History has always held bad memories about Black people despite the many achievements they make in their respective societies on a daily basis. Moreover, this history is dominated by the Eurocentric view that only highlights the part of history that best serves the interests of this view at the expense of Black people themselves. In order to provide a diverse perspective of Black narratives, the Black Academy in partnership with ADNA for Agreement and Empowerment e.V. initiated the Black History Month meets Black Academy in Mannheim on April 1st from 11am-2pm. This event was dedicated to a storytelling and exchange between Afro-descendants in Mannheim and those online about the challenges of visibility of Black competences and the struggles for the deconstruction of erroneous narratives about Black history.
Indeed, this space of exchange and empowerment allowed sixty-five (65) Black people to learn more about Black people who have marked historical changes or continue to do so in order to restore the image of Black skills and expertise on the social, political, cultural and economic levels. First of all, the participants had the opportunity to share with the audience the model personalities that inspire them, such as Angelique KIDJO, Frederick Douglass, Nelson Mandela, Miriam Makeba, Reckya Madougou, H. Malatsi Siwa, Nathalie Yamb, Unity Dow, etc. It emerged from the discussions that the common point between these different personalities is the struggle. The struggle for the emancipation of black people against discrimination, the expression of their identity as a pride and the visibility of their competences as a solution to both national and global challenges.
Following this, a brainstorming session was held to reflect on the reasons for the low visibility of black people’s skills in Germany and worldwide. Amongst others, the following reasons were mentioned: racial discrimination, power structures, colonial continuities, lack of organisation and commitment amongst Afro-descendants themselves and the under-valuing of Afro-descendant knowledge.
To inspire the participants to commit themselves to historic changes in the face of these ills, the experiences and background of Mme Ngo Bigda Sylvie Paulette further edified the participants. Having immigrated to Germany at the age of 10, Sylvie Paulette has risen through the ranks to become an expert consultant on intercultural openness in politics, project management and interpretation in German, English and French. As a young Black woman, the participants reflected on how to contribute individually and collectively to make the competences of Black people visible. In summary, the following solutions were presented as a result of the group work :
- promote the culture and development of African languages by using them at major national and international events;
- develop multinationals for exclusive communication on Black initiatives;
- give visibility to small local initiatives to drive change at the local level;
- create consortia and investment funds on Black initiatives;
- increase the number of spaces for reflection and training for young Black role models in the appropriation of their culture and history, self-confidence and entrepreneurship;
- Set up networks to promote the skills of Black people and formal advocacy frameworks to defend their well-being.
- Initiate capacity building programmes for women and support the reduction of inequalities against Black women.
In addition to the different solutions presented, Sylvie Paulette shared with the participants the chronological axes for developing skills in one’s field of passion. The exchanges were concluded by a networking session between the participants both online and in person. In short, highlighting the skills of Black people must be the only remedy for the problems of Black people.
by Abdoul Boukari and Cécile Ngo Maï