Africa + Culture = Creativity

November 1, 2011

Before I started ‘The Afroklectic Project’, I was on the train on my way home from Uni. I was about the get off the train and an African man (in his 50s or so) sparked a conversation with me. He asked me the general questions, where are you from? Were you born here? How long have your parents been here? Do you study/What do you study?
What started as a friendly conversation turned sour when I told him I study design. He gave me a dirty. A fatherly look of disapproval. Like I had disowned him in some way. In a rude tone he said ‘Design. Why do you do that?’ I told him because it’s what I wanted to do so I am doing it. Then I got off the train, but I couldn’t get the look on his face out of my mind. Why did he do that? What is wrong with design? But all at the same time, I wasn’t surprised. I have had people say to me ‘I can’t believe your parents let you do that. Mine wouldn’t’, ‘Interesting. Black people don’t usually do those kind of things’, ‘Your parents must be really cool to let you do that’, ‘Wasn’t your Dad angry?’ etc. I have laughed at all those questions, but never really took note because they were questions from people I knew (mostly Ghanaian people). So to me they were just typical questions from oblivious people. But the gentleman on the train, was the icing on the cake! I was quite and still am curious about his reaction.

As part of my experiential research for re-branding Afroklectic, I interviewed young African-Australian creatives asking them about their practice, culturing holding them back in their practice and if they felt that creativity was encouraged in African culture as a whole. Most answered that it wasn’t and it’s the parents who seem to disregard it, but a new emergence has started to occur and people are beginning to appreciate and take notice. It brought me back to the incident on the train and why is there an issue about being a creative? Have you had similar reactions from people about your creative practice?


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