August 26, 2012

African Summer Camp visit

Me and the mini-queen :) She was my fave!
So these past few days have been quite exciting for me, as I got to make a couple of appearances here and there. The first one was this past Thursday at the African Summer Camp of the Waterloo Region (near the Guelph-Wellington area - where my family lives). The fact that it was practically around where I lived was the first thing that made it pretty cool, because I had no idea of how developed the African Canadian community was in that region. Well, we spent the day at a very nicely groomed park, where we were introduced to the kids, played with them, and had lunch. The camp's organiser: Jacqui, a Tanzanian lady, was great to watch because you could see how much she enjoyed interacting with the kids and how passionate she was about this project. The camp's main goal is to instill or reinforce a sense of confidence and pride in the children, about their blackness and African heritage. So, of course I had great expectations about what would unfold during our visit. I was a bit nervous about interacting with the children, because unless you know them personally, they tend to be unpredictable and in the past I haven't always known how to handle that. But these children were extremely welcoming, I mean, as soon as we broke the ice and started feeling comfortable around each other I really grew to like them. They had so much character and energy that it put me at ease, and encouraged me to do their activities with them, instead of standing back to watch.And honestly, looking back, I can see that these were the things I was hoping to be able to do as Ms AfriCanada anyway. Working with people hands-on; to have an impact on them as they have an impact on me. Click HERE for extra pics of this day, after you're done viewing these ones.

Elsewhere, another thing that struck me was what Jacqui mentioned to us about one of the little campers, who had trouble accepting her identity and her appearance as a black girl. That resonated with me and it  touched me, because I think that for most of us who grew up in the West (North America and Europe) we faced similar problems of low self-esteem regarding our physical appearance. For me, personally, as a young girl I always dealt with feeling uglier than my white classmates because my perception of beauty equated having light skin and soft hair. It's cliché and cheesy, I know, but it's true! I really did use to admire my other classmates, and consider myself ugly. Other factors played into my low self-esteem of course, but nonetheless, those were some major reasons. And for me, I think that this ideal of white femininity is definitely more of an entire Western (and even global) societal concept, rather than just black people feeling this way because they're a minority outside of Africa... It's one of the legacies of colonialism, I studied it in depth in university; where dark skin was associated with inferiority in all forms, and lighter skin was gradually associated with privilege... but we won't get into all that, because it would turn into another article. It was just interesting to know that this girl who couldn't see the value and the beauty in herself, was being praised and admired by us -before we even knew about her issues of self-esteem. So it just went to show how important and impacting our visit that day must've been for those children, because as Jacqui said in her own words; we were able to show them through my title as Ms AfriCanada how insignificant physical elements of ourselves such as black skin and coarse hair are, in relation to who we are internally and the potential we have to accomplish marvelous things.



SO amazingly CUTE!
P.S. After our visit in Waterloo, Fidelia, Zainab and I had a little chilling, here's a few random pics.

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