Categorie archief: Regio Afrika

“I belong in Africa”: African-Americans going ‘home’

Sankofa. Image: Damiyr Saleem Studios

Sankofa. Image: Damiyr Saleem Studios

By Marije Maliepaard        The Ghanaian ethnic group of Akan is (among other aspects) known for their Adinkra symbols. Symbols that represent concepts and are often connected to proverbs. They are used in African fabrics, clothes and pottery and nowadays also in logo’s, advertisements and wall paintings. One of their symbols of a bird stretching back to get an egg, named Sankofa, has become an important representation for Africans in the diaspora. The combination of the symbol and the associated proverb ‘se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi’, which translates to ‘it is not wrong to go back for something you have forgotten’ embodies precisely what returned African-Americans feel: a desire to return home, to the soil of where their ancestors were taken from.

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Stable Instability: renewed turmoil in Ethiopia (part 2)

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Qilinto prison burning, Addis Ababa 3 September 2016.  Opposition voices state that not the fire but the prison guards killed more than 60 inmates, most of them political prisoners fleeing and trying to reach safety. © Ethiogrio

(This is the second part of an earlier published article)

By Jan Abbink        Next to the demands for more economic rights and protection, the wider background factors of the spreading protests were: mounting dissatisfaction with authoritarian party politics, the interfering presence of party cadres in local life, the lack of accountability of the government, unresolved land allocation issues, lack of proper compensation for those removed from the land, the dismantling of civil society organizations in the last decade, the lack of political and civic freedoms, and the lack of a well-working justice system (as people say, one cannot really bring complaints against the government and get one’s right in the courts).

There is also a longer-term social dynamic involved: large groups of youth are unemployed, and there is still a large urban underclass that is often excluded from high school or vocational education and from jobs. New cultural-political youth movements – in both the classical political sphere as well as in the cultural domain – are seen with suspicion by the government and under close scrutiny. Also, emerging local ethnic elites in the various regional states have been cautiously putting forward new demands – and, paradoxically, their emergence and assertiveness is an achievement of the ‘ethnic politics’ of empowerment that the Ethiopian ruling party and government instituted since 1991 and which has led to many smaller ethnic groups getting ‘special districts’. The ethno-regional rivalry is now also seen in the serious tensions within the ruling party, where the four branches, the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO), the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) and the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) are not always in agreement with the dominant Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).  Lees verder

Stable instability: renewed turmoil in Ethiopia (part 1)

qilinto-burning1By Jan Abbink    Ethiopia in 2016 is seeing a new round of major turmoil: massive protests and demonstrations have led to severe state repression, with more than 600 people killed by security forces, thousands injured, and tens of thousands arrested (as of September 2016). The story gets somewhat repetitive, as many rounds of political and ‘ethnic’ clashes have occurred in the country since 1991 when the current regime took power.

This time, the protests of masses of unarmed students, youths, peasants and others started peaceful – i.e. there was no agenda of armed insurrection ‘fed by diaspora Ethiopians and foreigners’, as the Ethiopian government likes to assert. But early this month, the protests turned into a full-blown revolt, notably in the northern Amhara Region, populated largely by Amharic-speaking people that have felt regionally and politically marginalized for many years. Lees verder

Pregnancies, high-school drop-outs and personal struggles: The joys of anthropological fieldwork

DSC_0327By Laetitia Simorangkir     Now that I completed my thesis (on care arrangements in South African communities), I can really say that I love anthropology and do research. But there were times I did not like my work at all. In this blog I will explain why.

“Naoko told me that Salma had come to tell her that she was pregnant. Although the women were not related, Naoko seemed to take a parental-role towards Salma.” A fellow student, who reviewed the draft of my thesis, commented on this statement saying that I should explain more about the parent-child relationship: “Don’t leave it end so flatly. I want to hear what happens between them!”. When rereading my field diary, looking for more notes on these women, I realized I did not have that much information about them. And soon I remembered why. Lees verder

African-Americans returning to Ghana: A photo blog

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Plaque on the wall of the W.E.B Du Bois Museum

By Marije Maliepaard            My Master’s research is about African-Americans who return to Ghana after their ancestors got enslaved and brought to the Americas during the slave trade. My research group themselves have not physically lived in Africa before but they do have the feeling they return. A famous African-American and Pan-Africanist who also returned was W.E.B. Du Bois. He was one of the founders of the American civil rights organization for ‘colored’ people, NAACP. Eventually, he settled in Accra, Ghana, but passed away three years later. He is buried next to his former house, which is now turned into a museum. Lees verder

“Playing gives experience” – a fieldwork photo blog

IMG_2368By Tessa Gruijs            For my Master’s research I went to Ghana. In cooperation with a local NGO I got access to a couple of primary schools. There I interviewed and observed many teachers about their experiences with the work of this NGO and their perspectives on (improving) the quality of education.

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The reality of race: fieldwork experiences from Ghana

Millicent, one of the staff members of the hostel where I stayed, and I.

By Marije Maliepaard     Recently my Colombian friend and I were talking about being white in a country like Ghana. I told him I had never been aware of my ‘whiteness’ until I got to Ghana. In reply he said “of course you weren’t aware, you are part of the majority in your country”.

We silently continued our walk along the main road in Accra as I pondered his comment. I broke the silence and said, “It’s not only me being part of the majority but I just don’t see it. I don’t recognize people as being black or white.” He firmly said: “That can’t be true, no one is colorblind! Do you see those people approaching us? You see they are a woman and a man, you also see if someone is black or white.” I thought about it and said: “I don’t register it all the time, when I see people I don’t consciously think that is a man or a woman, or that person is black or white.” He finally saw my point which made me happy because I was starting to think that maybe my views on this differ from the view of others. Lees verder