Winter 2023 In Dance

Jameelah: I’m excited to see the people… I feel like a strong calling, like there’s this miss- ing piece to my story, a piece to a puzzle, just about our ancestors and slavery, so I’m feel- ing like, um – also the similarities, as a Black woman in America, just going over there and seeing how we all move together…. Michael: Is anyone frightened that they’re going to get there and find out that damn, I’m too American for Africa…… ?

way that we have and I’m gonna be in that way….

Kanukai: That’s the biggest thing for me, just being grounded in knowing that I have all these amazing women with me that are gonna help me stay in myself so I can show up in a very respectful way… Some of the places we’re gonna go are very sacred, so how can we show up – not every Nigerian, not every Igbo person is allowed to be in those places, y’know. So, how do I show up without the ‘I’m African, I’m Zimbabwean, we’re cousins and I should be allowed to go in here because we’re doing research,’ y’know? That’s where I’m at. Michael: Talk ‘bout complicated, but it has to be, right! I mean, I’ve never been and so I only have an idea of Africa, but there’s a truth that must hit you the minute you step off that plane, I imagine. There’s no way this trip can just be about dance or even about Igbo tradi- tions, is all I’m trying to say… Going to Africa can’t just be about any one thing…. Kanukai: Yeah, but some things are just cultural, y’know? I don’t know if this happens in Nigeria, but elderly women [in Zimbabwe), they can literally, just randomly, come up and touch your boobs, if they like you…

Jameelah: Yeah, When you originally asked the question I said ‘no,’ ‘cus I was thinking about this idea of blending in, but listening to Ebonie and Nkei speak, I’m like, yeah, I coming out there like a California girl, but I’m not gonna be like some boujee bitch, y’know! Hahahaha…

Uzo: But you will be, hahahah!

Jameelah: No, yeah, right!? Hahaha! I started thinking about that too, hahaha… Like, when I went out to Haiti they had a different way of doing things, like washing clothes! It took me all day to wash my clothes and they were like, ‘do you want me to do it for you?’ and Imma, ‘No! I got it,’ hahaha…..!

Jameelah: Nooo…..


Roshonda: The Africans here look at us dif- ferently, so I’m sure they’re going to look at us differently over there. Michael: An African American friend of mine told me that the only place he’s seen as American is in Africa.

Michael: Uzo?

Uzo: Yeeaaah….

Michael: Hahahaha, I like that tone…

Uzo: This is so interesting ‘cos I struggle with the identity issues too. I speak one of the languages, but even with that – I’m not fluent, I do my best, but there’s all these dia- lects and it takes but two seconds before they

Ebonie: I agree.

(Everybody Laughing)

Michael: Speak on that.

Kanukai: It’s nothing sexual, but ….This has happened to me in Zimbabwe and Togo, and they were just checking to see if I’m okay…. y’know, babies…. (Everybody REALLY laughing!)

go, ‘Oooooh, she’s not from around here – Imposter!’ Hahaha! So, then I have to prove that I am, prove that I’m not, depending on the spaces I’m in… Some spaces I wanna flex, y’know, because it gets shit done, but then other places you don’t want them to know you’re American so the code switching is real! It brings up a lot of insecurities for me – ‘Where am I from, for REAL!’ Michael: Kanu, it must be different for you as I assume you go back and forth pretty reg- ularly….

Ebonie: When I went to Africa the first time there were maybe five Americans, including myself, some Africans, and there was also some Black folks from around the diaspora. The Americans and the other folks from the diaspora got along, the Africans got along with people from other parts of the diaspora, but the Africans didn’t like the Americans. The Africans from the continent didn’t under-

The loss of loved ones is not just about people, they also take with them the questions that you can never ask, the mysteries that you can never solve. – NKEIRUKA ORUCHE

Nkeiruka: Hahahaha! The one thing I would say is that in Nigeria the respectability around women is really high, so I definitely have some anxiety around like – what’s the pre- sentation about how we dress, what our hair is gonna look like ‘cos I know that – this group, they will look at them and be like, ‘Oh, these are prostitutes,’ I just know it. The role of women in Nigeria is to present yourself in all these pro- scribed manners so you don’t get disrespected – class also plays into that, depending on where you are…. Here, like, you can be of any kinda class, you can look any kinda way, but obviously it’s worse and worse the darker you are. I mean, rich white men, obviously, can be whatever, but over there if you’re not presenting yourself as a “Madam,” people in the street feel they can treat you any kind of way.

Roshonda: Mixed emotions, of excitement and uncer- tainty…. Like, um, like not scared, but, um, what’s another word for scared?

stand why I knew what they knew, which was interest- ing…. but the Africans from the continent did the stuff that we do here in America, does that make sense? Dancewise, they were doing poppin n lockin and shit, but they didn’t like that I could do African movement, yet their main style of dancing was poppin n lockin, but they had no under- standing of the culture behind it. I’m not going there with no kind of anything, I feel like I’ve done that before – last time I thought it was gonna be a ‘coming home moment,’ and niggas was like, ‘Errrr….? ‘ What the fuck! Hahahaha! So, it’s like, I dunno what to expect, hahahha….. Nkeiruka: It’s gonna be interesting because going there with this group – I’m not going to be there with my fam- ily, y’know, where I’m just one of many and not really noticed. I’m gonna be vibing off what we have and be in that comfort zone – it’s a way, y’know what I mean? It’s a

Jameelah: Anxious?

Kanukai: Um, Um, Um, I’m looking forward to, um, I’m trying not to have too many expectations and I’m trying not to have the confidence of ‘I’m African….’ Michael: I love the way you put that – ‘Trying not to have the confidence of I’m African…’ Kanukai: I know we’re gonna have moments where we shouldn’t have said something, but I’m really excited to be in Nigeria with all Black women, I’m not gonna lie –

Roshonda: Yeah, that too…. I was going to go to Angola for dance, but the pandemic hit and my flight was canceled.

Jameelah: It’s just now feeling real…. when my passport came yesterday…… It makes me think about my parents, my siblings, the folks who have never traveled in my family…. Ebonie: This will be my first time going with folks I know. The first time was to Senegal for dance and I didn’t know anyone.

Michael: Uzo, you wanna throw in a quick thought on this…?



in dance WINTER 2023 22

WINTER 2023 in dance 23

In Dance | May 2014 |

unify strengthen amplify unify strengthen amplify

44 Gough Street, Suite 201 San Francisco, CA 94103

Made with FlippingBook - Online Brochure Maker