Why Don’t We Call Ourselves African Australians?

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to participate in a documentary on the Ethiopian youth who live in commission housing in a suburb called Carlton.

Considering my shallow understanding of the topic area, I invited along a friend of mine from church -  big up to U – who just happened to be of Ethiopian descent and happened to be working in the migrant resource centre (not in Carlton though).

Interesting Question

As the conversation flowed from this topic to that we eventually rested upon a very interesting idea.

I forget exactly what we were talking about but I remember a statement that went a little something like this……..


That Didn’t Sit Well With Me

As soon as I heard that statement, I felt quite uncomfortable. Something about that statement was very very wrong: it wasn’t true.

So I asked U, who was born in Australia by the way, what she thought of the statement and she said she felt uncomfortable with the statement as well.

The Statement……

Just didn’t resonate with us. We didn’t feel as though we were African Australian or part of an African Australian community.

Discussions and Reflections

As I thought back to living here in Oz, I realized that any time I met a son or daughter of the African continent that they would introduce themselves as:

Hi, my name is X………I was born in/My parents are from/ My background is (insert African country here).

It didn’t matter if they had been in the country 6 months or 30 years, that is always how they introduce themselves.

Even people who love this country ten times more than they love their own never ever called themselves African Australian.

Here’s My Take on Why That Could Be

I am fairly certain, now that I think about, that this will probably resonate with a lot of Africans who are living in many other countries whether South Africa, Sweden, the UK or the US.

I think the reason that we don’t label ourselves us African Australians or African Americans or Zambian Swedes or even Kenyan South Africans is because we don’t feel like we are.

How gorgeous is this image?......My goodness: had it on the blog for months but can't get over it. 

Well D’uh….so Let’s Probe Deeper

I think we have a wonderful mirror that we can use to help us establish why that is the case: the African American community.

African Americans, whether anyone likes it or not, OWN,  a part of America. They sweat for it, bled for it, protested for it, defined it and absolutely no one can deny that African Americans are a quintessential cornerstone of America in so many ways that we can’t even begin to mention here.

We on the other hand are more like a people who constantly feel like we are in transition.

One Small Mark for Africa

Very few of us are interested in becoming a part of the fabric of Western society, etching our own sketch of the American dream, owning the society, changing the cultural norms or anything that profound.

Most Africans just want to land here and fulfill their appetite for milk and honey and maybe spread some of that milk and honey to their families and/or folks they care about, and that’s it.

Very few of us come to the West wanting to be the next Martin Luther King or CJ Walker or Michael Jackson. We would much rather be nameless employee X as long as we can take our money and go home.

Is This Right or Wrong?

Dunno! And I know its not a complete expression of why things are as they are. Therefore in conclusion I will ask you the question:

Do you feel like an African (insert name of host country here). If so, why? If not, why not?

And that is my reflection for the day.

Other Orders of Business: Media

After crafting my first ever press release a few months back and watching it completely bomb when I sent it to about 15 media houses, I finally got on the front page of a newspaper…..well kinda.

If you check out the homepage of the African Bulletin this month of September 2008, you will see yours truly and the physical copy is in the mail, and you know I will shoot a small video and share my first ever newspaper article with y’all.

So check out, and maybe subscribe to the African Bulletin because I can now say I have a vested interest in it: I am locked in for another two or three articles in the paper at the very least.

I also got interviewed by Susan Kariuki for her pilot project Real Talk. Susan’s production quality is superb and definitely made me want to up my game as far as the production quality of my podcast is concerned, not to mention she gave me heaps of useful information for my currently-in-the-oven-podcasting course: My Podcasting Tutor.

The file is only 2mb so anyone should be able to listen to it: lemme know if its still too big or too slow to download:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Please show your support and love to her by checking out her smooth-music-dripping-whiz-bang-graphics-adorned site: www.ezvocal.com.

And of course, both these articles are in the Displaced African media and press appearances page which you can check out right here.

For more articles that discuss the African immigrant experience, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog via email or RSS.

Have a great day African person,


No Comments

  • By Pink M, September 3, 2008 @ 10:46 pm

    They even had a photo? Yay! As usual I lift my imaginary champagne glass and toast thee!
    That was a nice article, kinda sum’s up your initial blog entries really well. Now that I read you’re already minting money my job application is on the way :)

    I’m happy for you even if it means that your blog kinda loses relevance to those of us not in the diaspora, it’s good that you’re achieving what you set out to do.

  • By Mwangi - the Displaced African, September 9, 2008 @ 5:45 am

    @Pink M: What the heck?! I was browsing through the blog and realized that you had left a comment and I never even saw it. What’s going on there? Thanks for the toast. My relevance and the practical effect I am having on people’s lives is definitely heavy on my mind of late. I definitely want to magnify that immensely. I think now I have enough of a “name” and sound semi-important so all doors won’t be shut to me. I am definitely zeroed in on how to use all this……..

    Lol! I didn’t specify the amount and that’s where the gift of gab comes in :P

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