Thursday, November 17, 2005

Jand ID

Check this out - a nicely designed Jand site. I'm quite sure I know who's behind it. Its interesting to look in on the whole Jand phenomena and how its refiguring UK black culture and identity away from an historically Caribbean bias. Brief jottings on a blog like this can't do justice to the complexity of the topic but never mind:

The combination of second-generation Nigerian get-up-and-go mixed with a form of diasporic enquiry is generating a new form of black identity that does not align itself with the "black-british" mold. A different set of identity-conflicts present themselves based around the following:
1. Relationship with Mothership Nigeria
2. Relationship with historically black-british culture(s)
3. Relationship with white culture which differs from that of the inherited black cultural context.
4. Internal class relationships (often based around differing London postcodes - Peckham or Tottenham vs Hendon or NW London for instance).
5. Internal ethnic conflicts (often at one remove for second-generation Nigerians and therefore at risk of being idealised)

I'd like to hear more from second-generation Janders about the above - I'm sure we'll hear more about it from cultural theorists in the academy in years to come.

I'm also sure that just as British culture since the late 1950's has been immeasurably enriched by caribbean infusions, so too we are witnessing the beginnings of an Africanisation of that wonderful mongrel: British culture.


Nkem 5:13 am  
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Nkem 5:17 am  

This is one of the most intriguing dynamics in black British culture. The African element has helped remove the idea of the homogenous black community. You mentioned in an earlier blog the underachievement of Yoruba boys in London. Well, whenever school performance of minorities is discussed, the underachievement of Caribbean boys is mentioned, and when it comes to employment and levels of education, the Bangladeshi community is mentioned. The African community has opened up people's eyes to what the black community what it really is - people of the same colour, but of different cultural identities.

In my experience internal class relationships tend to be intertwined with internal ethnic relationships. Those at the higher end of the socio-economic spectrum tend to be from metropolitan areas of Lagos, Port-Harcourt etc, which are invariably more multicultural. The commonality is a strong middle class ethos, ethnicity takes a backseat. But in London, there is also a prevalent mocking sentiment about the minorities. It's what I call the "omo Ibo" phenomenon. London is Yoruba central, Birmingham is Igbo central (they even have New Yam festival). Among those at the lower end of the spectrum, ethnicity is more defined, but in a genuine rather than hostile manner. Since they're likely to be from rural areas, or parts of a metropolis with huge ethnic bias, interaction with someone from a different tribe is something the UK has afforded them. Ethnic conflict is played out in Nigeria when the subtext is really control of resources. HM Treasury controls the resources here.

"I could never live in south London" is a phrase one hears too often. But this phrase is becoming redundant because of social mobility in the UK. What you do for a living matters more than where you live. If you work in the city, Bethnal Green or Stratford might prove to have better transport links. You could live at the Elephant & Castle, and be at Whitehall in fifteen minutes. Living in NW London might indicate background and some family history (middle class/fairly affluent), but won't say much about the present.

Relationship with mother Nigeria is often one side of the coin, the other side being relationship with white culture. British Nigerians of all hues tend to be in between the two. They won't go out and get plastered every Friday night, but they also can't stand having to bribe their way through Murtala Muhammed customs. A tricky one.

Interesting points to note. The 2001 census showed that for the first time there were more black Africans than Caribbeans. Some immigration stats -

Impact on black British culture: the MOBOs had eight awards given to Brits, of which five were to people of African origin:

At the risk of writing a treatise...

Katharine 1:19 pm  

Nkem, I agree with your description of the 'middle class' Nigerians focusing on their values rather than their ethnicity. It was something that greatly puzzled me when I started hanging out with Nigerians in London. I wish more of you would celebrate your culture rather than your social standing as you have such a rich and varied history. In many ways I have found my Nigerian friends in London to have had a more traditional middle class white man's upbringing than myself, a girl from a middle class family who went to an inner city comprehensive. It continues to intrigue me.

Despite agreeing with Jeremy's comment that British culture has been enriched by the various nationalities that have chosen to settle on our shores, it has resulted in me feeling, at some times, a little lost as to my own identity, especially in London. What now defines an English woman?...I continue to comtemplate....

Funke,  4:42 pm  

What a great website, very refreshing to see different points of view from the diaspora, particularly in the articles section. Being half naija, half English, I can definitely identify with the confusion of which 'tribe' you belong to. I was always too English for Nigerians, and too African for English. Glad to see there are others out there who feel the same.

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