DISPELLING IGNORANCE- THE PERCEPTION OF AFRICA THROUGH WESTERN EYES.
“You think the only people who are people, are the people who look and think like you. But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew” lyrics from the song colours of the wind by Vanessa Williams.
Colours of the wind is a timeless song that highlights among other things, the importance of not passing judgment from the periphery out of sheer ignorance. Instead, the song advocates that in order to understand a person, take an interest in what they do and try to understand why. You might end up learning a thing or two! With this in mind, allow me to discuss an issue that has been on my mind for a quite a while.
A few days ago, I happened to have received an ignorant tweet from a random guy on twitter. It happened as we were deliberating about American politics specifically about the Trump administration. I guess he was offended after I mentioned that President Trump’s new tariff towards Mexico was undermining the USMCA (United States- Mexico- Canada Agreement). He stated that I go back and deal with ‘african problems’ and stop meddling with issues concerning the developed world since they were beyond me. The tone of that statement was off, and I felt belittled due to the mere fact that I come from a certain part of the world. The aim was obviously to put me down and ‘put me in my place’. However, what saddened me was the fact that this individual was an afrodescendant, so I expected him to have a bit of respect for the motherland (Africa). Our conversation disintegrated after this, as I felt no need to keep it going.
What comes to your mind when you think of Africa?
Let me guess
The list is endless, but the things mentioned above are some of the notions held in the minds of people in the western world. However, Africa is beyond this idiotic portrayal perpetuated specifically by the Western media.
Africa is a beautiful continent with great cultures and vast amount of resources, however, I cannot ignore its bad share of leaders over the years. Bad governance and poor leadership isn’t an African problem, both vices are widespread across the globe. There is no reason to undermine a person from certain part of the world as a result of where they come from. Many people do not realise that there are so many Africans who come from affluent backgrounds that are even better than those found in the Western world.
It does sadden me that the world prefers to see this hunger-stricken and impoverished continent whereas disregarding progress Africa has made. Things are changing here, many people have access to education and turn their life around. People now have access to good healthcare, and go on vacation from time to time. Top range vehicles, high-end shopping malls, and posh estates are sprouting rapidly throughout the cities.
This is not the Africa you know of. Dictatorships are now falling, and the whole concept of democracy is being embraced. Human rights groups are comfortably finding their place in the continent without intimidation by governments. Women’s rights as well as representation are championed by a vast majority.
What can be done to dispel this ignorance?
•A quick internet search will help you dispel weird notions about Africa. There are great articles, forums or even YouTube channels that disseminate useful information about the continent.
•Branch out and seek some African friends. It may seem like a longshot but try seeking African themed events in your locality. Network in such places. See life in a different perspective.
•Visit Africa. This is arguably the best way to dispel ignorance because you will experience everything first hand.
As I conclude, being African is not something to be ashamed of, but it is something that should be embraced.
What are your thoughts on this? Leave a comment.
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