons beyond your control.

So I decided, now that I’m older, nothing was to stop me from going back home and seeing my family. I wanted to get closer to my family, especially with my grandmothers, and develop a real relationship. I wanted to deepen my sense of self and rediscover my roots. It was also important for me to make this trip so that I could see the socio-economic issues of the country with my own eyes, especially as they pertain to children and youth. Much of my graduate research is centered particularly on Senegal, so being on the ground was necessary for the work I’m doing academically, and aim to do professionally.

During your trip back to Senegal you visually documented your stay there by taking and sharing photos on instagram. Was this something you decided before travelling, or was it done on more of a whim? 

I definitely knew I wanted many photos to have as keepsakes, but there were many times where I didn’t bring a camera with me because I just wanted to truly feel Senegal and be immersed in it. When I did have my camera, all I was trying to do was simply capture the country in the truest way possible. I did not want to glamorize or romanticize Senegal. It is an incredibly beautiful, rich and vibrant country, with beautiful people, however there are very real problems that I felt were not to be excluded.  I wanted to share a holistic view of Senegal, from the colors of Gorée to the talibés begging in the streets.

You’ve been blogging for quite some time now so you’re no stranger to sharing bits and pieces of your life online, something I enjoy doing myself. How important was it for you to share this part of your personal life online? How has the response been?

I like the idea that with the Internet, I can carve a space for myself, curate it however I please, engage in a dialogue, and maybe even teach someone something new. I had no expectations when I posted my photos on social media. I was surprised that they garnered the response that they did. People really took a liking to them. I know absolutely nothing about photography. A country as beautiful as Senegal makes it quite easy to photograph. It made me happy that people were appreciating and enjoying my journey, and were able to take part in it. They were discovering Senegal as I was rediscovering it, so it became this shared experience. 

This trip was personal, but it was one that so many can relate to. I am not the only person that has been away from their home country for so long. I am not the only person that hasn’t seen their aunts and uncles in years, or hasn’t hugged their grandmothers in a long time. As personal as this experience was, there were those who were able to connect to it on varying levels. That is what probably surprised me the most, because I didn’t think sharing my trip through these photos could have that effect. I realize that sharing them was much bigger than me, and it was much bigger than a series of Instagram posts. I am really humbled by that. I don’t care about having a large number of followers because I don’t seek validation through that kind of stuff, but I value when someone can take something positive away from what I have shared, whether on the Internet or in real life.

Would you ever consider compiling and publishing your photographs and experience into a photo-book of some sort?

Working on it!

That’s faboulous! Can’t wait ‘til it’s published. Lastly, what are three words you’d use to describe Senegal?

Vibrant, beautiful, home.

Thank you so much, Amy! 

All images via Amy Sall’s instagram.
Amy Sall’s site.

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All Africa, All the time.

yagazieemezi:

Nadine Ijewere is a photographer out of London with an amazing talent for portraiture and fashion photography. She creates  beautiful environments for her work using from floral and cultural influences. I love it all.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Dedicated to the Cultural Preservation of the African Aesthetic

fairoliviarae:

NADINE IJEWERE-I

fairoliviarae:

NADINE IJEWERE-I

(Source: nadineijewere.co.uk)

Whats your swag level looking like? #AfricansinFrance #1914 #wwiafrica
wwiafrica:

Swag level at a all time high. Rice rations Marseille, France 1914

Whats your swag level looking like? #AfricansinFrance #1914 #wwiafrica

wwiafrica:

Swag level at a all time high. Rice rations Marseille, France 1914

easleyjennyd3 said: Hey, I really like your posts, You've got an awesome blog, Whats your frankly.me handle, want to interview you?

Aww thank you so much! I don’t have a frankly.me handle, should I get one? You can email me at Kathleen dot bomani at gmail dot com

artblackafrica:

Tanzanian artist Rehema Chachage (Dar es Salaam, 1987) creates video, sculptural, performance and image installations which explore the theme of gender, identity, voicelessness and alienation. She graduated in 2009 with a BFA from Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. Her artistic pieces make use of ritualization, subversion and tension, reflecting the four years she spent in South Africa as a ‘cultural foreigner’ and as a black female student in a predominantly white middle-class setting.

Mizizi/Nasaba explores the state of bereavement and the politics of gender in African society when it comes to inheritance. It consists of digital prints that document a relationship between a bereaved daughter and the text that was left behind by her deceased father—which is her only true inheritance since all material inheritance (according to beliefs in most African society) is ‘ideally’ left behind for the male subjects in the family. - Rehema Chacage on her work, pictured above.

For when you are feeling a bit unsure about the future. #onlyonMondaystho

dynamicafrica:

The World War I in Africa Project Sheds Light On An Often Forgotten Part of History.

As a student of history for all my years of secondary education, I can’t say that I never learned about World War I, the events leading up to it as well as the aftermath it had on Europe and to some extent the United States. Perhaps we never delved into it in quite as much depth as we did World War II, but even then, I’d be hard-pressed to think of time where my history teacher (bless her soul) ever mentioned the impact that the First World War had on Africa and Africans. Such a truth wouldn’t concern me if the circumstances were different; if I wasn’t at a school in an African country, if I weren’t an African myself, if I wasn’t one of five black students in a history class of over 20, if I didn’t come from a country that was colonized by the British (who, as history goes, love war).

But all these things were and still are a part of who I am, and it is for these reasons – and so many more, that the World War I in Africa project is incredibly important learning for me. Even beyond the personal connection of history and heritage, the ignorance of many to the involvement of Africans in World War I and the integral roles the played speak to a much broader concern of the omission and reduction of black people and Africans in many important events in Western history.

It’s been 100 years since the First World War began. 100 years since the first shot fired by British troops occurred in what is today known as Togo, on August 7th, 1914. 100 years gone by and still, the world is yet to actively include and universally commemorate the lives of the estimated two million Africans who in some way contributed to the efforts of their colonial empires during this bitter war of the 1910s. World War I was indeed what its title refers to it as – a war that saw involvement on a global scale.

From the Gold Coast to German East Africa, Algeria to the southernmost tip of Africa, a new initiative is bringing to light the forgotten ways in which European politics brought the Great War to African homes. Through the efforts of World War I in Africa project, we are provided with a multimedia database that both highlights and archives the ways in which African lives were affected by a war they had no agency in. Because what happens in Africa should be told around the world.

World War I in Africa.

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And just as we have seen an unprecedented centralisation and concentration of capital globally, so we are seeing a similar process amongst development NGOs with ever larger global enterprises such as Oxfam, SCF, ActionAid, Care, World Vision, to name but a few, being formed with every larger volumes of funds. Many of these Northern aid agencies have now set up offices in Africa so as to be perceived as organisations of the South – as if geographic location changed anything. They now have the power to do deals directly with African governments and to speak on behalf of ‘civil society’. Backed with resources far exceeding those of local organisations, they are able to play the missionary role to a far greater extent than before. They offer no challenge to the neoliberal agenda – indeed, their income depends on not contesting that ideology. Instead, many of them collude with the multinationals by giving a ‘progressive’ cover to them through programmes of ‘corporate social responsibility’: for example, several Canadian NGOs have been given huge sums for social programmes such as building schools and health centres in areas where extractive industries are mining oil or other mineral resources while destroying the environment. Their silence on the role of these extractive industries is not hard to understand. If the missionaries of the past were part of the machinery of colonial domination, today’s missionaries are part of the machinery of exploitation by multinational corporations and finance capital. In that sense, then, I think the situation is worse than before.

Firoze Manji

Read more here: http://thinkingafricangos.blogspot.ca/2014/08/the-missionary-position-ngos-and.html

It was the development NGOs, heavily funded by the aid agencies, that moved in to privatise social welfare, to provide the sweetener for neoliberalism, to occupy the mental universe by telling the neo-colonised that development, not emancipation, was what they needed, that the key task was ‘fighting poverty’ not fighting the looting that was the principle feature of neoliberalism. And in so doing, they play the vital service to capital of depoliticising poverty. For them the problem is ‘poverty’, not the political and economic processes that results in mass pauperisation. They perform this role much as the missionaries of the past did: by eliminating any reference to history. People are just poor. There is no question of explaining how they became poor. It is the ‘native condition’. In the past the native was uncivilised. Today, they are judged to be under-developed.

wwiafrica:

A rarity among rarities: a photo of a Senegalese tirailleur (sharpshooter) with woman and child in Marseille, France. 1914.
Find out more about World War I in Africa.

wwiafrica:

A rarity among rarities: a photo of a Senegalese tirailleur (sharpshooter) with woman and child in Marseille, France. 1914.

Find out more about World War I in Africa.

Remembering the East Africa campaign like it was

wwiafrica:

Among World War I campaigns, the East African one was the longest of all: as the armistice was being signed in Europe on November, 11th 1918, the last of the German forces were still fighting their British counterparts. Indeed the general who led them only surrendered two weeks later, on November, 25th 1918.

But who knows any of this, whether in America, in Europe or indeed in Africa? As the world commemorates the Centenary of the Great War, the African side of this story remains a footnote, despite huge losses of human lives and major consequences for the future of the African continent.

thelastedition:

C R I M S O N
Jeneil Williams by Julia Noni for Vogue Deutsch
Red palm leaves - unknown

thelastedition:

C R I M S O N

Jeneil Williams by Julia Noni for Vogue Deutsch

Red palm leaves - unknown

Introducing the #WWIAfrica project

"The story of Africans’ involvement in the Great War is unheard of outside of academia, and thus remains to be told: the tens of thousands of African lives lost at home and abroad, defending the interests of foreign powers and the lives of complete strangers; the forced recruitment of African soldiers to fight Europe’s war, and of African workers to replace the labour force gone to the front; the battles between colonies pitting Africans against each other on their own soil; the reshaping of Africa’s borders and inner workings after the war under new rulers."

(Source: wwiafrica)