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10 years of Trouble. Respect, Resilience and Representation – Young Afrikans In Norway reclaiming their identity. Experiences from the resource centre Afrikan Youth In Norway (AYIN)

Amani Buntu





I will document research around Afrikan identity and experiences of young Afrikans organizing themselves in Norway 1995-2005. This research paper will form part of a wider project looking at issues of Afrikan youth and identity in an international (Diaspora-Continent) perspective. My interest in being part of the Conference is mainly to meet other researchers within same or related fields, share information and form partnerships for progressive work that can benefit Afrikan communities.

Background


I am of Afrikan-Anguillan origin, born in Norway and now residing in South Afrika. Having grown up, worked and studied in Norway, I have had a great interest in studies around youth, racism, culture and identity. As a Social Worker, Therapist and Entrepreneur, through job assignments and project work, I have founded organizations, conducted interviews, counselled families and become a ‘father figure’ for many Black youth. In 1995 I founded Afrikan Youth In Norway, a youth resource centre, assisting Afrikan children and youth and their parents. Through extensive international travels and work assignments, I have also been able to compare notes with people involved in similar work around the world. I repatriated to South Afrika in 2000 where I have continued to work with young people. I am invited to Norway twice a year to do consultations with Afrikan organizations there and I am frequently invited to address (or work with) Afrikan communities both in the Diaspora and on the Continent. I want to merge my experiences with youth, racism, culture and identity and look at methodology that can be useful in work with young Afrikan people in both Europe and in Afrika. I believe one of the crucial challenges in the 21st Century is to draw on the diversity of Afrikan experience throughout history and look at how they can inform approaches and methodology that are adequate for Afrikan communities both on the continent and in the Diaspora. The ultimate goal of the project is to publish a book and/or a series of manuals for community workers and teachers.

Brief outline; Presentation of research paper



My research focuses on approaches, theory and methodology in working with young Afrikan people and identity. My research paper will summarize experiences with organizing young Afrikans in Norway 1995-2005 through the organization Afrikan Youth In Norway (which I currently serve as Supervisor/Advisor). Young Black people in Norway meet many challenges, such as stereotyping, marginalization, discrimination, exclusion and have very few sources of unbiased information about their heritage and also few visible, positive role models. How do the youth cope with these challenges? Has AYIN been effective in providing solutions to any of these problems? What kind of activities/approaches have proven useful in working with issues of youth, racism, culture and identity? The position paper will draw from AYIN’s annual reports, project and evaluation reports, interviews (qualitative method), counselling sessions, staff/membership review meetings, media profiles and responses from the Afrikan and Norwegian communities. Throughout the project there will also be a focus on challenges that particularly seem to face young Afrikan men.

Wider research


This position paper will form part of a wider project looking at young Afrikans and identity in the Diaspora and on the Continent. Many of the challenges faced by young Afrikans growing up in Norway are similar (stemming from same problem source, yet manifesting differently), not only to other Diasporan Afrikan communities, but also to young people growing up on the Afrikan continent. The goal will be to identify successful tools for work in schools, institutions and in community organizations. Issues such as self awareness, spiritual healing, cultural grounding/centredness and liberation processes will form the main focus. Norway and South Afrika will be the major “case countries”, and will also involve experiences from UK, Netherlands, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

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