Afro Arab: My Ode to O-Man, Oh-Man- Oman
Oman was beautiful. Its an Arab country that I had no problem fitting into. You see, Oman is super Black and has a sizable Afro-Arab population. A little background, Oman used to own Zanzibar, which is in East Africa. When you walk around Oman, you will see dark skinned brothas and sistas, who wear the dishdasha, eat with their hands as traditionally done on the continent of Africa, and hear most of the music that is currently flooding the African continent and seeping out into the rest of the world. Also, they have preserved their African culture that also includes drumming. Overall, I walked around and didn’t feel out of place.
As I would look at these Afro-Arab Omani's and desired to spark up a conversation, we couldn't get past hello. My Arabic was non existent and their English was limited. I always knew people in the US were learning Arabic, but never did it connect that I could talk to individuals from the diaspora across the globe. For most people, the only people I knew that studied Arabic were those who wanted to work for the FBI or CIA. When you think of a person from the Middle East, you most likely have an image which most likely doesn't include Blacks. I didn't know all of the specific histories between Oman and East Africa. Honestly, I have been flooded with my perception of the Middle East by what's portrayed on the media. I’m here to say that it is incomplete. It reminded me of how certain groups of Americans in the media are portrayed in a negative light, and I realize many times other places in the world get the same treatment.
I had an excellent conversation with an Omani who was empathic about the situation with Blacks in the United States and was well aware of the Black Lives Movement. He felt connected to the issues despite never having stepped foot in the US. The one difference, however, was the Black Omanis had traced back to Zanzibar, Tanzania. About ⅓ of the population was born in East Africa, and many still speak Swahili in addition to Arabic. They have their roots, even if it appears that they are uprooted. The food, spices and flavor, swag and the melanin that I saw daily...made me feel right at home!