Imagine There’s No Countries . . .

Considering the Possibility and Practice of Global Citizenship

What’s the Difference Between and Afropolitan and a Global Citizen

Posted by bklunk on January 26, 2009

“What is an Afropolitan?” by Taiye Tuakli-Wosornu – Citizens of the World

Osekre writes about the experience of being an Afropolitan, a phenomenon that clearly reaches, among other places, to the White House.

It’s moments to midnight on Thursday night at Medicine Bar in London.
Zak, boy-genius DJ, is spinning a Fela Kuti remix. The little
downstairs dancefloor swells with smiling, sweating men and women
fusing hip-hop dance moves with a funky sort of djembe. The women show
off enormous afros, tiny t-shirts, gaps in teeth; the men those
incredible torsos unique to and common on African coastlines. The whole
scene speaks of the Cultural Hybrid: kente cloth worn over low-waisted
jeans; ‘African Lady’ over Ludacris bass lines; London meets Lagos
meets Durban meets Dakar. Even the DJ is an ethnic fusion: Nigerian and
Romanian; fair, fearless leader; bobbing his head as the crowd reacts
to a sample of ‘Sweet Mother’.

Were you to ask any of these beautiful, brown-skinned people that basic
question – ‘where are you from?’ – you’d get no single answer from a
single smiling dancer. This one lives in London but was raised in
Toronto and born in Accra; that one works in Lagos but grew up in
Houston, Texas. ‘Home’ for this lot is many things: where their parents
are from; where they go for vacation; where they went to school; where
they see old friends; where they live (or live this year). Like so many
African young people working and living in cities around the globe,
they belong to no single geography, but feel at home in many.

They (read: we) are Afropolitans – the newest generation of African
emigrants, coming soon or collected already at a law firm/chem lab/jazz
lounge near you. You’ll know us by our funny blend of London fashion,
New York jargon, African ethics, and academic successes. Some of us are
ethnic mixes, e.g. Ghanaian and Canadian, Nigerian and Swiss; others
merely cultural mutts: American accent, European affect, African ethos.
Most of us are multilingual: in addition to English and a Romantic or
two, we understand some indigenous tongue and speak a few urban
vernaculars. There is at least one place on The African Continent to
which we tie our sense of self: be it a nation-state (Ethiopia), a city
(Ibadan), or an auntie’s kitchen. Then there’s the G8 city or two (or
three) that we know like the backs of our hands, and the various
institutions that know us for our famed focus. We are Afropolitans: not
citizens, but Africans of the world.

All the pieces of global citizenship are there and a reminder that global citizenship will not be a homogenizing force.


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