With French and Beninese (West African) heritage, Gracieuse Amah is an Event Manager, Curator, French Intellectual Property Lawyer, Community Leader Activist and Founder of “U & Grace”. Specialising in performance, live and visual arts forms, Grace is a passionate dancer of African dances since the early age of 8. She has performed internationally in Australia and France and started to deliver weekly African dance workshops since 2002. Grace is graduating from Melbourne Polytechnic with a Master of Creative Industries in September 2018.
Using the arts as a medium, Grace is dedicated to advocating for social inclusion, interculturalism, youth empowerment, intellectual property protection and awareness, and migrant settlement. Wherever she goes, her drive for community engagement and making a positive impact on people’s lives through arts and collaboration are a significant part of her DNA. Her projects range from national music festivals, international youth empowerment congress, and community dance workshops right to African dance festivals. Her last project “Kwabo from Benin” is scheduled from the 18th to 22nd of September during Melbourne Fringe Festival 2018.
2nd generation African migrants in France
Born African in France, the best of both worlds!
Regardless of the country I live in, the question “Where do you come from?” is usually one of, if not the first, question people ask me. By me I mean a 30-year-old French woman with Beninese (West Africa) heritage, who was born and raised in France and moved to Australia three years ago. Whilst I was living in France and speaking French, I understood that what people were eager to understand was the story behind my skin colour. In Australia, being a dark-skinned woman and speaking English with a strong French accent, I need more information before I can answer their question. So I ask: Do you refer to my accent or my heritage? Sometimes the interest is my accent, sometimes my heritage, and sometimes both. Regardless of the circumstances, my questioner's curiosity appears to lie in gaining an understanding of my identity.
What does it mean to have been born African in France? For me, it means to live and breathe two cultures.
Born African in France meant working twice or three times harder to climb up the hierarchy scale. It meant to pass beyond racial prejudices and push my assets to the forefront to create opportunities. Being Afro-French meant to be resilient, positive and proactive. Born African in France inspires me to this day to investigate how other second-generation African migrants navigate through questions of identity, interculturalism or multiculturalism.
Born second-generation African migrants in France, Australia or overseas what are your challenges?