Connection. Community. Intergenerational Ties. This is what makes the diaspora a beautiful one. We have so many shared cultural similarities across the African diaspora, yet we can still embrace our individual differences. It’s a continuously growing one, and Bumpkin Files is dedicated to bringing light this.
We, Bumpkin Files, are a photo documentation, archive and community resource which explores Black life in Britain beyond London. We also aim to bring attention to unheard voices across the global diaspora, especially Europe. When we think about Black British culture and history, talking points tend to be London-centric and without nuances.
Being part of the ILẸ WA project and having the opportunity to contribute to the book has allowed us to add broader contexts to our rich Afro-Caribbean cultures. Bumpkin Files and ILẸ WA hold similar motifs when it comes to painting the bigger picture. Cultural creativity and understanding one another within the diaspora are some of the things that keep our connection strong. Being involved in ILẸ WA is important to us—Bumpkin Files brings light to the fact that parts of the diaspora, specifically British-Caribbean communities are ‘twice-removed people.’
What do we mean by this? Knowing the grueling historical links between the Caribbean and Britain, and how Africans were ripped from the continent, the descendants of the enslaved further migrated and were even invited to the UK for labor. As a British-Caribbean, there are at times, feelings of displacement. We tend to rightfully claim our Caribbean heritage, but we also recognise that we aren't entirely linked culturally, especially if we haven't spent time living back home. The further displacement is that yes, we embrace our culture that IS ours but there will always be a curiosity about where our African ancestors resided before imperial and colonial interference.
The photographs that we have featured in the upcoming ILẸ WA book are from British-Nigerian creative, Tobi Onabolu’s ‘Dear Black Child’ short film produced in 2021. This film focuses on a Black child on a quest for joy, encounters a mysterious spirit, and a High Priestess with her merrymakers, in an enchanted forest. Our founder, Karis Beaumont, was commissioned to document and create photographic art for the project. On her part, she wanted to participate to collaborate with Onabolu to add her photographic perspective to the project. Bumpkin Files always encourages collaboration and cross diasporic creativity, so further showcasing these pieces for the book was only right. Being British of Caribbean descent was a way to connect to the continent creatively, as well as learn about different belief systems from the continent.
Our involvement in the book has reminded us of the importance of actively photographing the diaspora in different situations. In the grand scheme of things, you never know how it can impact people in the future, and we are essentially recording histories. This statement rings even more true knowing that the purpose behind the ILẸ WA book is not only to uplift and connect the African and Caribbean diaspora but also to fund the education of young people in our roots.
The ILẸ WA short film will be screening on the 11th November at the National Gallery in partnership with Create IRL. Keep an eye out over the coming weeks for its release.
All photography and archival imagery has been provided by Bumpkin Files.