Looking at the Numbers

Median American Household Income: $51,939 (2013).

Median Home Price: $189,900 (2014).

Hmm…

Advertisements

Alkebu-Lan (better known as the Country of “Africa”)

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.

Revisionist History

I want to introduce you to someone: his name is Clay Jenkinson.  He’s the guy in the revolutionary attire participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  Mr. Jenkinson is also, among many other things, historian who host a weekly syndicated public radio program called the Thomas Jefferson Hour.

What Mr. Jenkinson looks like normally.
What Mr. Jenkinson looks like normally.

Each week, Thomas Jefferson (Jenkinson) and his co-host talks about events and happenings from Jefferson’s life and time as one of The United States’ founding fathers.  Later in the program, Jenkinson jumps out of character to discuss what he spoke about earlier, while in character.  I have caught the program on a number of occasions, and I can’t help but laugh to myself whilst shaking my head.

I didn’t have high expectations for the show.  I have listened to discourse on the weather in Paris while Jefferson visited, to the quality of that season’s tomatoes from the garden at Monticello.  I will assume that the subject matter has been more substantial on other occasions, but I’ve not had the privilege of experiencing it.  What I would like to point out is the manner in which the show sets itself up.  The premise is a leisurely conversation with one of the greatest human beings ever- Thomas Jefferson.  The 3rd President of the United States, Jefferson is portrayed as a warm, kind, fatherly, almost angelic being of the highest moral standard.  The listeners are made to feel a sense of gratitude, awe, and wonder as you listen to the sage words of this infallible man.  The Jenkinson gathers a great deal of pleasure portraying the Jefferson character.  It comes across in the way he roars his oratory and monologues across the airways.  This man is proud of his President, so much so that we went to great lengths to become Jefferson.

It makes me realize how powerful (and dangerous) it is to re-write history.  Even the most staunch Jefferson supporters should blush at the way his legacy has been delicately preserved.  But preservation has turned to cleansing, as not so endearing facts about his life are vehemently criticized.

Master of the Mountain

Mr. Wiencek states that none of the information presented in his text is in fact new, but one wouldn’t know this based upon to reaction to his, and other less than flattering works about Jefferson.  The problem is that over time, some have decided to dismiss the baser aspects of the man, whilst maintaining the Legend and Prestige.  This is disingenuous at best, and at it’s worst nearly criminal.  The goal of history is for present and future generations to look at events from the past, and learn from them what we can, in an attempt to repeat the good while being vigilant to prevent the bad.  But if we are unwilling to acknowledge that which we are not proud of, can we say an honest attempt at self-reflection and learning has been made?  I would like to see more movement in this direction.