Tony’s popularity was in no doubt. Most of friends were native Norwegians; he preferred their company. He saw himself as different from other blacks in Norway.
He was British. He was not African.
He was not black. He was British.
That his skin was dark/black did not matter to his identity.
In all his years in Oslo, he probably have met two Africans, but did not know them. He took one look at Soulamani and quickly looked away. He looked for another empty seat.
“The guy does not look cool”, probably some African, he thought. If he sat next to this guy, they will think he is also African. He was not comfortable with this.
There was nothing racist about this; he just figured that they were very different; just because they were both black did not mean he has to seat next to him.
He could sit wherever he chose to. He was not into that solidarity shit.
However, Tony had sometimes found it convenient to play the black/Africa card for survival. When he had take part in an exhibition some years ago, it was convenient to say his African roots inspired him.
In a previous exhibition, almost all the visitors had first asked where in Africa he came from. When he replied that he was not, but from England, they did not seem so interested.
So now, it was African whenever it gave him an edge. Otherwise he was British.
Although he had only met two Africans, he had little impression of them. Once, when he saw an African refused entry, he simply saw it as the guy not been “cool enough”.
“Bullshit. I Tony can walk into any club”. Tony has never considered Norwegians racist.
“Stupid? Yes, plenty of stupid ones”.
“Ignorant? Plenty of ignorant ones”.
Besides, it is not your color. “It’s who you are man.
I am British and that’s what people see.” He, Tony Lynmann represented something new.
No one was going to class him as black, not least African.
At the same time, Tony was a contradiction. Although he defined his identity as British, he also saw himself as the new kind of black man in Norway; open-minded, want to integrate, educated and had a place in the society.
He was an up and coming painter.
Unlike Soulamani, he does not intend to stay on the fringes; he intends to become someone and be a recognizable personality in Norway.
His dream is to become the first black painter in Norway.
As his identity and life is a contradiction so is his work. Some of his paintings are oil on canvass, depicting the Norwegian countryside, the fjords and life in the hytta, while others depict Caribbean scenery.
“One day, one day, they will notice me in this country. I will become part of the Art history of Norway”, he tells himself.
He was a man full of confidence, sometimes too full of himself.
Tony though had problems; problems about which he would prefer not to talk about. These problems held him down. All artistic talents were suppressed because of issues that he cannot seem to resolve.
The man was simply lost. He felt trapped and cannot seem to find a way out. He still misses his ex- wife, especially the fact that he cannot be with her and their young daughter.
It has become such an obsession that whenever, he sees another black man with a family, he feels this huge hole; like a loser. This was part of his dream, to bring up a family with this beautiful woman
Five years have past and he was slowly realizing what as asset to his artistic life the marriage has been. Yes, he had hated some aspects; he hated going out to see his in-laws on Sundays when all he wanted to do was to sleep.