Sunday, 22 February 2009

What it means to be an African (TV interview)

Today, I did a phone-in guest interview on VoxAfrica TV's "Shoot the Messenger" dialogue on what it means to be an African.  I believe it will be published as a video recording on 

Apart from my poem, "I Am An African" - which you can see on my website, here are some of the pieces from Ben Okri and Thabo Mbeki that I quoted: 

Ben Okri – Mental Fight

The world is not made of labels. The world, from now on, will be made through the mind. Through great dreaming, great loving and masterly application.

Thabo Mbeki – I Am An African speech (1996)

I owe my being to the Khoi and the San whose desolate souls haunt the great expanses of the beautiful Cape

I am formed of the migrants who left Europe to find a new home on our native land. Whatever their own actions, they remain still, part of me.

In my veins courses the blood of the Malay slaves who came from the East. I am the grandchild who lays fresh flowers on the Boer graves at St Helena and the Bahamas.

I come of those who were transported from India and China, whose being resided in the fact, solely, that they were able to provide physical labour, who taught me that we could both be at home and be foreign.

Being part of all these people, and in the knowledge that none dare contest that assertion, I shall claim that - I am an African.

Ben Okri – A Way of Being Free

The fact is that all organic things of single strain have short histories. Obsessions about purity of blood have wiped out empires.

We are all of us mixtures, and our roots are fed from diverse and forgotten places. The Yorubas of Nigeria trace their origins to the Middle East; some anthropologists claim that the real aborigines of Africa are the Bushmen of the Kalahari … the ancient Egyptians were black as well as dun-coloured.

This is the history of bodies. The histories of civilizations is even more eclectic.

My poem is on:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

feeling this