(Pat yourself in the back, and if you can’t get a friend to do it for you). I mean these days, all it takes is for one “brilliant” individual to come up with a cliche that leaves the rest of us in a frenzy….
Let’s Get some things out of the way:
- There is an economic growth in SOME African countries. This has been the case for several years now, so let’s not act like its new thing, or start singing Kumbayah as if there is some messianic revival in Africa. In other words, stop telling people that Africa is rising, or the new frontier or that it is emerging- let’s be honest that this is another circular clichéd fad that circles itself around every so often. They say history is the best teacher- but we seem to have kicked this particular teacher out of the room and decided to try and sound like we have made a new discovery. Like Really?
- There is technology BOOM in Africa. So get over it and stop
trying to find metaphors to describe the elation of many Africans. Can we all agree that Africa is moved beyond this whole “heart of darkness” bit? Also, pointing out this “boom” every ten seconds makes one seem like there is nothing else to talk about-which is so far from the truth. The truth of the matter, unless you are in Africa and have heard the cry of jubilee- then you are just guessing as to how people in Africa feel. We will not deny that Africans have progressed in terms of technological advancements, but that’s not just the only front of growth- so can we move on to some other African Innovations please….
- This whole “Africa cannot be dependent on aid” mantra is not new! Read transcripts of leaders past and present, you will find that all these “innovative” ideas on progressing Africa forward is not new. (maybe repackaged, in new sexy colors, but nevertheless old mantra). African renaissance, Africa the New frontier, Africa Rising, Africa the Final Frontier (what does this really mean?), oh and now…AFRICA EMERGING for the west. Sooooooo….Africa is emerging from? Basically, lets agree that these concepts are not new, and they will probably come back in another couple of years. So do yourself a favor and read Frantz Fanon, Mohammed Bagayogo, V.Y Mudimbe, Henry Oruka, Samir Amin etc….(maybe we can all learn something)
- Africa is not a pretty package and that is reality- so stop making it into your personal brand. This is particularly for the African diaspora. There are some harsh realities in Africa- and unless you have stepped on the ground and did some research and interacted with the people, stop making Africa (which is huge by the way) into your pet project. You find young (and old) Africans who could not handle the playground, bullying or being called names have now decided that it is their mission in life to make Africa palatable or pleasant. They now want to make Africa appear more appealing to the world so that they don’t have to be ashamed of wearing their African print, or saying their name outloud= Good for you! But now back to reality. Africa is Africa, and instead of trying to fit it into your mode- look again at the reality- find away to tell the story of Africa without all this fluffy material. In other words, grow a pair and get real.
These are going to be reccurring themes this year with a dose of “Get real”. But in have a reality check, and stop thinking of Africa as a pet project. We are so afraid of what is going in Africa that we have painted a picture of Africa not meeting the reality. Africa is complicated and there is a lot of beauty, and a lot of ugliness, a lot of happiness and a lot of pain. there is a lot of good, and a lot of bad. We need to reconcile with this. Understandably, Africa is en vogue but lets not forget that there are real people who are being affected positively and negatively by how each one of us chooses to engage with Africa.
Cut your hair if you must. Go natural if its your thing. Wear the kinte cloth by all means- Infact, wear as many colors as possible (I mean Joseph wore a 12-colored coat non?), Shout your “African” name from the top of your lungs (and insist that others correctly pronounce your name) if that makes you feel more African and proud, start chanting “I am Africa/I am African” if wearing a shirt makes you more African than the kid in Soweto slums barely holding to his own shirt. All these fluffy things that we adopt to make ourselves feel better= Do it all! But lets not delude ourselves thinking that this makes you more African and does good for Africa