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Africans in Norway. A scattered community. Looking at the lives of the small African community in Danmark-Norway

Yacoub Cisse





The main purpose of this paper is to highlight the presence of Africans in the Norwegian society dating back to the 1860s. It tries to understand the presence of Africans in Norway through different historical periods. When did they come to Norway, how and why? What do the records say about the life of these first Africans?

This paper is based on the project I have been working on since 1997. The aim of the project has been to document the presence of Africans in Norway from 1600 to the present. It seeks to create awareness and understanding of Africans in Norway in a historical and contemporary context. The aim is to challenge the dominant view that the first Africans came to Norway in the 1960s.

The project has so far collected more than 400 photographs, carried out interviews with 2nd World War survivors and their descendants. Through written materials, exhibitions, and internet has the project disseminated its findings. Research findings point to the fact that there were Africans who made Norway their home between 1600 and 1900. They came to Norway as housewives, jazz musicians, artists, seamen. One of these Africans was Norway first black postmaster, others were domestic servants. The project documents the biographies of these first Africans. What were these first Africans called? The project has also looked at the name “neger” [Negro in English] and how it entered the Norwegian vocabulary. This paper will therefore present some of my research findings and the challenges faced in the research process, such as tracing the descendants and interviewing them.

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