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Last month was my second month of writing on a series on African talents in the Netherlands. In that article - in the last paragraph, I stated the following:


Next month I propose to write about African men and women in the moving picture industry here in the Netherlands. Whether videographers, film professionals, TV professionals, actors or even TV broadcasters. This includes Dutch people or other nationals living in The Netherlands working with Africans. I invite readers to send me information about themselves or others who are if the moving pictures industry. Do so before the middle of next month. Write to: 


Before that, in April, I had written in paragraph three: … If no one reacts to a topic suggested, I will write a different article and explain the absence of that discussion thread. So write to me if you wish me to talk about your work, skills and talents. And if you think there is a talent or success group I should talk about, write about it. The majority will win the day…


Well, by the middle of last month, no one had reacted to this great opportunity for people to showcase themselves. So, I sighed, sat back and lamented that even though, without a shadow of a doubt, there are Africans here in the Netherlands in the movie / video business - both on established and on struggling terms, no one had come forward to talk about themselves. What a great chance to tell the world about yourself and yet not taken. So, as promised, I will talk about something else in this article… I am going to talk about something that came to my attention via a closed internet group, part of which I am. I have decided to share this with you all because it will, without a doubt, get you to think carefully about who you are as a person and who we of African heritage think of ourselves. It will confirm what our friends and lovers from other continents and regions of the world have always thought of us.


When we see so many pitiful and sad images about ourselves, we are wont to believe the worse and the saddest about ourselves. I know this is no news to many people, but I can’t help but repeat it - just in case some young person is reading this for the first time. We judge ourselves by the yard stick of those who have sought to raise themselves by suppressing the self-expression of others. And those who do this are not of any particular race or standing. As much Africans as Europeans, as much Asians as Australians, as much Islanders as continental inhabitants have had people amongst them fall prey to the malady of belittling us; and we have largely (though there are obvious changes taking place) accepted this as a people. Read the following piece and reassess your notion of your worth. And then next month, my African brothers and sisters, and all you sweet ones who love and sometimes suffer our African peculiarities and idiosyncrasies without giving up on us, I call on you all to tell me about African singers you believe deserve to be written about. I call on gospel, secular and other singers to tell me about themselves. I call lovers of Africans too to tell me about their music.  Let me talk about you, let me write about you, let me uphold, honour and validate you as you surely deserve.


Life Without Black People


An article taken from a communiqué sent to members of my Bhonbani (or mbonbani) Forum)


Before I take to the poignant bit of the article, let me give a brief preview of its beginning. It begins with a group of white Americans who, fed up with African Americans, wish they could live in a world without African (or black)  Americans. Coming together, they wish themselves away from the current America. They pass through a deep dark tunnel and emerge in sort of twilight zone where there is an America without black people.  At first the group breathe a sigh of relief.


'At last', they say, 'no more crime, drugs, violence and welfare. All of the blacks have gone!’ Then suddenly, reality set in. The 'NEW AMERICA' is not America at all. It is only a barren land.

1. There are very few crops that have flourished because the nation was built on a slave-supported system.

2. There are no cities with tall skyscrapers because Alexander Mils, a black man, invented the elevator, and without it, one finds great difficulty reaching higher floors.

3. There are few if any cars because Richard Spikes, a black man, invented the automatic gearshift, Joseph Gambol, also black, invented the Super Charge System for Internal Combustion Engines, and Garrett A. Morgan, a black man,
invented the traffic signals.

4. Furthermore, one could not use the rapid transit system because its procurer was the electric trolley, which was invented by another black man, Albert R. Robinson.

5Even if there were streets on which cars and a rapid transit system could operate, they were cluttered with paper because an African American, Charles Brooks, invented the street sweeper..

6. There were few if any newspapers, magazines and books because John Love invented the pencil sharpener, William Purveys invented the fountain pen, and Lee Barrage invented the Type Writing Machine and W. A. Love invented the Advanced Printing Press. They were all, you guessed it, Black.

7. Even if Americans could write their letters, articles and books, they would not have been transported by mail because William Barry invented the Postmarking and Cancelling Machine, William Purveys invented the Hand Stamp and Philip Downing invented the Letter Drop.

8. The lawns were brown and wilted because Joseph Smith invented the Lawn Sprinkler and John Burr the Lawn Mower.

9. When they entered their homes, they found them to be poorly ventilated and poorly heated. You see, Frederick Jones invented the Air Conditioner and Alice Parker the Heating Furnace. Their homes were also dim. But of course, Lewis
Lattimer later invented the Electric Lamp, Michael Harvey invented the lantern, and Granville T. Woods invented the Automatic Cut off Switch. Their homes were also filthy because Thomas W. Steward invented the Mop and Lloyd P. Ray the Dust Pan.

10. Their children met them at the door - barefooted, shabby, motley and unkempt.  But what could one expect? Jan E. Matzelinger invented the Shoe Lasting Machine, Walter Sammons invented the Comb, Sarah Boone invented the Ironing Board, and George T. Samon invented the Clothes Dryer.

11. Finally, they were resigned to at least have dinner amidst all of this turmoil. But here again, the food had spoiled because another Black Man, John Standard invented the refrigerator. ..


Now, isn't that something? What would this country be like without the contributions of Blacks, as African-Americans?


Martin Luther King, Jr. said, 'by the time we leave for work, millions of Americans have depended on the inventions from the minds of Blacks.'  Black history includes more than just slavery, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Marcus Garvey & W.E.B. Dubois.


*Barbara Gwanmesia is author, publisher and musical artist based in the Netherlands. She can be reached via

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