“That man who finds his homeland sweet is only a raw beginner; the man for whom each country is as his own is already strong; but only the man for whom the whole world is as a foreign country is perfect”
Tvetan Todorov, The Conquest of America: the Question of the Other
African society is usually -and unfairly- portrayed as a culture that is far from European traditions, which are given more voice, prominence and, hence, truth. In a context where African migration increases almost every day, reaching totally disproportioned numbers, the blind society we live in keeps on caring not about the land -and here we must acknowledge families and cultures too- that Africans leave behind, but rather on the fact that these people are occupying a country that ‘is not theirs’ (Genesis, Lord, 15:13). The hypocrisy that lies behind the concept of ‘making ours’ something that does not actually belong to anybody is even heightened when issues of race and ethnicity are brought to the surface: is white society rejecting outsiders or is it in fact black outcasts who are being despised? Due to the prominence given to the black subject as an immigrant is dimming the peaks of African culture.
As previously stated, their tradition is constantly withdrawn and it is subordinated to the power of migration in a world aimed at ‘conceptualizing an international culture, based not on the exoticism of multiculturalism or the diversity of cultures, but on the inscription and articulation of culture’s hybridity’ (Bhabha, 2006). Hence, often blinded by this erroneous but widespread portrayal of the Other, it is fairly impossible to look beyond the stereotypically crafted immigrant. Doing such an effort, though, would reveal a world full of possibilities, full of beautiful and mesmerizing cultures and full of long-lasting traditions and folklore. The question that arises here is whether it is possible or not to be able to remove the afore-mentioned burden – that of not trusting everything we hear or see. Only then will we be allowed to believe in something triggered by our inner moral precepts. This project aims at unraveling the futile characterizations imposed not only in African people but in Africa as a continent too. While doing so, the paper will also deconstruct all the myths that have been crafted in order to make sense of our current situation: the migratory movements that are very unjustly misleading and prompt the hatred towards the black race. Are they really occupying Europe? The truth is, after having done a meticulous study on the topic – as clarified in further sections, that African people emigrate to other African countries rather than abroad, clearly opening the questions as the extent to which it is possible to
succeed in such a prototypically withdrawn culture. Only by lifting the veil it is possible to observe that Africa is a continent full of possibilities.
This project can be thus said to have a bifocal perspective and hence a dual objective. As mentioned above, the first one embraces the deconstruction of the African myth of emigration. The second one, tightly related to the first one, would claim for the possibilities for succeeding in the continent. Both issues will be addressed to in the interview done to Aliou Sylla, a Senegalese man who, after the World Trade Center’s failure and hence his impossibility to continue working in an American-based NGO, abandoned his homeland in order to earn a living in Spain. Here, he has managed to stand out as a professional worker in the tertiary sector as he wistfully remembers his youth in Senegal. His political involvement there and his articulated fight for feminism and equality blend in order to make of him a man who once was able to fulfill a dream in Africa and who is now concerned with issues of migration and diasporic elements remaining of the beloved culture he left behind. His story -as well as his words- has been read as a possible way of confirming or disregarding the two aforementioned hypotheses this project is grounded on. The attached portfolio will somehow describe, alongside Aliou’s narrative, different perspectives from which migration can be observed. A short story will be aimed at explaining how different it can be for a black emigrant to succeed in another country that is not his/her own, and what are the hidden chances for him/her to value the importance of the homeland. After discussing here one of the hypothesis described above – possibilities to achieve a full life in Africa, a video will be used as proof to foreground the myth of migration. Finally, a section where different photographs accounting for Aliou’s life will wrap up the portfolio.
Isabel Flaquer Beltrán
Sílvia Pérez Carro
Mireia Trejo Domingo
Ada Guiteras Canal
Eva Puyuelo Ureña