CONVERSATION

Charity Dago

The Diary of Charity Dago, talent manager, image consultant and Italian entrepreneur of Nigerian origin. Welcome to Caleido, an inspirational diary, that narrates many stories: about creative people, trends, travels, objects. / Read the Editor’s letter here

 

Diary of: @charity.dago

Charity Dago
@charity.dago
1. She founded Wariboko, which describes itself as ‘a management agency for Afro-descendant artists’. I must confess that, on first read, I was convinced without hesitation. But then I promised myself to ask you: why did you feel the need to define a criterion of origin on an ethnic basis? The word ‘ethnic’ is politically correct (my legacy of diplomatic studies oblige me to use a certain lexical caution)?

I felt the need to define a criterion of origin on an ethnic basis, because in Italy black people are not represented enough. 2020 proved to be a revolutionary year for everyone: we questioned our way of life and our emotions. To represent cultural and ethnic diversity is a big challenge. The role of diversity education is intrinsic.

2. Beyond the mere geographical origin, what does being Afro-descendant mean? What are the traits that identify you or that you share?

The geographical aspect is important. We identify as Afro-descendant because there is a visceral relationship with the continent. This relationship is visible through one’s skin colour and experience. This means that we all share the fact that we experience social disadvantage on a daily basis.

Charity Dago
@charity.dago
Charity Dago
@charity.dago
3. Musical talents such as Ghali and Mahmood introduced references to the cultural identity of their (North African) family roots to the Italian rhythm. By doing so, they have shown us how, through music, how cultural integration can be a pleasant enrichment. In other countries such as France or Great Britain, this process is already more widely. What are the other cultural areas in which integration is lagging behind in Italy? In what terms? Why?

The word integration is the supreme example of non-development and therefore of non-evolution. We could have tolerated the term integration in the 1990s, but today there are many black children born on Italian territory. I personally was born in Italy and embody the Italian culture 100%. I don’t have to be integrated. It is more correct to talk about inclusion. Integration means inserting something external and unknown into an already established process. A sentence by Verna Myers is very explanatory: ‘Diversity is when you are invited to a party; inclusion is when you are invited to dance’. In Italy we are still in an early stage of diversity, inclusion seems to be a mirage, but I am confident things will change soon.

Charity Dago
@charity.dago
4. In kindergarten, after my sepaation from Emeka, my Afro-descendant best friend, I had retrieved (with great difficulty) a black doll (the only one available within miles) to fill the gap. This is to say that ethnicity was never ‘an issue’: to me, he was simply Emeka. The recent demonstrations of the #BlackLivesMatter activist movements, on the other hand, have awakened me to the fact that discriminatory phenomena are still dramatically current, and perhaps closer than I thought. So I ask you: what 3 concrete actions do you think each of us could do, in our daily lives and communities, to accelerate the process of integration?

Children are pure and are exclusively guided by their feelings, the worst comes later on. Based on our experiences, as adults, we categorise things and people as good or bad. Sometimes the reaction is involuntary, and we do not realise that we have racist behaviour. We are not used to diversity: sexual, cultural, ethnic, religious, physical, etc. I never had a doll to represent me until I was an adult. This is a trauma! We use inappropriate terms without being aware of it: the term ‘coloured’ is not correct. It implies a position of superiority on the part of the Caucasian who calls himself colourless; we all have a colour, not just Afro-descendants. “Coloured” may have been tolerated in the 1990s, but not anymore.

Charity Dago
@charity.dago
Charity Dago
@charity.dago
5. What is one person who, during your lifetime, has marked a trait in your personality that you feel distinguishes you today? How did they do it??

A lot of people, even in real life, but Oprah Winfrey is the one who inspired me to create this agency. She is a very charismatic woman. With her show, she has managed to bring important social issues to the public’s attention and to influence people in a positive way. She is an institution and is very respected.

Charity Dago

@charity.dago

6. When we Europeans think of Africa, we think of it as more homogeneous and uniform than it really is (Africa is Morocco, South Africa is Burkina Faso, but there are ‘worlds’ in between). And although I consider myself an informed and cosmopolitan individual, I always have the impression that of knowing too little. What readings, movies, podcasts or other readily available resources can help us better define the complex variety of the African continent?

The African continent is immense, and so are its peoples. The key point is the decolonization of one’s mind. The Caucasian person has Eurocentric way of thinking, and it is difficult to dismantle. I highly recommend watching Raoul Peck’s ‘I am not your negro’, everything about the African-American writer James Baldwin, and the novels of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian-born writer who has the power to tell Africa in an extraordinary way ‘We should all be feminists’.

Charity Dago
@charity.dago
Charity Dago
@charity.dago
7. You are a representative of emerging talent. Can you suggest some we should start following on Instagram? How would you briefly describe them?

I will recommend a young woman and a young man I know personally, and I follow in some artistic projects: @iambintadiaw , she is an Italo-Senegalese visual artist. Her research is aimed at creating installations and works that reference social phenomena such as migration, immigration, notions of identity and the black female body in a Western context. @theoimani is a contemporary African art ethusiast. He is studying medicine at the University of Pavia, he is Italian-Hungarian, and lives in Verona. He is an intelligent and sensitive guy. I also personally respect him a lot. On his Instagram profile, he tells us about his diptychs and the parallelism between African and Western art.

8. Which Afro-descendant musicians should we should definitely have a record of? Which tracks make you feel most rooted in your origins?

Once again, I will nominate a young woman and a young man who make my heart vibrate: @loretta_grace is a multifaceted artist and actress. She is magnetic. She’s an artist whose live performances cannot be missed, I don’t understand why she’s not on TV doing what she does best: entertaining everyone in an ironic and intelligent way. Her cover of ‘Halo’ on YouTube is mind-blowing. @davidblankofficial and his ‘Standing in line’ every time makes me dive into my past every time, memories of my adolescence come back, when I was daydreaming about changing my life. David is on a beautiful path, he deserves it all.

Charity Dago
@charity.dago
9. In addition to ethnic issues, gender issues are unfortunately still ‘hot topics’ in our country. How are you, as a ‘warrior’, facing the challenges of our times in your daily life?

The exercise I am putting into practice on a daily basis is to observe diversity and not to make the mistakes myself. I have learned in this 2020 to recognise my privileges. Compared to a white, straight man, I am in disadvantage, but compared to a black, homosexual, disabled woman, I am in a position of advantage in the eyes of society. This is an aspect that should not be underestimated. Being aware of this sometimes makes all the difference in terms of sensitivity. I, inevitably, look at the world with different eyes.

Charity Dago
@charity.dago
Charity Dago
@charity.dago
10. What is an object in your home that you would never give up? What is the memory associated with it? Can you send us a photo taken by you?

Throughout this 2020 I made radical changes and got rid of many objects. I have lightened myself a lot. When I moved, I took a few things with me and became fond of a light-decoration: the commercial E. It was invented as an abbreviation. Invented as an abbreviation, yet, to me, it has always represented the idea of an association with someone or something in a positive sense. Charity & …

Charity Dago
@charity.dago

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