Cultural Decolonisation : Where are we at?

The 1st edition of the Afro-Urban Festival occured at the Center of the Arts of the house of Haïti from 26th to 27th of january. The festival hosted a three hours conference about the cultural decolonisation with no less than seven personalities, autors, musicians, sociologist… to talk about it.

Based on the cultural aspect of the decolonisation, the (round table) conference is splitted in three different parts : appropriation, appreciation and transmission.

It’s the committed author Dimani Mathieu Cassendo who starts the conversation by remembering that art in all its ways is a non-negligeable valor even if it is hard to live by it. (She is glad to know that there will always be artists). It is important to know that the world will always need artists.

Therefore, there’s (still) a difference that is made between them and for her, it was when she (gained) had got notoriety. People started to ask about (question) her art when it became public because of her (she is) commitment (to) for antidiscrimination causes and did not represent the normative society as many see it. A fence imposed as much on her image as a black woman artist than on her characters.

She is then supported by the author Elena Stoodley who mentions that the uniformity of the selection counsels who are always targeted on a large parameters (targets are large and indecisive) does not help to promote diversity in the events since everybody is submitted to his own perception and will often use the art pieces with which he or her can be identified (identify).

The conference (round-table) goes to the (subject) cultural appropriation subject which gives the opportunity for Sylphir (express herself for Sylphir) : singer shared between african ancestral musics and urban rythmes to express herself. She precises that this appropriation is a heist of knowledge linked to the spoliation imposed to Africa on different levels starting with human, gas and mineral.

Myriam Laabidi the sociologist speaks to remember than cultural transmission is, at the contrary, made in  well conditions of education, discovery and mindedness.

A cultural appropriation definition is proposed and approved by all the seven speakers : it is the moment when an cultural element is taken, desacralised and decontextualized before becoming a trade product.

At this moment, Rodney Saint-Éloi, editor and writer, (seizes) grabs the opportunity to mention the fact that cultures around the world are (taken way too often and) suffering for appropriation and even from erasing by quoting the canadian historical perspective and mostly the native americans absence from it. It is true that we have (were) celebrated the 150th anniversary of Canada in 2017 while it has been so much longer for them.

His words are resonating with the quebecer rapper Webster who sang Quebec History X about the erased (story) history of the black people in Canada. It is also a reference to the structuralist autor C. Lévi-Strauss who said the cultural diversity is an essential state of every human development. What shows that it is not possible to make a comparison between cultures (any of them) since they are different in the values (they appreciate).

(And more) Furthermore … we must not forget to consider the differences between the history of slavery who shared by a lot of afro-americans, canadians like people in the West-Indies from the Africa’s history. Being a back person in Canada doesn’t mean sharing this side of history.

This is about the disconnection of Occident from the rest of the world since successives colonizations and the uprooting (roots-tearing) that was (implied) resulted from (by) it. Which alienated the respect between (folks) people as Aimé Césaire said. It is then important to establish a balance between kindness in the way of rebuilding the trust, recognition of the acts that have been (done) committed and the avoidance of (intrusion) interference sais Pr. Laabidi.

Mr Saint-Éloi takes back the cultural appropriation talk in order to come back on what Mme Cassendo said about it and add that the lack of examples from Africa’s humanity is making barrier (dodging) for the survival of many cultures against globalized institutions like Joseph Ki-Zerbo said in 2003 while publishing À Quand l’Afrique?

Cultural appreciation is different though and could be based on a need of listening, mind-opening and respect from both sides if they want to have an healthy dialogue. The panel is in adequation with it, appreciating the opposite definition of cultural appropriation by putting forward the right way of getting informations about a piece of art and valorizing it with an other way that is different from the usual way (don’t get in conflict with its culture).

Sylphir ends the conversation remembering that multiculturality is a gift for a society and we need to stop turning around the majority if we want the minorities get recognition (express themselves). The cultural diversity from where emanate difference can only be a wealth.

This conference was really rich in talks and informations from where a lot of essentials notions were explained while this rich panel of different people in genders, cultures and ways of living, was able to validate the ideas in their different contexts.

Definitions given :

Cultural appropriation : To take a cultural element, desecrate and decontextualize it in order to give it a marketing interest.

Cultural appreciation : To take a cultural element in its traditional context while knowing what can be modified and accepted by its original culture by asking it to specialists.

Cultural transmission : Moment of sharing between two members of different cultures in good education’s conditions (about the other’s culture), discovery and acceptation.

Want to know more about the panel?