The dust has settled and the buzz has finally faded – or rather it has dispersed into and energised other projects – so it feels like the right time to look back at our “Looking B(l)ack Travel Symposium”, highlighting some of our favourite videos and photos from this landmark event for Afropean.
But before we go any further, if you missed what was a beautiful meeting of people and cultures in Brussels, we’d like to announce that we’re working on another symposium, dedicated to the notion of ‘Intergenerational Dialogue’ with The Holland Festival this June! More info coming soon, but for now stay up to date by heading here.
The symposium in Brussels last October was inspired by the conviviality and international politics of the Harlem Renaissance, the Negritude Movement, and postwar African Independence, hosted by BOZAR, Brussels. It staged a weekend of art, photography, historical narratives, poetry performances, live music and panel discussions, followed by a guided decolonial tour of Brussels, bringing to life the myriad ways members of the Black community experience the world through travelling.
The event spanned historical narratives to the present day, explored the notion of travel, whether out of necessity due to political and social exile, poverty and economic opportunity, or freely, out of simple curiosity or to experience, document and recount the world, being the lookers instead of the looked at. There were many highlights, including a surprise performance by Linton Kwesi Johnson who delivered his stirring ode to the Afro German poet May Ayim. Marie Daulne of Zap Mama celebrated her birthday and the release of a brand new album, Eclectic Breath. Tété-Michel Kpomassie, author of the classic travel narrative An African in Greenland, spoke to Claude Grunitzky, one of Afropean’s biggest inspirations, about their shared knowledge of Togo, France and travelling while black. Some of black Britain’s most lauded writers and poets, from across generations, came together and had a packed audience in tears of laughter and sadness. Perhaps the biggest highlight, though, was how the space, adorned with images of Pan-African idols and set out to encourage an egalitarian interaction between performers and audience, really did ….
The opening act was a screening of “Mizike Mama”, a full length documentary shot in the early ’90s that tells the story and highlights the inspiration behind the creation of the inimitable Neo-Soul Afro-European fusion that is Zap Mama. At the time of writing, this documentary is not available on any of the well known video sharing platforms but you can watch a 5 minute clip here. The screening was followed by a Q&A session with Afropean’s Johny Pitts and Marie Daulne (singer, songwriter, founder of Zap Mama and all round Goddess).