A few weeks ago I was having a casual conversation about what, I cannot recall at the moment. What I do remember is an incident that occurred during the talk.
The topic of discussion was fairly random; from current events, to sports, to the going ons in our respective homes. My acquaintance then began commenting on a colleague he knew from “Africa”. Nowhere specific, just “Africa”. This individual held some particular beliefs that my acquaintance found odd, to which he asked me, “But isn’t that how most African’s are?” I looked at him, trying to hold back my incredulity and calmly responded, “How should I know?”
As I’ve mentioned before, I am a first-generation Nigerian, born and raised in the U.S. Outside of a few stints here and there, I have spent the entirety of my existence in the U.S. I do posses what many would call a “traditional Nigerian” name. Regardless, I have come across this phenomena of People referring to Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) as a single country on countless occassions.
It’s important to note that my acquaintance himself is the descendant of people taken forcibly from Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) hundreds of years ago. To him, Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) is a homogeneous, unvaried region. It is his fault that he holds such views. The many cultures, societies, and people who comprise Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) is well documented. My concern is that incidents like this are not isolated. Read most articles or listen to most radio shows or television programs, and you will get steady dose of this narrative:
Africa = one big wild, weird, backward, tragic country.
There’s almost a pride in knowing the least about it or being uninformed. I’m curious as to how such an erroneous account became the standard. Like all places, Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) has it’s share of problems. Poor leadership, tension between ethnic & cultural groups, and difficult economic conditions have plagued the land. But these are not unique to Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”). All people, since the creation of time, have experienced violence, greed, poor governance, war, and economic hardship. Like all places in this world Alkebu-Lan (the place most call Africa) is made of many different people with many different thoughts, views, and opinions. I have yet visited or heard of a place where everyone though, felt, and acted the same way about anything. Even here in the U.S., the bastion of all things civilized and well with mankind, you’d be hard pressed to find a state, let alone an entire region, who get alone and work together on a consistent basis.
So if it hasn’t been said, I’m saying it now:
Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) is a continent comprised of 54 sovereign countries, and Western Sahara, a member state of the African Union whose statehood is disputed by Morocco. There are people of all shape, size, color, and variety. The continent has virtually all the types of landscapes found on this Earth. It is place where people love, live, and do the best they can with what they’ve been given, just like we all try to do on this planet.
Spread the word.