Poems & Reflections on Introduction to Black Europe
by Alton Winter-Brown
At home, I was Alton, The son of the local singer.
The baby of the family, who was always known to some as the quiet one.
I was a bossy kid as my mama would always say.
“Alton was always telling someone what to do”
I was the little guy with the spirit of an old man.
Known to my school friends as granddaddy.
The class clown everyone wanted in their groups.
The sharply dressed kid covering up all the damage and hurt with nice clothes.
Hiding who I was and what really happened.
With age, came experience and change.
A change I saw coming but did my best to avoid.
It’s funny how change can make you feel more lost than you were before.
Overall a positive change that somehow made me feel less accepted, connected, so on and so
My experience in the Netherlands has made me look deeper.
Helped me see that it’s all okay.
We are all different in many ways but in many ways the same.
We all have a path, a path that is our own.
My way may not be the way that others take or want, and that’s ok.
My actions may not be the same as yours, and that’s okay.
I'm still out in the sun of the local singer.
I'm still bossy as my mama would say, only now an adult.
Still have the spirit of an old man, and people still call me granddaddy.
No longer the quiet one.
Usually won't shut up.
And still the one people want in their group, because I tend to do all the work.
The struggles I've been through will always be there.
They are struggles that will never be forgotten.
But in the end, this journey has been my make up.
The make up of me.
This journey has shaped me in every way.
It's good to remember every reaction comes with a story.
And this is mine.
That's why my home experience will always be there.
Because home is where the heart is.
Reflections of Introduction to Black Europe 2019
By Peggy Warren
It was inter generational
A group of community activists who
Exploring methods of liberation from the dominant Caucasians.
We heard from the forerunners
We saw the archives
We pounded the streets to see the remnants of oppression with our own eyes.
We sat in seats in a building that Black riches funded, in meeting rooms where black bodies could not have attended.
We walked the streets looking up to see ancestral features peering down from on high.
We listened till fatigued
We laughed, were angry and some of us cried as we tried to make sense of the equality black peoples through centuries and to this day are denied.
We explored cuisine together we sang together we questioned and did some reliving together. We weaved in and out of each other’s conversations and with each weave there were deeper connections.
An introduction to Black Europe that’s what the visionaries called the course,
It was a trajectory, will be a life long memory of camaraderie, of investment, of equipping and inspiring of creativity and making sense, not a journey but a journeying.
It was a time to be submerged fully then to rise resolutely with the knowledge that each one of us are as candles
from here we’ll be dispersed to our assigned spaces to agitate, interrogate, advocate and engage in the struggle; to be lights of liberation in the dark corners of oppression.
So thanks to those who dared...to the dreamers and doers:
Ubele, Untold, Yvonne, Michael, Jerry, Aminata, Michael M, Cecil,
Benji, Aisha, Otmar
Thank you. We salute you, we will honour you through enlightening and supporting the liberations of ourselves and others.
To my comrades of Introduction to Africa 2019, it was amazing doing life with you this week. May the courage of our ancestors be with us and guide us.
No longer strangers.
HOME is where… heart is
by Vivienne Isebor
At home I was born as Adaobi; first daughter of a prince, but couldn’t convince my dad’s ex-wife.
I was born into a game of chess in a maze, lost in the Diaspora, a British Nigerian but Nigerian first.
Had visions at birth of being lost in a hole that I couldn’t get out, but what a beautiful feeling, to breathe in, breathe out.
I close my eyes in London and land in The Gambia hearing “what’s your nice name?” and Wallof, arguing about who made jollof and laughing with sisters it felt like I always had.
Feeling home in the sand between my feet, within my soul. How home can be a feeling more than anything.
After my return, I was changed, saw community as my call. I found love in our difference. Home became a journey of connecting roads built apart by colonialism’s hate.
The ties they stole but home meant rebuilding
Seeing past what I believe and setting overseas to se that Europe is a home for people who look like me. Whether it be Dutch or Germany, right across the Indies to Haiti how solidarity holds our dreas for Afrofuturism.
Home is something I believe, and as I sit and breathe in, breathe out.
Home is where the heart is.
by Barbara Ojei Agwaziam
At home I belonged
I was protected from the harsh truth
of being black in 90s Spain
where a dash of black was enough to be othered,
so with my buckets of melanin
I was in a league of my own
And don't say it.
I know what you are thinking
"but you are not even that black"
I never claim the darkest struggle
I simply seek to express my own.
I'm thankful for the haven that was my house
the Nigerian Embassy in Barcelona
with weekend parties where I would
see all the other Nigerian kids
and fill my belly with Supermalt
and lick the Okro of my fingers
whilst answering o̱dinma
to all my aunts and uncles
asking me kedu?
But Monday morning the bubble would burst
as I returned to a school full of white kids
who sought to remind me
of all the ways I was not like them,
but every word ricocheted of my thick black skin
because my mum says I'm great
and that's all that matters
because home is where the heart is.