Op-Ed

I’m From 'The Land of Genocides' and This Election Makes Me Nervous

Karl Chris Nsabiyumva, known on Twitter as Mr Burundi, on his post-Election Day thoughts and how Donald Trump's victory troubles him.

Voting is irrational.


People vote with their emotions, their fears and their frustrations.

I used to think this was only true for Burundi—or rather, for third world countries where the masses are “uneducated,” “too conservative” and “superstitious.”

On Nov. 9, my adopted country proved me wrong by electing Donald Trump president of the United States of America.

As he gave his surprisingly sober victory speech, I refused to believe that Trump had actually won. I kept hoping that the yet-to-be counted votes would turn out to be in favor of Hillary. I was hoping for a miracle.

While I’m not a Clinton fan, I did believe in “the lesser of two evils” and I expected America to think the same way. But when I saw Trump’s numbers rising as they did, I started to question the little hope I had left in America and its people.

I’m actually something of a right wing centrist as far as my political inclinations go. Hence, Trump’s victory wouldn’t have meant anything to me if his only fault was lack of experience. Inexperienced and not-so-smart people get elected to run countries all the time. What I didn’t expect was that the American people would let a divisive bigot anywhere close to the White House, for the sake of safeguarding American values, you know, like tolerance. It’s supposed to be “One nation under God" after all. I was obviously very wrong, and this scares me.

It’s now obvious that a good chunk of Americans actually identify with or supports the things Trump says. As an African asylum seeker in the United States, this is rather frightening. On one hand, it’s scary because I’ve tasted the fruits of intolerance fueled with divisive and hateful political propaganda. I’m from “the land of genocides,” the African great lakes region, home to Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I’ve lost family members and friends to genocide and war. I’m in the United States now because some people couldn’t tolerate my opinions and threatened my life. I know what hate can do; and if my own people can go as far as killing their own, how safe can I feel in this land where I’m surrounded by folks who look nothing like me?

It’s sad how in 2016, with all the knowledge and resources available in the country, there are still this many people who believe that exclusion is the road to prosperity. In a country that was built by immigrants and slaves brought from another land it’s hard to understand the depth of this xenophobia.

There is relief in one thing though. I’m consoled by the fact that Americans are not so different from many of my fellow Africans. It is obvious that many Americans are just as frustrated, angry, scared, desperate and uncertain about their futures as many of my brothers and sisters in Africa. This is why sensible decision-making seems to be a luxury in this part of the world too.

People don’t care if the president can do the job, or if he represents good values. Nobody has time for image, appearances, political correctness and other superficialities. Desperate times call for desperate measures! “Me first!” is the new motto.

The 2016 US Presidential elections reminded me of one of favorite Bible verses: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV).

The 2016 US Presidential elections have made America feel, yet again, like home.

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Artwork: Barthélémy Toguo Lockdown Selfportrait 10, 2020. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Goes to Paris in 2021

The longstanding celebration of African art will be hosted by Parisian hot spot Christie's for the first time ever.

In admittedly unideal circumstances, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair will be touching French soil in 2021. The internationally celebrated art fair devoted to contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora will be hosted in Paris, France from January 20 - 23. With COVID-19 still having its way around the globe, finding new ways to connect is what it's all about and 1-54 is certainly taking the innovative steps to keep African art alive and well.
In partnership with Christie's, the in-person exhibits will take place at the auction house's city HQ at Avenue Matignon, while 20 international exhibitors will be featured online at Christies.com. And the fun doesn't stop there as the collaboration has brought in new ways to admire the talent from participating galleries from across Africa and Europe. The fair's multi-disciplinary program of talks, screenings, performances, workshops, and readings are set to excite and entice revelers.

Artwork: Delphine Desane Deep Sorrow, 2020. Courtesy Luce Gallery


The tech dependant program, curated by Le 18, a multi-disciplinary art space in Marrakech medina, will see events take place during the Parisian run fair, followed by more throughout February.
This year's 1-54 online will be accessible to global visitors virtually, following the success of the 2019's fair in New York City and London in 2020. In the wake of COVID-19 related regulations and public guidelines, 1-54 in collaboration with Christie's Paris is in compliance with all national regulations, strict sanitary measures, and security.

Artwork: Cristiano Mongovo Murmurantes Acrilico Sobre Tela 190x200cm 2019


1-54 founding director Touria El Glaoui commented, "Whilst we're sad not to be able to go ahead with the fourth edition of 1-54 Marrakech in February as hoped, we are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to be in Paris this January with our first-ever fair on French soil thanks to our dedicated partners Christie's. 1-54's vision has always been to promote vibrant and dynamic contemporary art from a diverse set of African perspectives and bring it to new audiences, and what better way of doing so than to launch an edition somewhere completely new. Thanks to the special Season of African Culture in France, 2021 is already set to be a great year for African art in the country so we are excited to be playing our part and look forward, all being well, to welcoming our French friends to Christie's and many more from around the world to our online fair in January."

Julien Pradels, General Director of Christie's France, said, "Christie's is delighted to announce our second collaboration with 1-54, the Contemporary African Art Fair, following a successful edition in London this October. Paris, with its strong links to the continent, is a perfect place for such a project and the additional context of the delayed Saison Africa 2020 makes this partnership all the more special. We hope this collaboration will prove a meaningful platform for the vibrant African art scene and we are confident that collectors will be as enthusiastic to see the works presented, as we are."


Artwork: Kwesi Botchway Metamorphose in July, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957


Here's a list of participating galleries to be on the lookout for:

Galleries

31 PROJECT (Paris, France)
50 Golborne (London, United Kingdom)
Dominique Fiat (Paris, France)
Galerie 127 (Marrakech, Morocco)
Galerie Anne de Villepoix (Paris, France)
Galerie Cécile Fakhoury (Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire/ Dakar, Senegal)
Galerie Eric Dupont (Paris, France)
Galerie Lelong & Co. (Paris, France / New York, USA)
Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris, France / Brussels, Belgium)
Galleria Continua (Beijing, China / Havana, Cuba / Les Moulins, France / San Gimignano, Italy / Rome, Italy)
Gallery 1957 (Accra, Ghana / London, United Kingdom)
Loft Art Gallery (Casablanca, Morocco)

Luce Gallery (Turin, Italy)
MAGNIN-A (Paris, France)
Nil Gallery (Paris, France)
POLARTICS (Lagos, Nigeria)
SEPTIEME Gallery (Paris, France)
This is Not a White Cube (Luanda, Angola) THK Gallery (Cape Town, South Africa) Wilde (Geneva, Switzerland)

For more info visit 1-54

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