If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that
shylock,the merchant of venice
It has been an interesting weekend. The most memorable incident this week has got to be the Justine Sacco saga. I will not go into details about her because frankly she has received more fame than she should get. But I will talk of something that bothers me. Something that I feel is in line with this saga. I do feel I should have started with a disclaimer so here goes. “The thoughts expressed in this post are those of the writer (who is me) and may not reflect the thoughts of other Africans. Having said that, I should further say that I am perhaps the proudest African this side of the planet. I have all the features of a black woman, short, dark and with a big behind. With these features there is no way I can deny my roots. So, I learnt earlier on in life that different is good as long as you are proud of who you are.
I learnt long ago that I may sit down and blame all my troubles on the fact that I am black and from Africa but I have always taken the human being route. It is less messy and I have a problem thinking that I am a lesser mortal just coz of my colour and my origin. But today, this once, allow me to play the race and region card.
So yes we have heard about the Dark Continent, the continent that people live on trees and have pet lions. I have also heard of this mystical land and I would like to go there. How cool will it be to whistle to my big cat every time I go for a stroll? I would be the most fearless woman the world has ever seen. Why would I fear rapists or bullies when I have the king of the jungle by my side? Yes, we may have more lions than the developed nations but there is the same fear and respect between the species as anywhere in the world.
The scramble for Africa happened between1884-1914. The time when Africa was divided between conquering powers. During this period my great grandfather probably had a pet but nothing as majestic as a lion. Though the Maasai did kill lions with their bare hands. So imagine being a pale ‘god’ who has just landed in a continent where the natives had the complexion of ibilis and walked around half naked. Apart from this they also believed in numerous gods and witchcraft. Imagine a species that consulted a rain maker when drought struck. A nation so focused on simplicity that it was stupid.
I try so had to look at my forefathers in the same light but that train of thought does not suit me. See I have read about Greek mythology. The numerous gods these people had, the primitive games they took upon to celebrate their gods and I can’t help but draw similarities. Before you tell me this is a myth, human’s way of life always has some bearing in myths. I further take my quest to the good book and there I find pagan worship that drugged on for centuries until Abraham was called by God same scenario with the Muslim story. Then I look at our modern world and wonder. Africans have been used to show how lack of a unified religion is a bad thing yet even the people who introduced organized religion to us are turning towards new age. The rituals that were looked down upon, Hollywood has taken and rebranded and now the cool people are doing it. Think of witches and of people who can shape shift.
I do admit we have it bad. A continent that has been exploited for so long that it questions its value. We have been labeled the Dark Continent yet when you want to be ‘in touch with nature’ you run to Africa. Yes, we still have our pets roaming about and you pay us to see them. Africa a land full of rich culture, rich lands, has been made to feel ashamed and unworthy. The home of malaria and AIDS they call it. The home of the poor and starving and the never ending wars. And yet the richest woman is black and from Africa, and yet I find myself writing a blog post. Yes, we are slow to pick up innovations, we are slow to pollute our land, we are slow to aggressiveness and we are slow to see our worth, but I do believe that there will come a time when we will tell our story, a time when we are proud of mama Africa. Until then in the words of Ice Prince, it is One Love, One Blood, One Africa.
Stop the ignorance and the assumptions; we are just people trying to do the best with what we have.