Tag Archives: business

Nation Building

Today, after a morning in town, where I received scornful glances for wearing a Nigerian cloth headscarf, I dreamt of moving to Africa and being surrounded by dark, African people. I daydreamed about blending in with my sisters at the market, of dancing to the drumbeat and watching my son play soccer with the boys–children who looked just like him. 

  But, repatriation is not that simple for many Africans in the Diaspora. Especially, as a single mom in Canada, I’d be trading one oppression for another! I live in a town that is 95% White, which keeps me very aware of the unyielding white supremacist attitudes towards Black people on a daily, constant basis. But this awareness is not a negative thing. If you do not like where you are living, then make it great! 

   Canada has great potential for nation-building and connecting with the Motherland without making a dramatic decision like repatriation. I have visited the West Indies, US, England and France and I do like living in Canada. I am afraid of ladybugs, I don’t think I’d do well with flying cockroaches and geckoes. 

   But as a Canadian who is aware and empowered of my link to the Motherland and the connection to other Africans in the Diaspora, I know that we have a unique advantage in Canada to nation build, unite and conquer. We do not face civil unrest and economic struggles like in Africa, or violent racism South of our border in america. Black Canadians have education, opportunity and the added benefit of having the most diverse city in the world (Toronto). 

  I am trying my best to funnel my money towards African owned businesses, and Black businesses that are interested in solutions towards Black liberation by starting funds or charities, by creating art  or literature, etc. Some Canadians are way ahead of me

  But, on a smaller scale, we can be the change we wish to see in our community. In my predominantly white community, I have created a reputation for myself as an unapologetically African wombman. I may not be particularly liked or welcomed, but the community sees me and I particularly go out of my way to connect with the small Black community. If a small, white town can emphasize African unification; so can the main cities like Ottawa, Vancouver and Montreal. We nation build by uniting, despite our differences, so we may come out of bondage and start a new era where across the whole world, the African people can be empowered and be free from oppression. 

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Black Support

   It is one thing to see the call for social justice rung on social media, but another to experience Black unity in my own city, my own community. I have never in my life experienced that here in Toronto and I want to share with you my experiences of Black unity.

   Yesterday evening, casually sitting on a bench at Dufferin and Bloor Street in the dying sun, I notice a throng of beautiful, Black women around me. Slim, natural Afro hair in simple but stately styles, and bronzed skin gleaming. Today, a spritely Black woman shakes my head and introduces herself and continues along her way. A few feet away, two young Black men stop to talk, both business owners and with obvious respect to one another. I watched all this with an incredulous smile, watched as a Black mother nursed her baby openly at the park and as a West Indian father chased his daughters with their adorable braided pigtails.

    I have to go buy injeera on Dufferin and King St, and as I do, my friend tells me to go support Plentea, a hip tea bar up the street that just opened and owned by two, strapping young Black men. We have coffee at Jal Gua Organic Cafe, owned by South Sudanese philanthropist Emmanuel Jal on Queen Street East. I try the delicious sorghum soup. I take a picture with Jal.

   I pass a homeless Black man lying filthy under the bridge that divides poorer Parkdale from trendy Queen West. I give him a silent prayer. Our people are coming together, we are uniting and supporting each other and in doing so strengthening ourselves collectively and powerfully. We are lifting each other up, opening shops, salons, working on Master  degrees and ditching the perm. We will not forget our brothers in the prisons, our unconscious brothers still in the slums, our sisters stuck in the cycle. Right now it is quality over quantity, but soon it will be the masses. Montreal may have been the Black Power movement of the 1960s, but Toronto is pushing, pulling and fighting it’s way to Black liberation through the support of our own people. This light, this is the light we must hold on to.