Saturday, December 14, 2019
Add this page to Blinklist Add this page to Del.icoi.us Add this page to Digg Add this page to Facebook Add this page to Furl Add this page to Google Add this page to Ma.Gnolia Add this page to Newsvine Add this page to Reddit Add this page to StumbleUpon Add this page to Technorati Add this page to Yahoo


ideas have consequences

You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>>Igbo in Japan: Cultural Ambassadors for Nigeria and Africa
Friday, 14 June 2013 16:35

Igbo in Japan: Cultural Ambassadors for Nigeria and Africa

Written by Dreux Richard
Igbo japanese cultural display in Osaka Igbo japanese cultural display in Osaka Photo: Japan Times

As Japanese business looks again at Africa, expatriate troupes share cultural treasures with their adopted land

 

Click for more: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/06/11/issues/japans-nigerians-see-symbol-of-change-in-masquerade/#.UbtGG-e-oms

 

Anyone wandering the back streets near Omiya Station at 7:20 a.m. on Sunday, June 2, might have passed a particular office building, unremarkable except for two African men standing on a 2nd floor balcony, rope in hand, lowering a car-sized Ugo (eagle) costume down to the parking lot. One of them was Tony Ikeotuonye, chairman of the Anambra State Union, one of Japan’s two largest Nigerian immigrant civic associations. He had slept lightly and awoken at 6 to begin loading costumes into a Nippon Rent-a-Truck, a process culminating in the curious scene that greeted passersby that morning in Saitama.

 

This was the unglamorous prelude to an African masquerade performance more than two years in the making. Ikeotuonye and the costumes were expected in Yokohama by 10 at Africa Fair, the public face of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). They were to take the stage at noon, and theirs would be the sole scheduled event representing the diaspora that links Japan to Africa.

 

For Ikeotuonye, it was gratifying to find himself only 70 km and a few hours away from showtime. The idea of establishing a masquerade troupe in Japan had initially provoked a great deal of skepticism among his constituents. Since then, much time and money had been spent, and odds defied, to make this ambitious aspiration a reality.

The potentially momentous economic developments TICAD invoked also provided the Africa Fair performance — and its participants — with a sharpened sense of occasion. Rapidly rising GDPs meant that many investors again regarded Africa as an emerging market. Breakneck Chinese investment had stirred Japanese insecurities. Yet Japan’s trade aspirations mingled with enduring uneasiness about a continent troubled by weak institutions, its culture and customs utterly remote to most Japanese.

 

Surely Japan’s African expatriates could play a role: They were the only Africans that Japanese citizens encountered on a daily basis, and — as one masquerade performer put it — “No one who knows Africans personally is afraid of Africans in general.” But Africans constitute a mere sliver of Japan’s comparatively small immigrant population, and their role in public discourse remains minimal. The scheduling of two masquerade performances at Africa Fair — by the Anambra State Union and its Imo State counterpart — offered members of the Igbo Nigerian immigrant community a rare opportunity to publicly present themselves in a manner that might surprise and impress a Japanese audience: as a highly organized, civically engaged diaspora whose culture shares common features with Japan’s. After all, what is masquerade if not matsuri’s African equivalent?

 

 

Continues: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/06/11/issues/japans-nigerians-see-symbol-of-change-in-masquerade/#.UbtGG-e-oms

 

Dreux Richard is an American writer, journalist and literary translator living in Tokyo. He writes about Japan’s African community for The Japan Times and serves as Kyoto Journal’s literary translation editor.

 

 

2 comments

  • Comment Link Guestevalf Friday, 03 March 2017 02:59 posted by Guestevalf

    guest test post
    bbcode
    html
    http://googlee.te/ simple

    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Comment Link Guestevalf Saturday, 28 January 2017 19:32 posted by Guestevalf

    guest test post
    bbcode
    html
    http://googlee.te/ simple

    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Add comment