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.

Roadshow on the sidewalk

On my morning walk I can across something fairly interesting:

Per Wikepedia:

Seeburg was an American design and manufacturing company of automated musical equipment, such as orchestrionsjukeboxes, and vending equipment.

Prior owner has a wide range in the way of musical taste:

If I had the money/space/time I would have hauled that thing home. 


It never ceases to amaze me when a person chooses to nonobserve another human, place, thing, or social norm. I marvel at the level of depravity that must be the source of such an act of hostility.

To nonobserve is to deny one’s very existence; to ignore the essence of humanity.

There are examples of this social phenomena all around. From someone not acknowledging a Good Samaritan holding the door for them, to dismissing the history of victimization of poor and marginalized folk all over the globe. I too have chosen to nonobserve from time to time.

There was an instance when an individual who was down on their luck came into my vicinity on the sidewalk whilst I was loading my son into his car seat. He must have seen my facial expression change because he almost didn’t ask me for something to help him get through the day. Realizing my non-verbally communicated disgust, I was so ashamed that I barely looked him in the eye as I tersely declined to assist. It seemed the easier solution: get ride of the nuisance.

As we drove off Kay-Kay, who was probably three at the time, asked “Daddy. What did that man want?” I barely could answer. To him it was obvious. This person needed help. Why didn’t you help him?

I thought a lot about that interaction. Why did I react the way I did. It wasn’t even a reaction; it was more a reflex. I didn’t even think, “Get rid of this beggar.” It was my body’s natural defense mechanism, like when skunk sprays once it senses danger.

I had nonobserved. I didn’t want to see. I didn’t want to deal with someone I’ve been conditioned to view as not worth acknowledging. The problem with this is that in the process, I’d lost sight of the damage this mindset had inflicted on myself. To deny the humanity or existence of another is to diminish my own; it is the way the universe works. Whether we agree or not, all things are connected and interlinked. It is the reason a society which is numb doesn’t shudder when increasingly hostile overtures are made towards its own (more often children, the poor, and other marginalized people).

That day, I decided no more. I would observe all.