I am delighted to share with you the exciting news that I have been appointed Honorary Ambassador for Gender Equality and Spokesperson of the International Women’s Think Tank (IWTT), whose world headquarters are based in Atlanta, Georgia in the USA.
I wish to take this opportunity to invite you the Official Opening of the International Women’s Centre (IWC), at which I will be a Keynote Speaker at the Atlanta Metropolitan College in Atlanta, Georgia on Thursday 17th October 2013. (Please see attached flyer).
As Honorary Ambassador, I have been appointed the official Spokesperson to promote gender equality and will utilize my expanded international platform to support the IWTT-IWC’s mission to advance the sustainable political, social and economic empowerment of women and girls, which is central to the economic and human development of women and girls, and humanity as a whole.
It is my sincerest hope that we will be able to collaborate on some of my forthcoming projects under this new portfolio to elevate the status of women in the 21st Century. And look forward to seeing you in Atlanta in October!
Opera Singer Bibiana Nwobilo was born in Nigeria and raised in Austria; her CDs include Gershwin’s ‘Porgy & Bess’ and Oskar Nedbal’s ‘Die Winzerbraut’
CPO 777629-2 (2011)
A Tweet from BlackGermans @BGCSinc has brought the soprano Bibiana Nwobilo to our attention. She was born in Nigeria and grew up in Austria. Two of her three recordings are shown above. Bibiana sang the role of Clara in Porgy & Bess in 2009, among other performances. Here is an excerpt from the English language version of Bibiana Nwobilo’s website, http://www.bibiana-nwobilo.com/:
Born in Nigeria and grown up in Austria, Bibiana Nwobilo‘s interest in opera music started while still young. She attended the Music Academy in Klagenfurt and the Music Academy in Vienna where she successfully finished in the year 2006. Her teachers were Mrs. Gabriele Sima and Hilda DeGroote.
In the year 2007 she was the winner of the „Heinrich Strecker Contest“ in Baden near Vienna, and in the following year (2008) she won the prize of the „Armin Weltner Foundation“ in Switzerland.
2012 she received the cultural musical price in Carinthia. Bibiana Nwobilo has been performing on stage since early life. She performed in various concerts all over Austria, and also appeared in Kirk Franklins “Händels New Messias“.
Join us for another evening of serious laughter as we explore relationship issues through Drama & Debate! All the drama sketches will be based on Artist/Poetess/Author Cezanne Poetess‘ Self-help novel ‘Single, Spiritual…AND Sexual!’ – DON’T MISS IT!
Movie Breakfast in Stockholm on Aug. 25 in cooperation with the Polar Music Prize
CinemAfrica and the Polar Music Prize celebrates this year’s Polar Prize winner Youssou N’Dour and serves up an inspiring morning with breakfast and three films with a focus on Senegal. Return to Gorée is the main feature, a musical road movie that follows Youssou N’Dour on a journey to find jazz roots. Moderator is Coura Mbaye.
Come and settling down in one of Rio’s Bio cinema seats, enjoy the Copacabana good breakfast and start Sunday with three really good movies!
Sverige, 2011, 28 min
Regi: Theresa Traoré Dahlberg
Taxi Sister is a documentary portrayal of the female taxi driver Bourys living in Dakar, Senegal. As the woman behind the wheel, she lives a fast-paced life with palpable everyday drama and she wrestle daily with society’s view of how a woman is expected to be. Today, there are 15 female taxi drivers in Dakar’s streets, but it’s still not much compared to the 15 000 taxi men.
Film breakfast at Bio Rio
Sunday 25 August 11.00
Hornstulls Strand, T-bana Hornstull
Tickets 150 kr (film & frukost) purchase via Bio Rio: www.biorio.se
One reason I love the CineAfrica series is that it provides a chance to visit Africa without boarding an airplane. To date my travel to Africa has been limited with two visits to Senegal and one visit to Zimbabwe. Both countries provided experiences I will never forget including seeing and feeling Goree Island and witnessing the marvel that is nature on safari.
I have promised myself that I will return to Africa and I would like to go on safaris in Botswana.
In a new series of articles, black women living in Europe share their views from the inside. In our first article, Cecilia Gärding explains why she is dedicated to fighting against racism in Sweden.
I come home from my vacation in the north of Sweden and go back to work as the project-director for ”The Cultural Heritage Agents”. A project with the purpose to help culturally active youth with a status as a national minority and youth with an immigrant background to become more included on the Swedish cultural scene. One of the main reasons for this project is to address how different minority groups are marginalized in the public debate about how they as a people or as a religious group are portrayed in cultural expressions made by mainly ethnic swedes.
Their responses have been strongly criticized by the majority society at large but also been questioned by certain media, celebrities and others. That has scared many people to silence. The few that has had the courage to keep struggling know that the prices they pay are persecution and threat to their lives. In Sweden we have followed the anti-gay laws in Russia and persecutions of the gay community. We might have the laws against racism in Sweden but in many ways, what we are going through here is similar to the Gay community in Russia. We and they know that these persecutions will never be prosecuted and people rarely choose to report these incidents. I know, I am one who is subjected to this. Instead we try to focus on the positive.
For me I try to turn the negative into constructive dialogue by writing books and making films. Through the film “We are like Oranges”, which is inspired by
authentic stories about how Afro-Swedish youth in Sweden face racism, from the book Afro-Swedish in the new Sweden we raise the question about hate-crime towards Afro-Swedes and remind the public about the racist past of Sweden. Where the otherwise untold story of 200 years of Swedish slave-history and blackface scandals at a student party at Lund University 2011 suddenly makes sense. We made the movie to educate and create understanding but Sweden has a long road ahead. Because the latest blackface scandals in Sweden which all happened late summer this year are signs that we are moving backwards. The scandals where Josephine Baker was portrayed by a white woman at a commemoration of her performances at a Stockholm club named Berns and the Pride festival scandal where blackface participants were allowed at the Pride festival and pictures were displayed on their website, can only be seen as warning-signs. As one of the founders of the Facebook page “No pride in Pride” I took a stand to show that blackface stereotypes have to criticize no matter what organization accepts them. Because of this I have received support but also a massive criticism. A criticism , that once again, comes from a white ethnic Swedish community that reminds me that my experiences and my body as a South-African and Swedish is not mine to own.
I feel a responsibility for the young who grow up in Sweden. What is the effect on them when they hear how grown-ups with no experience of racism tell us who has the right to say what about who´s bodies and who´s experiences. Both the ones with ethnic Swedish background and those who have another background learn right from wrong from us. How are they affected to hear it is ok to say demeaning words to others with another ethnic background or religion? That it is ok to dress up in blackface, that artistic freedom goes before human rights? Or even worse, that this is NOT blackface at all, that we who are involved are the ones that need more education? We already know that the young born in Sweden with another ethnic background are more affected than their Swedish friends of depression, self-inflicting harm, youth unemployment and suicide. This is the result of living in a racist society.
Sweden has been in international news off and on when different ethnic groups have been subjected to racist acts. Researchers are keen on defining this as “Swedish Naivism”. This problem definition should change name, it is nothing naïve going on here and has never been in the history of Swedish or western racism. Instead is a calculated strategy showing its ugly head. The effect of the silencing of ethnic minority groups is the most effective way to deliberately kidnap the right to react and criticize. This is exactly what happened and is happening in the gay right movement and the women rights movement. People who belong to these movements should reflect on these similarities and question status quo.
Sweden is today a population that consists of 28.6% that either has a status as a national minority or has foreign background. Within 10 years the second generation of immigrants will be bigger than the first. That these groups are not represented in the education of journalists, as co-workers in our cultural institutions or as members of the cultural organizations is a problem. Sweden has a cultural sector that is completely segregated . Because of this the cultural heritage Agents have decided to create a vision to ensure that this part of the population receives more representation.
The other problem we have is that we lack an understanding of Sweden’s racist past and how different groups have been stereotyped in our art forms. That is why our project analyses for example the connection between Afrofobia, Antiziganism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism In Swedish Film history to create understanding that we need new Swedish film that doesn’t relate to old prejudice. For this reason we have created a film festival in Stockholm named “The diversity of the Swedish film heritage the 24-25th of August.
It is only when we are in agreement that we have a problem that we can work for change together. It is when we reach representation in our culture and media sector, in the gay and women rights movement, when we are respected as cultural actors but also as respected cultural consumers, when we feel safe to react, that Sweden stops to feel like I am living in Russia.
In a new series of articles, black women living outside of Europe share their views from the other side. In our first article, Lorraine Spencer recalls her studies abroad.
In 1981, many of you were not even born. But I was 16 years old about to embark upon a sojourn as a summer exchange in what was then West Germany. I was only one of 5 black exchange students in the entire state of Indiana with the Youth For Understanding program. I had completed a short program in Saltillo, Coahuila Mexico the previous summer speaking Spanish. Now I was looking forward to speaking some Deutsch.
I had known about the trip months ahead of time but there was suddenly a strike that threatened my trip. The Air Traffic Controllers were grumbling and YFU sent out a letter to the students that our exchanges could be affected. I didn’t understand fully what was going on, but President Reagan squashed it and the trip was back on. So the time came and off I went to Germany.
I survived my first plane ride only to get to West Germany and get lost on the train. I did not get off at Rosenheim where my host family was waiting for me. That stop was actually the last stop in Germany so I went straight through to Salzburg, Austria. I felt too much time had passed so I asked someone. Then I got the news. I didn’t panic, after all what go would calling my mother thousands of miles away do? I just got off at Salzburg, bought a return ticket and waited. I didn’t have to wait too long. My host family drove over to get me. I wasn’t that hard to find. That was my first of many adventures.
I spent time in Bayern but most of my time was with a family in Saarland. I also had the opportunity to visit Denmark twice, Austria another time on a family trip, and France. I had a grand time in Germany making friends with whom I still keep in touch. One of my good friends told me that I always had something going on with me when I was there. She said, “Met dir war etwas immer loss.” I was a little diva, spoiled brat I admit, looking back I would not change much at all. Culture shock, language barriers and personalities aside, they loved me. Who would have known that all these years later I still reflect on the enriching experience I had? I have passed this international travel bug to my own daughter who wishes to go to Japan.
Sadly, not many black Americans take advantage of opportunities to travel abroad. By far there are many more black women (and people in general) going abroad now more than ever, but a simple unscientific poll will reveal that the number still remains low. I will always advocate for young black women and girls to study or travel internationally. It may open up a world of opportunities. I look at members of my own extended family who cannot imagine leaving their own states let along traveling abroad for anything. Still for those who have the bug, longing, desire, inhibitions, etc., they will find a way to get to where they want to go and be richer for the experience.
Here are just a few of the myriad of exchange programs for high school and college students to explore. A little research may uncover high school, university, religious and volunteer exchange abroad programs. You may also consider hosting a foreign student. My family hosted a student from Germany in our home when I returned.
Lorraine Spencer is a relationship coach and is the founder of Swirling and Marriage™. Although she writes for several genres, Lorraine loves children’s books and is in her element writing poems and adventures for children. She holds an M.S. in Human Resources Management and Development from National Louis University (1997) a B.S. in Western Language and Literature from Excelsior College (1993) an A.A degree from the University of Alaska (1991).
When not coaching, writing or doing research, Mrs. Spencer spends time with her husband Joe, and children Elijah and Charlotte who served as her inspiration.
Next month Nicole Brewer recounts her experiences teaching abroad.