Since 1970, the Month of February and October is dedicated to Black History Month also known as African American History Month; an important celebration of significant events and people in the history of African Diaspora. In the United States and Canada, the BHM is celebrated in February whilst the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands are observed in October.
2019 was a symbolic year that marked an official attempt to build a bridge between Africans and African diaspora since the Year of Return was declared by the Government of Ghana, being a major landmark spiritual and birth-right journey inviting the diaspora to reconnect with their roots in commemoration of 400 years since the 1st enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown Virginia, USA.
In a time of building walls, Strict Visa regimes and war against immigration as well as heighten travel bans for people around the world some of which are Africans ironically coinciding with exciting times of a new wave of discussion and efforts to foster a renewed sense of belonging and build sustainable relationships between Africans and Persons of Africans descent; we at Africans Living Fully asked four young Africans to reflect and share their opinions about Black History Month, when they learnt about it, what it symbolizes or not to them and whether they celebrate it or not. Here their responses:
Most of us don’t know our history and what we learn in school is not even close to the magnitude of our history
Salma Ibra is a Journalist and development professional born and raised in Nairobi Kenya. I got to learn about Black History Month less than two (2) years ago and now I celebrate it, the Nubian Queen said. For me, it means awareness about a part of our history that we are ignorant about since most of us don’t know our history and what we learn in school is not even close to the magnitude of our history.
We don’t know much about the slave trade, how it came about and what happened. So my favourite thing about black history month is when they highlight the stories of the journey to success and the stories of successful black women which we don’t hear much.
The Black history month is empowering because it shows you and your blackness can do so much and I think it gives a lot of people so much hope since it is so much harder for black ppl to get to the top.
I can’t relate to the African American struggle as an African born and raised in Africa.
Caleb Mensa – Bonsu is a Ghanaian former banker turned Travel entrepreneur behind the Travel Clan. In an honest conversation, he said “ The black history month means I get to know about all these great African Americans and what they did for their people”. I learnt about it three years ago but I won’t say I celebrate it. I think because I can’t relate to the African American struggle as an African born and raised in Africa.
It is a time to reflect on our history; our ancestry and particularly what stories we are passing down to our children
Nafeesah Oseni, a modest fashion designer from Lagos Nigeria shared with ALF: For me, Black History Month is a time when we as a race take a step back to reflect on our history; our ancestry and particularly the stories and influence we are passing to down to our children and next generation. Although it saddens me sometimes that there should be anything called ‘ Black History Month’ because if we lived in a fair world, our history would have been told like any other history in the world and we wouldn’t need to dig these stories out.
Also, I started to recognize and celebrate BHM about two years ago, since I have always been fascinated by our history as Africans from a very young age so I took African history as a course in school for throughout the 6 years I was there.
Honestly, I do not celebrate it that much.
Emile Yves Sidibe from Mali is a world traveller and student based in Paris, France. Yves said honestly not much, I understand why it is important especially in African American culture but It doesn’t touch me too much. However, I am aware of my blackness since I moved to France in 2014 so I understand the struggles of people of African Descent in the diaspora!
We’d like to hear from you, what are your thoughts on Black History Month? Do you think it is important for us as Africans to celebrate it and why? If so, in what way would it be the most beneficial in enhancing our relationship with our cousins in the diaspora ?