54

Ernestine Comvalius, Black Magic Woman

Ernestine Comvalius, the woman behind the Black Magic Women Festival that starts on November 11 in Amsterdam South East.

Who is Mrs. Ernestine Comvalius, what does she do and what motivates her?
I am a mother of two daughters and have lived in the Netherlands since I was 9 years old. I spent my adolescence in America in the 70s, the period when the slogan 'I am black and I am beautiful' was common. Also the time when Angela Davis was arrested and anyone walking around with big Afros. That period shaped me, because although I lived a very good life in a New York suburb with my aunt who worked there as a gynaecologist, I was deeply concerned with the plight of black Americans, the Latinos and others who were in a subordinate position. took.

In 1972 I returned and went to study at the university in Utrecht, where I became very active in the Surinamese student movement.

How did you come to organize a festival for black women? Whence the name?
Since 1998 I have been working as a director at Krater Theater in Amsterdam Southeast. A few years before that, one of the employees was already inspired by the song of Santana: Like a black magic woman..... At that time, Krater tried to connect more with what lived among the residents in Zuidoost to attract more visitors. tempted to come to the theater.

What is the goal of the Black Magic Woman festival, what have you learned in the past nine years and do you think the organization is closer to the goal or has already reached its goal?
The BMW festival originated in a period in which we hardly saw black female actresses, singers, and artists on the Dutch stages. Times have changed and we have contributed to that. The BMW festival programs professional arrivals alongside talented newcomers. We show how new groups influence and enrich cultural life in the Netherlands. In addition, the festival appears to have such a great aura because it is a manifestation of quality, feminine strength and optimism. The magic is in the inspiring effect it has on visitors and on us.

Yes, I think we are increasingly achieving the desired goal. Nobody can pass the festival off as a small gathering in the Bijlmer that rebels against Dutch society and so on. We have heard these kinds of comments. On the contrary, there is a lot of national attention in the media, we are approached by renowned groups, actresses, singers who want to perform. In addition, the themes and debates also contribute to breaking through the negative image of us. In addition to music, theatre, dance, film, multimedia, visual arts, literature and other disciplines, the festival also organizes poetry workshops and visual arts. An artist has made the decor with residents of Zuidoost every year. Visual traditions from Africa, the interior of Suriname and elsewhere were always the source of inspiration. In this way we involve the environment in the festival. Although we are expanding this year to the Stadsschouwburg in Utrecht and to various districts in Amsterdam, we want the festival never to lose its Southeast character.

Can you elaborate on this year's theme? Why was "Revelations" chosen?
For the past three years we have been working with themes that connect all program components. Love and Eroticism, Heroines and now Revelations. We choose such a theme in consultation with all partners, which is preceded by delightful discussions and creative thinking processes. We organize this festival with a lot of love. You can associate all kinds of things with revelations: revelations, revelations, discoveries, unveilings, making visible, highlighting the underexposed, looking for the unknown. It gives us enough freedom in programming and also has something exciting in it. We then look for underexposed women from history, pioneers in a certain field or women who are revealing a special talent for the first time. All 8 festival locations will give visitors the chance to reveal something in a playful way. We will have mystery guests revealed on the spot. Hopefully your curiosity is now piqued.

Do you think frizzy hair fits into this theme? If not, why not? If so, why?
I think that frizzy hair fits into this theme. Haven't we been struggling with our hair for years? Aren't ways and remedies constantly being discovered with which you can make your hair manageable, beautiful and modern? How many examples do we see? How many magazines are there that give us ideas? I think dealing with frizzy hair is almost an art form. When creating the decor for the BMW festival, we once took inspiration from the patterns of braided frizzy hair.

Lately I realize more and more that slavery is not that far behind us. My grandfather's mother was still born in slavery, he belongs to the first generation born in freedom; relative freedom as it was colonial times. The negative ideas about black people and therefore also about frizzy hair have been spoon-fed. I got those ideas in my environment as a child, so that means that the appreciation for frizzy hair has an even greater importance than just introducing a new fashion. It indirectly contributes to increasing self-esteem.

Have you ever relaxed her yourself? If not, why not? If so, when and why did you stop?
Yes, I've relaxed sometimes, but never for long. I did it for variety, but all that curler stuff is really not for me and my head has suffered from the chemicals. I had Curly for quite a few years, because I actually wanted to be as natural as possible, but also modern. Afro was out and having it braided took me so much time, I had no patience for that.

How do you like the kinky twists and why did you choose this hairstyle?
After a period in which I wet my own hair and let it dry, leaving a spiral shape that I smashed into a certain shape, I switched to kinky twists. My hair became dry from daily wetting. I have a lot of thick hair and I am not the most handy, I must confess.

The twists are done within 3 hours, which I think is reasonable. I have a mousse that I use on a daily basis and I put oil on the scalp once a week. I like the twists, because I don't have to do anything and my hair always looks well-groomed. Still, I would prefer to have an easy haircut with my own hair, without false extensions.

What do you think of frizzy hair?
I find frizzy hair laborious and would like, like in Suriname, to have handy relatives nearby who take care of my hair for me. I find it difficult to find good hairdressers. I don't have enough knowledge of the right products and the best way to handle my own hair. I would love to see magazines around me that are informative and give people ideas. In short, I still have a lot to learn about my own hair.

What do you expect from the Black Magic Woman festival this year?
I expect that the loyal visitors will be there again to refuel and I hope that many people from other cities will come to the festival.
I know the program will be attractive with a lot of focus on content. On the website we will reveal more about the program step by step. www.blackmagicwomanfestival.nl.

Finally, do you have a message for the visitors of kroeshaar.com or black women in general?
I have a very positive view of black women. In my work I see the top talents, the ambitious young women, who are at the same time socially involved and ready to help other women a step further. I love that there is a kroeshaar.com and will visit it regularly now.