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The Multiracial African Identity

Swahili women, early 20th century

Black identity was reduced to the fraudulent racist labels imposed by white colonizers and slave masters in 1492. If the Arab powers began to sell black Africans almost a thousand years prior to the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade, white and Arab slave owners divided the colonial world into two specific categories which are black and white.

Lineages, heritages and cultures were thus erased and replaced by the concepts of “whiteness” and “blackness”.

Within the black sphere, where the greatest part of toxicity exists regarding identity, the individuals were so despised that their distinctions and various lineages were erased and reduced to their sole poor condition and skin color.

This reality is such that even today, white people or non-black minorities claim blackness whenever they were mistreated and socially rejected, since blackness in the West became synonymous with welcoming anybody, constant openness and total mental, spiritual and historical misery.

Multiracial and black Cape Verdeans cooking. Photo by Lovicarious Cecilia

Yet, after four hundred years, millions of individuals in the Western hemisphere are no longer black or white, but the products of the two over generations.

In their constant political oppression as they refuse to let the mixed-race category exist on its own out of low self-esteem, black Westerners still insist upon the fact of calling mixed individuals “black”.

In reality, especially when the black Westerners wrongly consider that their vision of the world when it comes to racial classification is the best and should be applied to everybody, it is the concept of racial admixture which needs to be re-understood.

In the modern black Western world, people can not identify themselves individually and are way too often forced to evolve through the vision of the group. It is the toxicity of blackness which is imposed upon the mixed groups, and not the pleasant and refined elements which can compose the black heritage, culture and identity.

In Africa itself, parts of the continent were totally held hostage by the colonial Arab power, as illustrated by North Africa and the Swahili coast, while Portuguese, some Spaniards rather focused on the coastal areas of the African continent.

There, the case of the multiracial Africans differs greatly from that of Brazil.

Indeed, the Multiracial Black Africans are both descendants of slaves and immigrants, yet, they remained in the continent. Places like Mozambique can be now inhabited by descendants of West African slaves or South African slaves who were sent there as enslaved merchandise. Though Mozambicans now, they were still descendants of slaves even though they remained on the continent.

Yet again, claiming that elements of multiracialism only took place following the slave trade in the Indian, Arab and Atlantic worlds is not right either. Indeed, way before the Arabs began to enslave the Africans, Africa, especially by the Eastern coast of the continent, was always a part of a great global trading machine through which goods transited, from ivory, wood, metal, food to oils.

Lamu girls

These exchanges not only consolidated the movement of population from the Horn to the interior of East Africa, but it also gave way to Asian, Iranian, Arab immigrations in East Africa as well.

These blendings led to new elements which composed black African countries. If Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Uganda, are black nations, a great portion of their cuisine incorporated Indian, Arab, Malay influences.

There, despite the 1964 Tanzanian rebellion which led to the massacre of descendants of Arab slave owners in Zanzibar, Eastern black Africans are not closed to the idea of racial fluidity, especially when Indian-Kenyans were recently recognised as an ethnic tribe by the Kenyan government.

The Great Lakes was also a region of multi-ethnicity where Rwandans, Burundians, Eastern Congolese, Ugandans and Sudanese kept interacting overtime.

It is extremely frequent to meet Rwandans with Ugandan, Congolese origins for example.

However, following the scramble of Africa and the political manipulation led by the Germans and Belgians, divisions took place where individuals previously lived in harmony.

In the Atlantic world, Angola, Cape-Verde and Sao Tome and Principe were Portuguese colonial creations it is true, but there again, the race mixing was used to justify the promotion of Lusotropicalism which claimed that the Portuguese empire did not see colors amongts its children.

The reality of a multiracial Africanness exists, yet, since the Swahili coast is rather connected to the Indian ocean and the Arabian peninsula, the black Westerners who want to promote the toxic idea of a monolith black identity or a standardized blackness based upon the One Drop Rule and oppression, the multiracial and multiethnic Africans are not understood at all by the black Westerners.

The latter have a hard time understanding the status of Afro-Arabs, Swahili people, or even the fact that Africans who remained on the continent could have been the direct descendants of slaves.

When it comes to identity, Cape-Verdeans and Angolans, who were clear colonial creations, the question is rather personal. Indeed, the Cape-Verdeans were the descendants of West African slaves who were forced to reproduce with the white slave owners, whether Portuguese, Italian or Spaniards. Whether they accept it or not, the Cape Verdeans are a colonial creation.

Consequently, the brutality of our conception leads us back to the violence of our roots which were found in the slave trade and colonial occupation.

Yet, there again, the concept of MGM or multi-generationnally mixed-raceness, is little to no explored, while Latin America mirrors some parts of Africa.

In this racial admixture, one notices that the pattern of immigration and slavery reflects that of South American and Caribbean countries.

If Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya are different from Suriname in terms of culture and heritage, the souls remain African, but the Indian presence in the nations aforementioned gave light to similar cultures, especially when it comes to cuisine.

In that sense, though Africa was said to be, by the European and Arab colonizers, a place with no interest at all which evolved in total backwardness, parts of the continent mirror that of the worlds, especially in South America.

Being multiracial and African refers to the fact of being an African individual made of multi-ethnic and multiracial elements over generations. Some of these groups can be monocultural, pure colonial creations which gave birth to a new culture on its own, while others can share several ones. The multiracial idea can also be extended to black populations which are not mixed with other non-black branches at all, but who evolve and embrace the multiethnicity of their surroundings.

Unfortunately, the multiracial element way too often comes from the problematic of slavery, and when not, it is due to regular immigration, though the stigma of the slave trade remains.

These multiracial black Africans do not share the same identity as monolith black African groups such as the Congolese, for example, who reject the idea of race-mixing and rather block any racially fluid individual to embrace the Congolese and the non-Congolese heritage at all.

It would also be impossible to impose Western racial structures upon them, since they have their own heritage.

Also, if many of them carry European blood whether from Spain, Portugal or Greece, the specificity of the multiracial Africans comes from the fact that the majority of their non-black African admixture comes from brown individuals, whether Asians from India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Austronesians or from the Arabian Peninsula. If we know that the original Arabs are black, others are also white, but the blackness of these multiracial people is similar to that of the black Arabs as well.

Therefore, the mixed-race identity should not only be restricted to that of biracialness in a disastrous Western society, when it incorporates many more aspects.

Once again, Africa remains home to the diaspora as parts of the continent accept the concept of racial admixture, thus not imposing any toxic identity heritage to those who embrace their DNA.

By Victoria “VKY” Kabeya, All Rights Reserved 2023

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