Diaspora Culture & Politics
Malcolm X said, if chickens are raised in an oven they are called chickens, not biscuits. People on the continent of Africa just like people in the Diaspora have been visited by the same level of destruction. In Africa, as in the UK as in America, as in South America as in the Caribbean have devalued our own clothes. We have Nike in Africa as our uniform just like in the UK. A friend of mine from Tanzania at uni told me we in the Diaspora have no culture. I forgave him because he had never been to the Diaspora and Africans globally have a terribly poor education which goes both ways. It is shamefully poor. And it was made that way by the forces which enslaved us. The last thing they want us to do is to unite via our common identity. But the Diaspora, just like Ethiopia is Ethiopia and Benin is part of the African world. It is just that we are in the West now. In Africa, just as much as in the Diaspora, we do not wear our cultural clothes preferring to add value to Nike and Puma. In Africa, like the Diaspora, we value speaking English and being as far away from Africa as possible. Do not let the fact that Africans have a language confuse you, because what they think about that African language is just as much self-hate as the non-African speaking Diaspora. With exceptions in Ethiopia and West Africa all of our cultures have been destroyed to some degree. But our cultures in the Diaspora (just as in Africa) never stopped just because the boat dropped us off in the Americas. We at Ocacia are continuing that journey!
Diaspora primarily refers to the forced African Diaspora taken to the New World by the European slave trade in captive Africans. There is a second voluntary Diaspora made up of Continental Africans immigrating to the Western nations. The African Diaspora makes up most of the Africans we find in Latin America, America, the Caribbean, and Europe especially the UK. The world is ignorant of this massive Diaspora despite seeing us on TV all day long. They are unclear how we arrived in the West. In Africa people ask "Which country are you originally from" this is the legacy of poor education because they know about the Queen of England, The fate of the Jews but not their own Diaspora. Below is the triangle trade and today it is almost the same. Where we were leaving Africa as slaves, today we leave Africa in the form of brain drain because Africa has failed to utilize its greatest asset—her children. Today as then finished good come into Africa and raw materials leave. Ocacia exports finished goods. Finished premium goods.
We are the African Diaspora and that says way more about us than saying we are black people. There are no "black" cultures only African cultures found in the Motherland and the Diaspora. And the culture of the Diaspora did not stop just because slave ships dropped us off there.
It is hard to understand ourselves because for the last 500 Years we have been defined. So when we speak of the fluidity of our history and culture people often get confused. There seems to be this myth that once peoples from Africa arrived on the shores of the Caribbean and Latin America (where the majority of us went) that African culture was arrested and stopped dead in its tracks. But that could never be true because in language in religion in music on and on that culture carried on. I would say it is when slavery ended that we became even more Westernized and integrated so that Hollywood and Nike could target us better.
But do we actually have a continuation of our dress aesthetic? Of course, we do and you only need to correct paradigm to understand the discussion. Culture especially in recent years has been reconnected to the Motherland and taken from the Motherland but also deposited into the mother cultures of Africa. And people do not take stock of this. So we think that to be African means to wear Nigerian clothes. But Nigerian clothes are how old? Have they not, like the Diaspora in their modern set-up not borrowed (just like we have borrowed) from Asian, Islamic and European cultures? So modern African clothes and modern Diaspora clothes are equally African and equally authentic. Right in this moment, African culture is being extended every time we at Ocacia make a design.
EVERYTHING IS POLITICAL
You do not often see the politics of the brands that you wear and it is not because they fail to let you know, it is that we fail to attune our eyes to understand what their politics are is because we have been so brainwashed into a system of white supremacy that we cannot recognize their agency and our lack of agency. There are "black" people out there who would say Ocacia is too political for a business. That is very funny, we are only political if you lack the vision to realize how political business is. And when Africans are not properly represented in business that deals with true development it is very easy to mistake what seems like our radical stance for what is, for everyone else, business politics as usual. If you have noticed everything out of China is stamped made in China, so everything out of Ocacia is stamped Made in Africa (by Africans). Puma is very political. YouTube is extremely political. Because when Gaddafi or Mugabe transitioned did YouTube celebrate them? Okay, but they did celebrate the Queen and got political to support Ukraine. We did not see this as political. And this is what the word brainwashed means. When Indians celebrate their history (regardless of where they are in the world or how many generations removed from India) they do not call it brown culture, it is still Indian culture or Asian culture in the UK. We cannot see this despite all the work of our elders and ancestors from Karenga to Malcolm. We have Kwanzaa which makes it clear we are an African people, but still we cannot see the beauty of this.
So we have people who are turned off by African politics and Pan-Africanism. seeing it is counter to business. They are not so turned off by the racist white own capitalist companies that take all of their money. It is beyond ironic. They would hate Ocacia for promoting African identity and rejecting the racist version of African history and stupid black celebrity culture but not H&M or Ryanair (to mention two that were in the news for racism). But none of that has been seen as offensive. But saying Tupac is not serious history is offensive. Because someone, not looking like us, made Tupac, Biggie, Beyonce and Jay Z, Serena, Vanessa Williams, Tyler Perry, Viola Davis, Will Smith, and Jordan Peele our icons.