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Nkrumah sure can dance

October 20, 2009

Thursday night turned out to be an ecstatic reverie of the Pan-African dream.  

The weekend began in a rented but sultry venue in the Swiss club that looked more like a frat house than a bastion of cultural diplomacy. Black bodies dominated the space like none other in Cairo, writhing, stamping and pulsing with the groove. From the music, a mix of Hip Hop, Reggea, Afrobeat, R and B, and Coupé Decalé, this could have have been anywhere from Abidjan to Atlanta, London to Lagos, Paris to Port-au-Prince. But it was in the deeply complex and layered Middle Eastern and African metropolis of Cairo.

After just minutes of pleasurably absorbing the scene, it dawned on me that the man who was sweating it out next to me in fervent stomps and swinging arms was none other than Gamal Nkrumah, son of the father of African Independence and the first Black African president Kwame Nkrumah. 

It’s funny because this guy is all about why I am here in Egypt. I even mention him in my proposal for this grant. The father of political Pan-Africanism marries an Egyptian woman and begets these Afrabians. Gamal, has spent much of his life in Egypt but got a Phd from School of Oriental and African Studies in London and writes on international politics for Al-Ahram Weekly. It’s appropriate that my introduction to the international black community of Cairo be shepherded in by him. 

The night’s mix was quite the patchwork. Students and diplomats from all over the Continent. Sudenese refugees and black brit rude boys. 

After my own sweaty get-down, I went to catch a breath of not-so-fresh-air on the patio. There, I met Malik, a Guinean student of economics. For him, Egypt represents embodies the jumping-off point for “not a bad amount of things.” And he felt blessed to be in the land of the Pharaohs and the land of many a great islamic scholar, even if an arab or two might express a racist sentiment. More than anything though, he was filled with a sense that he was making his way to the front lines in the charge of the Global South. His work in the Arab world would help him and his continent in the Rise of the Rest.

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