What did your grandfather think of your grandfather about the time?
How did your grandmother’s grandmother use water?
These are the kinds of questions a group of young people in Ontario ask themselves as they delve into their African heritage. It’s a way of “getting back on our own,” said Sarah Brooks, 23, group education director.
Calling themselves TRAD, they launched an online magazine, tradmag.ca, which weaves video, art, poetry and live virtual encounters to examine big questions through the prism of philosophy and the arts.
“It’s a community of ambitious and curious young people who are just trying to learn more about our history, our heritage,” said Brooks.
“I know that there is more to our history, our culture than what we have received … in the textbooks,” said Odogwu Chukky Ibe, 25, editor of TRAD magazine.
In one piece, a young writer reckons with the colonial history of languages she feels obligated to learn and those she is invited to downplay in her native Cameroon, a country whose official languages are English and French. Writer Marquise Kamanke describes her mother encouraging her to work on her French, the language associated with status in the French-speaking part of Cameroon where they lived. But it came at the expense of the dialects her parents spoke, and it meant she couldn’t bond with her grandmother using the Bapa dialect like a friend did.
Another writer explored Somali traditions around timing, connected to the solar and lunar cycles. An upcoming series of online events, starting February 5, asks artists about their take on justice. TRAD is also Fund raising for a video project entitled “Africans explain everything”, focusing on Afro-Caribbean cultural and traditional worldviews on topics such as time, language, seasons and music.
The founders of TRAD come from different cultural backgrounds. But they have in common the desire to explore African and Caribbean culture and traditions.
Brooks was born in Hamilton and raised in Guyana, raised by a French-Canadian mother and a Guyanese father. She relates most to the Caribbean culture of Guyana and identifies as black. “I have no idea where my ancestors came from,” she said. “I asked (my parents), but they don’t know.”
“I know that there is more to our history, our culture than what we have received … in textbooks,” said Odogwu Chukky Ibe, 25, editor of TRAD magazine. #culture #heritage # edition
Conversation at TRAD often centers on “remembering, retrieving and reconstructing our ancestral history,” which Brooks is unable to do. “So for me it’s more about the general idea of agency and understanding who we are as a people, understanding culture. ”
Someone who grew up with more information about their ancestors may have a different experience, she said.
Ibe is originally from southeastern Nigeria and came to Canada as an international student at the age of 16. He identifies as Black, Igbo and Nigerian, and his parents still live in Nigeria.
Ibe and Brooks studied at McMaster University in Hamilton, where they were involved in a student club called Afrocentric Ideals. This club hosted events and learning opportunities, and eventually became TRAD after focusing on a small business incubator in Hamilton.
Establishing the club in McMaster had its perks: an obvious hangout (a cafe on campus), a pool of like-minded people nearby. The effort is about the kind of companionship and empowerment that can arise when young people learn and make connections. But pursuing it outside of a strictly institutional framework is fascinating for Ibe and Brooks.
“We become more aware of our place in the world, we become more mature,” said Brooks.
Even though TRAD highlights and creates space for black culture, they see the effort as something that appeals to human curiosity across origins and cultures.
“My South Asian friends, for example, (when) I talk about some of these ideas and then they start thinking… I said.
With a new grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the group plans to apply the stories and artwork they collect to curriculum, discussions and lesson plans for teachers in Toronto. , Hamilton and Ottawa.
Leo Nupolu Johnson is Executive Director of Empowerment Squared, a Hamilton-based nonprofit that assisted TRAD with grant funding. This suited her non-profit organization’s mission perfectly to provide education and recreation to newcomers and marginalized youth. The partnership means that the new organization gets help with receiving and processing grants, such as invoices and accounting.
What Ibe and Brooks are doing with TRAD is an example of community building that complements the ongoing fight against injustice and racism, Johnson said.
“The fighting is important because to some extent only the fighting has kept some of us alive,” Johnson said. But all combat must go hand in hand with efforts to build, create and nurture the spirit, he said.
I am okay.
“We need everyone,” he said. “It’s the same thought, the same breath, the same mind and a different action. In North America and around the world, we have all come to take back our lives. ”
Kelly Bennett / Local Journalism Initiative / National Observer of Canada