Michael Bamidele Afolayan
Anasa Cultural Center
Shaping AfroGreekness is about racial equality in yet another European country. AfroGreeks are not accepted as citizens of the country and are in a liminal sense of belonging. This rooted issue becomes a civil society initiative and addresses all people of African descent born or living in Greece while it tackles inequality through interactive, artistic, and educational means. If we knew the long African history of Greece, we would accept our fellow citizens more openly and not as foreigners.
Rural towns on Greece's northern border with Turkey, Greek islands and some parts of Athens.
The first AfroGreeks are said to have settled in a small town of northern Greece (Avaton) after the Ottoman Empire. Civic education is unheard of in that area. Intervening in the place where history begun, leads to more unrevealed AfroGreek territories, such as Greek islands which "welcomed" African slaves during the transatlantic passage (Halikoutides), and Christian missionaries during colonialism, which are currently civic deserts on this issue. This in turn leads to Athens and the current refugee movement from Africa. All the above explain how Greece's current migration influx is at large due to colonialism. Shaping AfroGreekness empowers all generations and regions on why breaking the silence is important. It tackles racism on a micro level and talks diversity in a new dimension.
It seems like European directives regarding anti-racism and equality are rarely implemented on a communal scale of its member-states, so our idea seeks to inform and give access to knowledge by showing small communities their plurality throughout the country and encouraging them to join the Afro-European conversation for their inclusion. Our organisation gives participatory opportunities to its members by training them how to self-organise and act for change, while starting from zero. Art and culture plays a very important role in begining to explore one's heritage and wanting to work towards a multicoloral microsociety. After the involvement, individuals racially democratise their country by representing its local community and advocating for it on a local, national, and European scale.
*The People of Nestos Delta: at the northern border of Greece with Turkey, in the villages of Palio Erasmio and Avaton of the Nestos River are the first AfroGreeks who settled in the area during and after the Ottoman period until today.
*PAD/BE: People of African Descent/Black Europeans or the Second Genration who are born and/or raised in Greece from migrant parents and believe they are not entitled to Greek citizenship.
*PoC professionals: doctors, lawyers, athletes People of Colour who are excluded from representing Greece on an international level (ex. Olympics), partaking in national associations (ex. Doctors Union), working for public services (ex. Supreme Court).
*Citizens and politicians: awareness of the existence of the AfroGreeks and debates on inclusive parliaments.
Shaping AfroGreekness has four main stages: 1)Preparation: mapping, gathering data, gathering all the implementation team. 2)Implementation: research, audiovisual and interview sessions, facilitations, travels, workshops. 3)Presentation: showcasing all the audiovisual outcomes, writing a policy paper, performing a theatre-documentary. 4)Archive: create an accessible database for safeguarding the new histories, and providing access for the next generations to come.
*Methods: elicitation interviews, a technique for the person to bring back to memory specific moments in life with extreme detail, participant observation, gender balanced groups, racially mixed groups, interactive art workshops, world cafe civic meetings,
formal and informal community councils, public interventions.
On a social level, more and more AfroGreeks will be aware and empowered as a collective identity by creating local "civic oases", ideally legal entities, through which they can advocate for a more inclusive political presence on a regional, national, and continental level, as well as for employability access in the public and private sector. On a communal level, we are expecting an accelerating attendance and engagement throughout the project and that the archive will enter the local libraries, municipalities, and other sectors as first hand knowledge. On a cultural level, we aim at AfroGreek families and histories to be (re)connected from different parts of the country and we expect that Greek citizens as a whole will gain in-depth knowledge of the African/Black heritage of Greece.
Our initiative enhances active citizenship in Europe from various ends and from, so far, unheard local voices which can influence more south and south east European countries with our without colonial past, but with similar communities and issues to be addressed. Shaping AfroGreekness confronts the dreadful past and present (hi)stories of colonialism, enslavement, migration, and current geo-political polarisation and encourages Europe towards a more welcoming democratic culture. It fills the gap between stakeholders of society and civic actors, opens the doors to accessible knowledge and participation and generates a dialogue from a bottom-up perspective. It gives a voice to muted identities and diversifies the Black European experience from others (i.e.Panafrican, African American, etc.)
In 2016 Michael, the coordinator of Anasa Cultural Center, found himself in the Greek parliament explaining to the government what it is like to be born in an EU country and to receive deportation letters as an adolescent. He realised that politicians had no knowledge of this experience, let alone the existence of the AfroGreeks, and that this was a historical moment: it was the first time a non-White Greek civic actor was addressing his population on national television and was reaching out to all AfroGreek individuals throughout the country. This cataclysmic moment offered Anasa the potential to think beyond art and activism just for African migrants and their urban experiences. It was the catalyst for establishing a wider vision and mission for its members towards a civic domino effect.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Office expenses and space rentals 3000
Travel and Accommodation 6000
Audiovisual equipment 5000
Web and archive design 5000
How can we make our project more visible? We need to find ways to address the issue which will help raise awareness to the general public. How can we do that without becoming too marketing/business oriented? We always want to keep things on a level which is accessible and understood by all people.