Celebrating rootlessness

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« I will love you
(you the sumptuous present)
of all my nomad’s memories
envious of the well
jealous of the source »
Ghaouti Faraoun
Pour une Danaïde

Painful, exile ? Without a doubt. But this painful separation opens up new horizons, starting with those involving the process of becoming singled out. A person who uproots him or herself becomes an individual, and has great difficulty returning to the fold again. The person is expected to be authentic, to be a witness of his or her original culture, but is caught in a permanent movement that nothing will arrest. He or she becomes caught up in the roll, forcing him or her to be from neither here nor there, and yet at the same time from here and from there, forcing him or her to dare to display his or her intimacy – that which lies in this half-way house of uncertainty and doubt – to dare to assume this dual belonging and lack of belonging, to dare to embrace a rootlessness no matter where one finds oneself, in exile both here and there, as exiled from the self. Face to face with the self, ultimately from nowhere and everywhere, the only way of sharing with other solitary souls what could be a common language, a foreign language within the dominant languages, a cosmopolitan reference which confuses the play of identities, a planetary language which solicits the origin so as better to surpass it. The works by artists from minority cultures enable their kind to exist, to be represented in the dominant culture, precisely to occupy that place which they are lacking, precisely to distinguish themselves from their origin in order to create new references, namely those of the present.
That takes some courage. The courage to break off from the sentimentality which positions them as victims of the world, rather than as responsible beings. The courage to reject a polemical radicalism which masks all forms of conservatism. The courage to refuse the reference of ethnic identity which discriminates and fosters hatred.
But, thinking against the self opens us up to life. This is the force that the African cultures offer us : that of being the cultures of a rootlessness, of a diaspora, constantly in movement, resisting, in search of a territory. Historic vicissitudes have helped them to fight against the fixations about identity, and they draw their modernity from their penchant for syncretism. Hybrid, constantly in formation, enriched by this perpetual movement, they show us that it is not protecting one’s integrity that counts, but, on the contrary, laying it open to danger. And that life does not lie in territory, but in the quest itself.

///Article N° : 5335


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