The Blog Spot

An ongoing series of Black narratives


February 14, 2017

Zanzibar Part 2

The night had started as simple as any other. To be honest, the only thing on my mind was sitting around, having a drink, and good conversation.Like many of the hotels in Zanzibar, the Sagando Hotel in the Michamvi area was set up as a cross between a resort and a local village. Though it was enclosed, rather than pools and fancy seating and accommodations, you saw hammocks, bonfires, and tree house like bungalows.

I had been chatting up two women whom happened to be both Black and mixed (one of which was actually half Tanzanian) when a local man joined the conversation. Not long after, he began referring to the two women as “cappuccino mzungu”, which, from what I can tell, meant Black-white person. I quickly but respectfully attempted to correct him by saying, “No, brother. They are Black. You- Black. Me- Black. Her, her- both Black. We’re all Black. ”

At this point, a one-on-one between the young brother and myself began. He explained to me how he felt Black Americans didn’t relate to or care about Africa and that Obama doesn’t work hard. After discovering that some Ethiopians weren’t aware of how slavery has made it all but impossible for Blacks in America to trace their lineage and establish a true connection to any particular part of Africa, I wondered if the trend I was really seeing was the extent to which we, Blacks in America, are disconnected from the Blacks of Africa. I quickly confirmed that he too was uninformed how impossible it is for the vast majority of us to trace our heritage. I also found that he did not know that us American Blacks actually refer to Africa as the Motherland and as The Continent. I firmly assured him that while we are indeed disconnected, many of us are only kept from visiting home by financial constraints and not a lack of love for Africa.

We then went to his point of Obama. I myself have mixed feelings about our president, but laziness is not at the root of that. After a quick explanation of the stereotypes of Blacks in America, my young brother asked me the race question- “Is there still racism against Black people in the U.S. like we hear?” I looked in directly in the eyes and told him:

“Racism is everywhere! Do you know what language they speak in the Ivory Coast? Do you know what language they speak in Cameroon? In Namibia? Do you think these people just decided one day to abandon their own language? Do you think so many African countries just chose to be colonies?! That is Racism. And that is why we must stick together- Black people here, Black people every where!”

After that, we discussed how Blacks in Africa do not know much about the lives of Blacks in America and vice versa. A disconnect that causes us not to see we are still one. The young brother soon got quiet, and I could see him turning over the things we discussed in his head. As I sat there I realized that this conversation must be had everywhere that I go and as often as possible. I also knew that it couldn’t continue to be one sided with me leading the discussion. To continue connecting I must listen as much, if not much more, than I speak. I found a new but surmountable challenge on the road to a much bigger goal; to build unity across the Black Diaspora.

Justin Sankara