SINCE BIRTH, I SAIL ON A STREAM THAT SEEMS SOMETIMES CALM AND PEACEFUL, SOMETIMES FAST AND FIERY. I AM THE WITNESS OF THIS JOURNEY. THE JOURNEY IS WORTH IT.
1) Give us a brief introduction to who you are. I go by the name of Regis, 32 cycles of age. I was born near the great lakes region in Africa. As a child, I found great happiness living in a temperate tropical environment, surrounded by green mountains and blessed with two rainy seasons a year. By the age of 6, an ethnic conflict forced my family to flee the country and embark on a voyage that led me to where I sit now.
2) When were you first drawn to exploring African History and its relationship to the diaspora in Europe? As a child, I would hear the word ‘Umuzungu’, which means ‘white person’ in my mother tongue, used to describe a specific person. “Umuzungu had done this”, “Umuzungu was up to this”. “Abazungu (plural of Umuzungu) were always up to no good.” Another word would also follow the latest time to time, ‘Uburayi’. It is a term that, if I am not mistaken, refers to Europe, up North, which is above the African continent on a map. It is a word that I heard a lot when I was living in Africa among people who spoke my mother tongue. The picture painted of this ‘Europe’ in the conversations was very bright. In contrast to Africa, it was the height of civilization. Unknown to many, as only a few had the chance to travel there, we had a self-painted image of what people were wearing, what they were eating, the size of the cities, the kind of cars. It was a place where we aspired to be.
Around the age of 9 years old, living in South Africa, I found out that there was something that I can refer to as native South African, coloured South African, white South African and foreigners. One day to another my whole scope of the world changed. Before this event, color isn’t what I saw when I looked at the world. After entering the world of color, it was the only thing that mattered. The social structure of this country and many others seemed also to reflect somehow this coloring.
We then moved to Europe where I have lived since the age of 10. In school I soon learned about history, geography, science… It was around the age of 23 that I realized that my perspective of the world was centred on a western perspective. From where I was standing, I would call myself African, but I knew more things about Europe than any other place in the world. That is when I became curious about Africa.
3) Many millennials were born in Africa but raised in Europe. You came here as a child to escape the war. How have you stayed connected to your roots and would you consider moving back? I have considered moving back to Africa. I am in search of a place, location, land where I can spend the future to come. My choice will probably be according to my affinities with this place. I haven’t traveled yet to all the places I wish to see, so I think I haven’t made the choice yet. There are places that I wish to discover and rediscover in Africa and many more around the globe. I think I know much about my roots but I don’t really know anything. Like any other community, Africa has always sought to flourish and rise for the good of all. The riches captured during this process and which form the basis of its culture are immeasurable, Africa is a chest filled to the brim. I feel that I am connected to my roots through my mother tongue because it allows me to communicate with my parents and at the same time communicate with the community from which they are born. That is how I stay connected. Yet my knowledge of this tongue is very limited. I can have a basic conversation with a tongue brother/sister but my understanding comes short when of deeper meaning, poetry, wider concepts, and many other things that only a seasoned linguist would understand. I am happy to feel that my curiosity about my roots is constantly growing. All the more recently because I filmed a show by a troupe from my community. The show is in poetry sung in my mother tongue, accompanied by dance and some instruments. I can tell you that I understand the summary of the story but not its depth.
4) You’re a director, producer, writer, photography amongst other stuff. Where did your passion for these activities begin? My passion is somehow a way to express what I want and have to say. I am searching for something. I don’t what it is but through my passion I get closer to it every day. It might have began the day I was born.
5) What is your secret to peace of mind in a busy world? My secret to peace of mind is to seek for peace of mind, to be careful, to be aware.
Check below to view Regis’ incredible photography. Follow his work via the links below.
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