The second episode of this series reveals the ongoing struggles of immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean to achieve rights, form communities and have their contributions to French society recognised.
During World War II, Africa once again answered France’s call to battle, but this time the motivation was different. Black soldiers were not just fighting for France; they were combating the racist ideologies of Nazi Germany.
But while France and the allies defeated the Axis with the help of black soldiers, the war for social justice was only gearing up across the French colonial empire.
In 1945, during France’s post-war elections, blacks saw their first major victory. More than 60 overseas deputies were sworn into France’s National Assembly. One year later, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion and French Guiana became French departments following 300 years of colonial rule.
Departmentalisation, and then President Georges Pompidou’s decision to establish the Office for the Promotion of Migration in the early 1960s, opened a door between France and its departments. Almost 200,000 blacks immigrated to French cities in search of education and work.
But they faced poverty, racism and segregation. And they struggled to gain acceptance in cultural, academic and social realms of French society.
In May 2013, France’s National Assembly successfully voted on a bill to remove the words ‘race’ and ‘racial’ from the country’s penal code.
French President Francois Hollande ran on a platform promising to eliminate the word ‘race’ from France’s constitution. But critics were quick to point out the disparity between constitutional reform and actual practice.
Between one and five million French citizens claim African or Caribbean heritage. These numbers are, however, estimates, as population censuses do not recognise race.
For over a century, black immigrants, though never officially identified as different, were treated as ‘others’.
Even today, of France’s 577 members of parliament, only five are black.
This three-part series tells the story of blacks in France – a long history of segregation, racism, protest, violence, culture and community building – from the turn of the 20th century until the present day.
The first episode of this three-part series looks back on what it meant to be both black and French in the decades before France’s African colonies achieved independence.
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“.