The founders of Black Achievement Month Netherlands (John Leerdam) and Black History Month Belgium (Aminata Ndow and Mohamed Barrie) discuss the origins and idea behind their organizations and how they grew.
They are joined by Mitchel Esajas (co-founder of The Black Archives) to discuss the history of The Black Archives in Amsterdam, as well as the importance of archiving for Black communities and how this BHM BE 2021, themed “Collecting Our Past and Future: Archiving and Documenting the Past, Future and Present of Black People in Belgium”, can be an effort towards building a similar comprehensive Black Archive in Belgium.
The talk is moderated by journalist and author Sabrine Ingabire. With an artistic intervention by poet, artist and jurist Babeth Fonchie.
Recorded on the 4th of March 2021.
Aminata Ndow is a historian with Belgian and Gambian roots, and a passion for research. Broadly speaking, her research interests include historical culture and memory practices; postcolonial criticism and the cultural, social, and political worlds of African peoples on the continent and in the diaspora. She is one of the three founding members of the first Black Student Union in Flanders, AYO (African Youth Organisation) and co-coordinates Black History Month Belgium.
Mohamed Barrie is a social worker and coordinates the girls' and women's division of football club City Pirates. The past years he has been contributing mostly in Antwerp through his work as a writer (journalist – columnist), youth worker, DJ-Selector and organizer of events both in the cultural and youth work scenes. He is one of the three founding members of the first Black Student Union in Flanders, AYO (African Youth Organisation) and co-coordinates Black History Month Belgium.
Mitchell Esajas is co-founder of New Urban Collective, a network for students and young professionals from diverse backgrounds with a focus on the Surinamese, Caribbean and African diaspora. Esajas studied Business Studies and Anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In 2016 he co-founded the Black Archives in Amsterdam, a cultural center based on a unique collection of books, documents and artefacts documenting the histories of Surinamese and Black people in the Dutch context. The Black Archives develops exhibitions and public programs based on the collections and urgent societal issues.
Sabrine Ingabire grew up between Brussels and Flanders and lives in Amsterdam. She is a National Editor at NRC and an intersectional feminist writer. Her first novel Le chemin vers le bonheur (Editions Chloé des Lys) was published in 2016. She contributed to the anthologies Zwart (2018, Atlas Contact), Le Ravage d'Ali Baba (2019), De verovering van Jupiter. Over de dekolonisatie van de geest (2020, Jurgen Maas Publishers) and Being (Imposed Upon) (2020, Onomatopee Projects). She also co-curated Being (Imposed Upon).
Babeth Fonchie is a poet, maker and master of laws. Quests and the raw version of life are central themes in her work. She challenges you to look beyond the first impression. She has written poems for online feminist magazine LilithMag since 2019. Her work has appeared on Hard // Hoofd, in Kluger Hans, De Groene Amsterdammer and magazine ELLE. In 2020 she was selected for Vers van het Mes and for the Writer's residency of deBuren. In that year she was invited to read in the leafy corridors of the Poets festival in the Prinsentuin. In the summer of 2020 she performed at the festival Into the Great Wide Open. This performance was shown on NPO2extra (Dutch national TV). From 2021 on, she will take part in the fellowship of the Slow Writing Lab. She is currently working on her first book (poetry) at publishing house Uitgeverij De Geus.
Black History Month Belgium is an annual celebration, during the month of March, of the Black communities of Belgium, in the present and the past. It is an attempt to transform the way in which we represent the past and the present through conversations, exchange moments, lectures, film, debates, performances and exhibitions. Through a people's history from below (the past told from the perspective of everyday people instead of leaders), BHM BE strives to make history more honest/truthful and inclusive, regardless of our socio-economic, ethnic or cultural backgrounds. The ultimate motivation is to demonstrate the importance of conserving and promoting cultural diversity and the right to culture for everyone in our society. The theme for BHM BE 2021 is Collecting Our Past and Future: Archiving and Documenting the Past, Future and Present of Black People in Belgium. Aminata Ndow and Mohamed Barrie are the co-founders and national coordinators of BHM BE.
Black Achievement Month introduces the Netherlands to the 'Black' history of the Netherlands through exhibitions, debates, theater, dance and film. Stories are told about the slave trade, slavery and its legacy, but it also looks to the future. For example, Black Achievement Month offers a stage for Black role models and the special performances they deliver. BAM was initiated by John Leerdam in collaboration with NiNsee. Leerdam is currently BAM's project leader.