DOES BEING BLACK EQUATE TO BEING AFRICAN????
Tricky question eh! To which some may just be prompted to give a single direct yes or no answer. But it’s more than that. I’m of the opinion not all black people are African; to some extent I thought this was obvious until my Instagram question poll results proved me wrong. There are so many black people who are not African, they just have an African ancestry and that’s all. This holds for most African-Americans, UK citizens who are black, French citizens who are black etc. Basically most blacks in white spaces who have spent all their lives there.
I know some reading this feel like plucking my eyes out already. ‘How dare you blatantly strip is of our identity? Whatever even gives you the right to so do?’ Relax eh! Breathe in…Breathe out…Look right…Look left! Now let me explain my ‘theory’.
An identity is much more than the surface; it’s much more than the mere colour of one’s skin. It’s more of the culture, the daily struggles of a people that bind them into this invisible contract to live together and forge into the future. It creates a fabric that kneads and ties everyone together.
Concrete example; Sub-Saharan Africans we share a common struggle; economic/political/ social. When Mauricia (Cameroonian) tells me of how a public official’s wife grabs public amenities for herself, or when Uche explains to me the flaws of the Lagos governor, my Kenyan soul totaaaaalllly understands them…. totaaaallly relates to the incidents. Why? Because its is almost if not exactly similar in Kenya. This day we were watching the campaign songs in the different countries, the similarities will shock you; from how women are given shukas in Kenya during macampaigns with the politicians’ faces painted all over them to the dances and beautiful chaos that come with the campaign periods. Its all soooo similar. This is just in the political scope.
Go to the social aspect; who remembers Yori Yori by the Brackets😍🤩💞💞…..Yoooohhh, that song manze, if you did not know it back then, you did not know what being cool and dope back in the day was😎😎. This was in Kenya; in most west African countries, the song was also a childhood marker. Heeehhh, how could I have forgotten the ‘If you do me I do you’ by P-Square, and literally all their initial hit songs. These songs, were played all over in Kenya and made my childhood, despite them being by Nigerian artists. Cameroonians also jammed to them, as did the Benin and Niger and Central Africa republicans and the Ghanaians and the Ugandans and the Tanzanians…etcs. The games we played as kids, they were universally played in most African countries.
I just had to….Lol!
Economically, well, need I say much🙄. Hasn’t the international media conveyed the message enough via photos of malnourished kids with flies all over their faces, and dead cow carcasses and thin women with their boobs all uncovered and shit. Need I elaborate more than this? 💁♀️💁♀️Guess the countless idiocratic questions most Africans abroad in white spaces have encountered sow just the scope of the damage done by the over-emphasis on this single sided story on our beautiful continent.❤️
If you have not listened to this phenomenal speech by this graceful, empowering strong feminist; Chimamanda Adichie, I’ve gotcha…
I digress; blame emotions. Back to how the similarity of our experiences as Africans brought up in the continent lead to the distinction between being black vs being African. What all this does is it creates a common identity among us, a common story, an almost similar culture. This is very different from the experience of an African-American or a black person born and bred abroad. A person’s environs greatly influence one’s culture and one’s viewpoints. Abroad, a black person will rely on BBC/CNN/AL JAZEERA etc to get information on Africa. The media will be their main source of information; as we all know, the media is bias as a dog biting a man is not story but the vice versa is a story; simply put, the ill sided parts of life will always make the headlines, and money. So, due to this, most of them will grow up with this view of Africa and the Africans living in the continent that is very negative and full of bias, a bias they themselves may not even notice. And, it’s not their fault really as no one choses how they are socialized etc.
And this will explain why for most blacks, the adoption of the African culture will always be in an effort to make it seem cool; take for instance, African Associations on campus; most are associated with coolness etc…Well, at least in my school it’s the case. For an African, this can be confusing at first as this culture being manifested as cool is normal/natural/usual for us. It’s all we’ve known all/most of our lives. We’ve never had to have a day to ‘celebrate the African culture’. We celebrated it each day we ate alloco/jollof/ugali. We celebrated it each Fridays when the dj played Maledhwe and we dance our butts off. Its normal for us you see. And that is the difference.
On top of that, the reasoning of the two groups are totally different. The saviour complex will always be there when a black talks of the ‘mother continent’. For an African, there is this positivist view that can almost be termed utopist, at times, there’s resignation…but can we really blame those who grew weary of awaiting change??
To conclude my rant, does being black equate to being African? NO!