Shift perspectives; What does Africa mean to you now?
And of course by Africa I mean pick a country.
What is this trend of posting vintage Africa photos everywhere that everyone is falling in love with? Sometimes I really wonder how trends start, like from where? And I mean I am not going to lie, I even started to do it for a while until I asked myself....but why though. Nobody even looks like this anymore. I guess it will stay a mystery but regardless guys I would really rather like to know what Africa looks like now. What does Africa mean to people now, how are people living there now, what are they doing now, etc. not what we missed out on 60 plus years ago. We get it. Africa was not advertised in its glory as it should have been shown. However, lets move on. The past is the past and unfortunately (or fortunately, however you want to look at it) it has affected our being and now is a part of our culture. What can you do? There is no such thing as a time machine so let us enjoy the present and set our faces to the future.
When I was doing my research, a.k.a falling back in love with my dear country Cameroon, I got so caught up in what Cameroon was in the past and what it could have been (if it was not exploited, deserted, divided, and destroyed by….. well, I will stop myself from naming any names because that is not the point…..) In the end it just made me sad, angry, and frustrated. No creation was going to come out of anger that would have solved anything so I had to shift my perspective.
I started to think of how I could celebrate my country in its current state and time. I think the reason why I held on to the vintage photo trend was because it was like a kind of escapism from the real Cameroon. Pretty backdrops and classy poses was a definite change of story. But let's face it. Cameroon is definitely is NOT pretty right now and got-dang we are facing some serious issues that to be honest should not be happening in 2016! But to be honest part of the chaos is a part of us, and how we grow through it is a part of us too. So then what stays the same through any change is the soul; the core truth of it all.
Now, what is the soul of west African culture? For me, it starts with experiences that everyone across the board can relate to; how food always brings joy and unity or how platting hair automatically brings juicy gossip.
This summer we did a small photoshoot story of our girl Simone Smalls as we traveled around the African congested areas in Bronx and Harlem; the local grocery shop, the barber shop, and that sick restaurant around the corner. The photoshoot brought more than beautiful photos. Though very strange and very uncomfortable to people at first, it brought us all together in that moment in time. Conversations sparked and laughter bounced from corner to corner. I started to see Africa for myself, even away from home. In 2016, Africa is not the Africa it was during the 50’s. Africa is changing. What does that look like to you?
Check out our photoshoot below. We had quite some fun.
And by the way, can someone please tell me what is up with this palm leaf thing too?! Geeze!