Tribute To Sierra Leone’s Reggae Legend Amara Kabba
June 26, 2018 | 0 Comments
The late Amara Kabba was born in 1962 in Makeni in the northern region of Sierra Leone West Africa. Amara was one of three sons .His father was an accordion player who inspired the late Amara and his elder brother Nfagi Kabba to become musicians.
Amara kabba was a member of a very popular musical band group called Sierra Afrik and he recorded a hit song with the Band called Paddul a song about a popular mask-dance society in Sierra Leone,this song was a number hit throughout the country.
The late Amara kabba and his brother Nfagie went solos and fortunately he made his way to Europe where he developed rapidly and emerged to be one of the best Sierra Leonean musicians ever. His style of music and live band performances earned him high popularity especially in Sierra Leone. Amara met his wife Anne Marie and in the summer of 2003 Amara,Anne Marie and thier daughter Kadija were proud to come back to Sierra Leone to introduce his new album CONFRONT IT.
it was on this short holiday trip on a bright afternoon June 22nd 2003 that this legend lost his life by drowning at the lumley Beach.
During his life Amara and AnneMarie supported Sierra Leonean talents in making their dreams come true. Amara shared his lifework with the youthful talents with the aim that others also should have the chance to build up a life for themselves.Six months after the late Amara Kabba’s death his wife AnneMarie gave birth to their second daughter Amaria Sunshine Kabba.
The Shain Foundation was founded by AnneMarie on 25th of November 2005 in Amsterdam, with the Hope of bringing together Sierra Leonean Reggae talents in singing and preaching about peace and love not only in Sierra Leone but the world as a whole.
The Reggae Union in Sierra Leone and the Shain Foundation organised Reggae Night Festivals in honour of the late legend and certicifates were given to upcoming Reggae musicians and youths that are building up their images positively across the country.
Bureaucracy covers Slavery – Cameroonians in Sweden were Tricked into Slavery
March 27, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Charlene Rosander*
Most presumably, everyone would agree that the transatlantic slave trade going on up to the 19th century was not only morally and ethically wrong but also repulsive, disgusting, horrifying and devastating. We hope to imagine that if we were alive at the time we would be part of the abolitionist movement risking our own lives for contributing for the future we were hoping for but not guaranteed. However, what we often miss to consider, me included, is that we live in a time where slavery does exist, transformed and hidden in the world of bureaucracy.
In the north of Sweden a man called Niklas Gotthardsson who works for Skogsnicke AB has hired Cameroonian guest workers. The Cameroonians were to come to Sweden to work for six months planting trees. Before they came to Sweden they got a contract were they were promised an amount of money for the work they were about to do during their stay. They signed the contract without knowing that this contract is not valid as it is only guidelines the employer is not obliged to follow. However, the trade union as well as Skognicke AB signed the papers so they seemed legit.
After six months of hard work the Cameroonians got less than one fifth of the expected pay. Hence, the Cameroonians took loans from back home to be able to pay for the ticket and simultaneously pay for themselves and their families whilst away. Working in Sweden has meant that they have gotten less money than they have spend to come to Sweden meaning that they are ashamed of returning due to not accomplishing economically whilst abroad. Some have had to take their children out of school because they cannot pay the school fee any longer. Most of them cannot afford a ticket back home and thereby have to stay in Sweden forced to live day by day completely dependent on friends, as they have no income nor home. Nonetheless, they feel a need to stay in Sweden so that they can try to demand the pay they have been promised.
To understand the seriousness of the situation the Cameroonian guest workers were not treated with dignity. They lived in a worn down cabin and when it was time for dinner they got a chicken, which was alive, for them to skin themselves. They were also told to do other chores, which had nothing to do with their job, such as painting their boss’s house. The Cameroonians were used to do slave work, as there was no intention of giving them a salary equivalent to the amount of work they did.
The Swedish Television made a documentary about the Cameroonians situation and they thereby put pressure on the trade union to do something. The story of the Cameroonian workers was now spread on the news nation-wide but still it did not become a topic of discussion at work. In fact, the only people who I met who initiated a discussion revolving this issue were members of Pan-African Movement for Justice. I was worried about the lack of sympathy for the Cameroonians in the overall society. I hoped that the trade unions were to sort this out but just a couple of days ago they announced that Niklas Gotthardsson had done nothing wrong if you follow the Swedish law even though they agreed to this being a practise of slavery. In other words, one can get away with slavery in Sweden as long as they have done the “right” paper work.
I felt nauseous when I realised that formalities are more important than common sense and human rights in Sweden. The trade union admitted that there is a flaw in the legal system and this needs to be reviewed for this scenario not being repeated but this does not help the Cameroonians stuck in Sweden today without their families, any ability to provide for themselves and any hope for the future. Niklas Gotthardsson is not obliged to pay them their salary and he is even allowed to take on more Cameroonian workers next season. This is devastating as I thought I lived in a time where slavery is illegal and its pursuer would face consequences or at least reckless shame.
I ask myself what I’ve done to help the Cameroonian workers in Sweden and I get filled with a feeling of powerless emptiness. All I really can do is spread the word to make people aware of the situation and put pressure on the government to change the legislation. I hope that I might be able to make someone who is now planning a trip to Sweden to be a guest worker to rethink before taking a loan and leaving. If you have or are planning to come to Sweden to be a guest worker please contact Pan-African Movement for Justice first on firstname.lastname@example.org. We will help you look up which company you have planned to work for and let you know if the company and contract is to be trusted.
I sincerely hope and believe that we will one day live in a world where we are all truly considered equal.
* Views expressed in the blog Swedish Perspectives are those of Charlene Rosander. The author welcomes comments and feedback.
A New Beginning
January 20, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Charlene Rosander
As we were all busy with listening to Christmas carols, baking, shopping and waiting with anticipation for the up-coming holiday there was an apprehension luring around the corner. I could see facebook comments where people were writing that now it’s gone too far. Without any deeper reflection I realised what they thought had gone too far; antiracism. As if the struggle for equality is mischievous for disturbing the perfectly existing power structures for some. As if it is ok to fight against racism as long as it does not mean any changes in traditions inevitably presuming that racism must exist somewhere but not in our traditions. As if antiracism is good in small amounts meaning it is not meant to function until racism is history.
By now you might be wondering how antiracism was exposed to make people feel that it had gone too far. Every year during Christmas Eve the Swedish Television shows an hour of Christmas Greetings from Disney which has been a tradition since 1960. This has become strongly associated with Christmas in the sense that it gathers families to spend quality time together in front of the TV and get into the Christmas spirit. Every year it is more or less the same show. From time to time there have been slight modifications which usually have surpassed the Swedish audience. However, for Christmas 2012 two racist stereotypes and one stereotype for blonde women were abolished. One of these stereotypes was a black doll which was drawn as a pickaninny.
More specifically, this modification meant deleting a couple of seconds of the cartoons which made many people furious. In debates on the Internet and TV there were people going that far stating that their Christmas was ruined due to this modification. Those less radical said that they were worried about what would be taken away from them next. This comment made me lose most of my energy because it made me realise how perpetual the ignorance towards racism is in Sweden. If you would ask people in Sweden if they are antiracists they would most presumably say yes. If you would ask people what they do to prevent racism they would most presumably be left puzzled and confused. This is because many people in Sweden do not see the linkage between these two questions. Being an antiracist means that you are aware that racism is existent and you are doing your best to oppose it. In this issue there was little awareness as many people debating did not know what a pickaninny is and they were not willing to change a tiny bit of their tradition to head towards equality.
What really surprised me with this debate was that people argued that Disney’s decision to remove these stereotypes has ended up in Swedish people not being allowed to be Swedish, that some of their tradition has been taken away from them and they really want to hold on to this so that they can feel Swedish. This surprised me because what I see as Swedish is the strife for equality, gender as well as human. I thought that this strife must be more important to the Swedish people than holding on to racist traditions. It is time for us all to realize that we do not reach a better society by doing noting and never questioning ourselves. We need to be aware of which society we live in and which position we obtain. Simultaneously we need to hold on to the strife to equality, despite if we are over- or underprivileged. My experience tells me that as long as people question things and do not just cling to the main opinion we can reach a society where pickaninnies solely are a part of history lessons and seen as something we need to be ashamed of. Let us make 2013 the year when we make sure we have facts about a topic before entering a debate and when we are humble to the thoughts and opinions provided by those affected.
November 6, 2012 | 0 Comments
Racism is basically a power struggle. Those in society who are privileged want to keep their power by keeping the minorities oppressed. This is done in the most subtle way possible, preferably invisible for the majority and difficult for the oppressed to realise. This can be done in different ways, for example by using racist expressions, reproducing stereotypes through media, having different laws for different groups in society, discrimination, harassments and hate crimes.
There are Swedes argue that the word “negerboll” is a Swedish word and should therefore be used and not replaced by “chokladboll”. In short the discussion is based on the name of a round cookie made out of chocolate sprinkled with coconut flares. It has been called “negerboll” which means “nigger ball” and is now called due to obvious reasons “chokladboll” which means “chocolate ball”. This vocabulary modification in the Swedish language to show respect to black people has, as mentioned, been met with resistance. There are even a t-shirts for sale which say “Varför får man inte säga negerboll när man får saga vitlök?” (Why can’t you say nigger ball when you can say white onions?), as well as a facebook page called “Svenska Negerbollar” (Swedish Nigger balls) which currently has 26 005 likes.
This word, I argue, is important to some of the people in the majority group in Sweden because they are scared that they will lose some power if they do not continue oppressing. If the oppressed gain a voice they will eventually be equals. The majority group is in this case so paranoid that even if they are standing on to the heavy brick of power they are insisting on placing their brick on top of the oppressed. This is what determines white rage. It is overall the perceived diminishment of power. In other words, white rage can occur even though minorities are not gaining power but the white person has a paranoia that it is occurring and are outraged because of that.
The oppressed is however not passive in the power struggle. There are some efforts pertained by few of the oppressed to gain some power. One is to subdue to the majority, to integrate, change and become someone who is quiet when encountering racism. But this way will only make the oppressed seem to have power but really s/he is not free nor considered equal with the majority, only slightly better than his/her own minority group.
Another way of gaining power is to try to oppress the majority group. In Sweden immigrants use the word “svenne” when insulting Swedish people. Basically “svenne” means a Swedish person. It has no history of being degrading, such as the n-word has, and has therefore not got the same impact, but still many Swedes consider this an offensive word and even occasionally equalize it with the n-word as if this linkage should approve for the n-word to be used.
Finally, the most effective way to gain power is to not accept being oppressed. For every degrading action towards the oppressed minority group there is a counter-attack in form of for example a good argument, a demonstration or pressing charges.
I am tired of listening to the endless discussion circulating the word “negerboll” because one argument for keeping the word is dumber than the other. Instead of just admitting that it is pretty nice sitting on the top of the brick dangling ones legs arguments such as; we have always used that word and it’s nothing wrong with it and why can’t we say “negerboll” but we can say white onions are being spit out. I sound pretty negative but I do have a theory that we are heading towards the right direction even though we are taking mini steps to get there.
There are white people who believe in human equality and are anti-racists. I don’t mean people who say they believe all people are worth the same and simultaneously are quiet when someone says something racist. I mean that there are people who are truly anti-racist and thereby fight for human equality. These people are willing to give up some of their power to give someone who belongs to a minority group power. These people are exceptionally rare but very important because the only way to combat racism is to even out the distribution of power amongst different groups in society which is something worth aiming at despite how much white rage we encounter.
Living in Denial: Sweden and the slave trade
October 16, 2012 | 21 Comments
Sweden is the country which is neutral, open-minded and anti-racist, if not in reality, at least in its self-image. Gustav lll, Queen Kristina, Axel Oxenstierna and Luis de Geer are known as national heroes. They were either royalty or intellectuals and extremely wealthy. Little do the Swedish people know that these heroes were the frontier concerning Sweden’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.
I was only twelve when I read the information provided at Cape Coast Castle. After a second my stomach ached. I read it over and over again to make sure I was not imagining it. Overall, the sign said that Swedes built Cape Coast Castle, that Sweden colonised a part of which is today present-day Ghana and that Sweden was one of the main providers of iron during the transatlantic slave trade. I questioned the facts and asked the tour guide as this was information I had not read about at school and he confirmed what I was dreading. Every step I took in the slave fort and every shackle I saw I started to think of why this information had been withheld from me in Sweden.
After the flight back to Sweden I gathered my pictures from Cape Coast Castle, prepared a presentation and went with uneasy steps to school because I felt that I had a mission to spread this information but simultaneously I felt that I would confront defiance. My intuition was correct as my teacher disregarded the information I had gathered and claimed that it was false and therefore there was no point of holding a presentation about this subject at school. In that moment my teacher made me neglect my past and surpass the reasoning that the racism I faced at school and other parts of society actually was deep-rooted and intertwined with our past.
In due time, I have realised that Sweden’s involvement in the slave trade was more complicated than I had previously comprehended. Up until the 9th of October 1847 Sweden had a colony in the West Indies called Saint-Berthélemy where there were thousands of slaves. When Gustav lll was asked to end slavery in the beginning of the 19th century by Great Britain where the abolitionist movement had grown strong the Swedish king firmly neglected that Sweden had had any participation in having slaves. This denial has lived to our days in Sweden as well on the former Swedish colony Saint-Berthélemy.
Our school books in Sweden mention the presumed Swedish heroes but the significant part of the slave trade is surpassed. Queen Kristina is recognised as a woman who was raised as a man to be able to rule Sweden but who despite this chooses to convert and abdicate. She is not recognised as, together with Luis de Geer, being an initiator for Sweden taking on slaves. Louis de Geer is not known for this initiative either, instead he is solely known as a merchant and industrialist. Axel Oxenstierna, a friend of Louis de Geer, was famous for being Queen Kristina’s confidant but it is not mentioned that he received four slaves as a gift from Luis de Geer. Gustav lll, the Swedish king, who not to mention bought Saint-Berthélemy in 1784 with the intention to trade slaves and other goods connected with the transatlantic slave trade.
In the former Swedish colony Saint-Berthélemy the ignorance on this particular part of history is just as immense. Most of the inhabitants on the island do not know that their ancestors were slaves as this is not taught of school. This denial is prominent on the island as well in Sweden. This denial has left Swedes to believe that racism does not exist in Sweden as Sweden “does not” have a colonial past. This denial has led to having a careless attitude towards malicious images of black people and derogatory words as the Swedish people generally have a hard time realising what is racist. Racism has been presented as something a few crazy people believe in and support and by that Swedes can comfortably close their eyes to the structural racism which dictates everyday life.
Introducing Afro -Swedish Perspectives
October 11, 2012 | 2 Comments
Hello Readers, Greetings and welcome to my new blog Afro-Swedish Perspectives. My name is Charlene Rosander. I grew up in the south of Sweden in a town called Malmö where I still live today. My mum is from Ghana and I define myself as an Afro-Swede as Ghana and Swedenare the places I’m culturally from and it forms a sense of belonging amongst Africans in Sweden. My definition is less complicated than my heritage. My Grand Father was actually Lebanese but he was born and raised in Ghana and my Grand Mother is Ghanaian. My Mum, Aunt and Grand Mum live with me in Malmö. Every now and then we go to Ghanato stay with my Uncles in Achimota in Accra.
I have a Teacher’s Degree but I’ve also studied International Migration and Ethnic Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies, English and Project Management. Currently I work at a high school as a Student Assistant. My work is very rewarding as I get to guide the students along the right path, motivate them and help them throughout their studies without needing to grade them.
My heart and soul is with my students but I’m simultaneously torn as I burn equally for combating racism, especially racism towards people of African descent. This is not solely because of my descent as I also feel the need to focus especially on this group as racism is widespread towards this group without necessarily being acknowledged, especially in Sweden.
I’m part of an organization called Pan-African Movement for Justice which is an organization based in Sweden which works with creating awareness and acknowledgement of the situation for people of African descent. We also try to mobilize people with African descent acrossSweden, Europe,Americaand hopefully the rest of the world in due time. We want us to stand together and react on injustices.
Still in 2012 we find malicious images, caricatures, of black people in art and culture; black people are still being harassed and looked down upon simply due to colour. This is something I feel I need to address and fight against which I do through Pan-African Movement for Justice by being part of a project called Café Pan-Africa Malmö where we meet once a week and discuss issues concerning black people. When needed we also take action by for example writing articles and empowering ourselves with education which can be implemented practically. Recently, I and two colleagues went to Warszawa to the OSCE, ODIHR to learn how to combat Hate Crimes towards people of African descent.
I’ll be able to contribute to PAV-www.panafricanvisions.com, by sharing incidents happening in Sweden, and other parts ofEurope, towards people of African descent. I will let you in on my thoughts as a mixed young woman from Ghana living in Sweden and I will also let you in on our struggle inSwedenandEuropefor a society where we are all truly equal. I believe that there is such a time otherwise I wouldn’t have all this energy to spare. The struggle goes on. Check on my blog and feel welcome to share your thoughts as well!!
Malawi’s Joyce Banda discards presidential jet and luxury car fleet
June 7, 2012 | 0 Comments
New president increases popularity with ongoing rejection of predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika’s lavish lifestyle and policies
By David Smith*
Malawi’s new president has made numerous breaks from her autocratic predecessor but few will be this popular: she has dumped his presidential jet and fleet of luxury cars.
Joyce Banda, who came to power in April after the death of Bingu wa Mutharika, has barely paused in her drive to overturn his controversial policies and lifestyle.
Her decision to sell or lease the impoverished country’s £8.4m presidential jet and fleet of 60 Mercedes government cars seems likely to cement domestic goodwill – and confirm her as a darling of the west.
Britain, Malawi’s biggest aid donor, announced on Friday that Andrew Mitchell, the international development secretary, had raised the issue of the Dassault Falcon 900EX jet with Banda at a private meeting with the new government. Mitchell said: “At a time of austerity in both Britain and Malawi, president Banda’s decision to sell or lease the presidential jet and expensive fleet of cars sends an enormously encouraging signal to British taxpayers and the international community about the seriousness President Banda is applying to overturn bad decisions taken under the previous government.
“The proceeds can be used to provide basic services to Malawi’s poorest people who urgently need help following the vital devaluation of the currency.”
Last month Banda was quoted in local media saying the cabinet would discuss the jet’s future, explaining she had no problems “offloading it as I can well use private airliners; I am already used to hitchhiking”.
Mutharika bought the presidential jet in 2009, claiming it was less expensive than leasing a plane every time he travelled. But it came to be seen as a symbol of African kleptocracy and some observers compared him with Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.
Mutharika was also condemned for purchasing a 58-room mansion in his home district and granting a salary to his wife. His regime lashed out at allegations of corruption and cronyism at a time when Malawi was suffering severe shortages of foreign currency and fuel.
The president’s sudden death from a heart attack changed the course of the country’s history. Having thwarted an attempt by his allies to block her, Banda assumed control and has since appointed a new cabinet, sacked his police chief, announced the lifting of a ban on homosexuality and restored the country’s independence-era flag.
The turnaround has been welcomed by western countries such as Britain, whose high commissioner was expelled by Mutharika for branding him “autocratic and intolerant of criticism”.
During a four-day visit, Mitchell confirmed that the Bank of England will work directly with the Reserve Bank of Malawi to help it cope with the impact of slashing the value of the local currency, the kwacha, by one third earlier this month on the advice of the IMF.
The minister said: “I am also delighted to be in Malawi to relaunch Britain’s development partnership with the new president. Britain is leading the international community by providing urgent balance of payments support and technical assistance to Malawi through the Bank of England.”
In May this year Britain pledged £23m to help stabilise the Malawian economy and £10m for the country’s health system. – The Guardian