This post was originally written in September 2016.
With every city I find myself in, I make effort to explore every nook and cranny, from the safe cliche tourist attractions to the weird hidden gems. The Heidelberg Project is definitely one of the weirdest things I’ve seen in any city. Weird as in it involves a burned down house with a basement filled with nappy haired doll heads and random shoes. It’s “art”.
“The Heidelberg Project is an outdoor art project in Detroit, Michigan. It was created in 1986 by artist Tyree Guyton and his grandfather Sam Mackey (“Grandpa Sam”) as an outdoor art environment…The Heidelberg Project is in part a political protest, as Tyree Guyton’s childhood neighborhood began to deteriorate after the 1967 riots. Guyton described coming back to Heidelberg Street after serving in the Army; he was astonished to see that the surrounding neighborhood looked as if “a bomb went off”.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidelberg_Project
This post was originally written in September 2016.
I don’t even know where or how to start when it comes to describing this city. I just moved here about a couple months ago and I’m really trying to familiarize myself with the area. It’s definitely been through a lot. There’s so much history. There’s the great migration (the migration of black Americans from the south to the north for more racial freedom and opportunity). She gave us Motown, and the music industry was forever changed (and Eminem!!!). And of course, Motor City. Detroit is home to global car makers including the BIG THREE (GM, Ford and Chrysler). There was a time in history when Detroit flourished.
Unfortunately, Detroit has basically been knocked out and stripped naked. I say this because nearly a decade after the recession, the city still looks down and worn out. Abandoned houses and buildings, boarded up windows and doors, weeds climbing up the walls, homeless people hanging out on the streets, old graffiti everywhere. It all just looks grimy and gritty. My dad says it’s like being a war stricken area.
But there’s something in the air. It smells like hope. You can feel it through the spirits of the people. There’s a new energy and rejuvenation. Jobs are coming back into the city. People are investing in the housing market. There’s an influx of the young gen Xers and older millennials moving in due to the opportunities. The city is scarred and bruised, but you can feel the new breath and vibrations. And the graffiti that I mentioned, adds to the energy, bursting colors on what used to be grey, moldy, and worn out. It says, I’m gritty and hardcore, but I’m young, urban and strong. Detroit is on the rise and I’m glad I get to be a part of it. And for the moment, I am going to concentrate on the beauty of this city. God knows there are big issues, both apparent and subtle, but I’ll leave that for another post.
Took a trip to this old Bavarian town in the mountains of Georgia. Helen is one of Georgia’s secrets. It’s a cute small town with so many outdoor activities. I went specifically to go tubing down cool river and to visit one of the many waterfalls in North Georgia, Anna Ruby Falls. I definitely want to return during Christmas time. There’s something about an old German town and Christmas that go so well together.
My family and I just got back from our trip to the UK. It’s been about a decade since my brother and I last visited. He and I were actually born in Sidcup; that’s in London. We got to revisit the some of the usual tourist attractions and also reunite with old friends. This was my first time in London as an adult so the experiences were just a little different… I could drink. And that allowed me to spend a lot of night time in Soho.
We also visited Scotland. Edinburgh to be exact. I absolutely love that city and can’t wait to go back. I didn’t take as many pictures as I should’ve because I was just in the moment. Plus I was relying on my siblings with the professional cameras to handle it. I am patiently waiting for the release of those pictures so that I can brag on Instagram and Facebook. These will have to do for now.
I’ll be leaving Mobile, AL in a few months. So during these months, I am going to try my best to capture every part of the area, including Prichard. When I first moved here, the sheltered people of Mobile warned me about the city of Prichard. They swore it was one of the most dangerous cities ever. These people are legitimately afraid of this place. I personally don’t really fear American ghettos like that, let alone one near Mobtown. I’ve been to some of the infamous danger zones of America; East Point, College Park, Harlem, Detroit, and Chicago. Let me be clear, you won’t catch me just randomly taking a stroll in such areas. I’m not that naive. But having lived in Lagos and Port-Harcourt; having visited the slums of Nigeria multiple times, an afternoon walk in Prichard does not phase me. During MLK day, I got the opportunity to do some clean up work in the Prichard district, Africatown.
“Africatown had its beginnings in an 1860 plan by some wealthy landowners and their friends to see if they could evade the law and import slaves from Africa. They bet each other they could elude federal authorities. Timothy Meaher, a shipbuilder and landowner; his brother Byrnes Meaher, John Dabey and others invested money to hire a crew and captain for one of Meaher’s ships to go to Africa and bring back laborers for slaves.
They used Timothy Meaher’s ship Clotilde under Captain William Foster. It sailed in 1860 from Ghana, West Africa for its final destination of Mobile, more than half a century after the slave trade had been outlawed by the United States in 1808…
…As the government was investigating the illegal importation, the Africans were left on their own to survive. This was the site that was developed by them as what became known as Africatown. Among the Africans was a man named Cudjoe Kazoola Lewis, who was the last survivor of the original group, living until 1935.” – Wikipedia
There weren’t that many people outside. Every now and then, my group and I came across some sketchy old black men. I don’t know if they were sketchy because we were in the ghetto or because they were old black men in dark clothes. There were a few stray cats, and a lot of chained dogs barking at us.
To my memory, at least a third of the houses were abandoned. Most looked run down. A lot of the cars blasting hip hop would drive by leaving a lingering scent of marijuana. But the air was cool, the sun was bright and the sky was blue.
I have been living in America for about eight years now. For the majority of that, I have been disconnected to black American culture. Why? Because I’m not a black American neither am I an African American. I am just an African that happens to live in America. However, when I moved to Mobile, AL, the deep south of this country, was the first time I was thrust into the lives of African/Black Americans. I made friends with a group of culturally responsible blacks, and through this friendship, I became curious about their culture. As an African, sometimes we tend to snob black Americans because, to be honest, they don’t really have the best image portrayed in media. And thus a lot of Africans tend to be quite ignorant about blacks in America. But that is essentially what we Africans in America are…blacks in America. Purely based on our skin color, we are therefore, even though we’d rather not be, associated with African American culture and consequently, their stereotypes. So in an effort to rid myself of my African ignorance, I try to involve myself in activities that are of importance to black Americans. This year was the first time I ever celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Let’s just say if it weren’t for him, I may not even have this privilege. These pictures I took are from the time I walked in the MLK Day Parade in Mobile, Alabama.