The African Generational Trauma

7 min readJul 3, 2023


written by art historian & curator Mihaela Manolache

The African people have endured centuries of colonization and racial discrimination. The enslavement treatment of local communities by the Western world and the displacement from their homeland resulted in profound intergenerational trauma. The cultural wounds passed down from one generation to another due to historical oppression. Trauma transference across generations can manifest in psychological distress, cultural disconnection, and socio-economic disparities. One must recognize that generational trauma is not an inherent flaw but a consequence of systemic structures perpetuating inequality and discrimination.

Generational trauma has profoundly impacted African communities, influencing their collective memory, cultural practices, and individual well-being. The trauma experienced by ancestors reverberates through subsequent generations, shaping their identity, perception of self, and relationship with the world. The legacy of colonialism and ongoing racial oppression has left lasting scars on the psyche of African people. The past experiences led to marginalization, internalized racism, and disadvantages for entire communities of Black people, issues that have profoundly altered their social and human perceptions of them.

By Yinka Shonibare via Artthrob

In recent years, artists have emerged as powerful agents of healing, empowerment, and social change, using their craft to address the generational trauma experienced by African communities. Their creative expressions challenge dominant narratives and provide spaces for dialogue and reflection. Artists can visually represent historical events and experiences that have contributed to generational trauma. By creating visual narratives, African artists can offer alternative perspectives and challenge dominant historical narratives that have often marginalized African voices. Through their art, they can shed light on forgotten histories, amplify marginalized voices, and provide a platform for the healing and recognition of generational trauma. Artistic exhibitions, galleries, and cultural institutions can become safe spaces for individuals and communities to engage with art that…