The African Summer (I don' wan' be too black)
As I rushed up the old painted steps of the café, I am greeted with the smells of fresh grilled onions and Bajan seasonings. My 3 o clock had not made it to the meeting point as yet, so I decided to sit in the lounge with its beautiful artistic ‘wallscapes’, natural wines on display and soft comfortable marshmallow like couches. After about twenty minutes my appointment arrived and we sat and got into a deep discussion about our project. Soon after we were given two glasses of water from the host and he asked if we were ordering soon and handed us each a menu. His customer service was fantastic as he explained what was on the menu, and could announce all the ingredients for each dish.
There were a couple of mature looking ladies sitting closer to the front of the deck as the next performer was welcomed up on to the stage and they signaled to him to get his attention. The space as mentioned before was quite cosy so it wasn’t difficult for me to
overhear some of the conversation. One of the ladies at the table asked about getting some tea and inquired about the types they had. My adorable host was more than willing to sound off the numerous herbal teas which they carried, Hibiscus, Lavender and Orange etc but then he explained that there was a house favorite, which the customers enjoyed called “African Summer’s Tea”.
Before the poor chap could finish, raised her hand to this face and dryly stated that she would not be having any due to the fact that she does not want to be “too African.” After what seemed to be like an eternity of silence from the rest of the café the black woman half chuckled at what she had said and tried to pass it off as a joke. Her friend opposite her looked extremely embarrassed, which was probably due to the fact that they were in an Afrocentric restaurant and almost all the patrons with the exclusion of a few white tourists (who also fashioned shocked expressions on their faces); were black just like her. It was only after she timidly asked about the specific ingredients within the tea that she said she would have a cup.
My host’s face changed to a more serious note after that and the air in the café was thick with ‘uncomfortability’. The open mic which had meekly started only moments before this social debacle – turned from jovial and light to more serious hard hitting issues about race, classism and cultural identity. Come to think of it, some pieces had in all of those themes at the same time.
Eventually the ladies left the café and the uncomfortable atmosphere was warm again. The show picked up pace and my associate and I cleared our tabs. This indeed was an eye opening experience.