Can Anything Good Come Out of Africa?

Published on 4th October 2005

We\'re not quite sure how serious Philip was when he asked Nathaniel the rhetorical question, \"Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” He may merely have been making a joke. Or maybe he was verbalizing the kind of half-friendly, half-contemptuous rivalry that often characterizes neighboring towns, especially when basketball or football teams are competing. Maybe Philip was serious. Perhaps he regarded Nazareth as a town that never had amounted to much and deserved no respect. Perhaps he viewed its citizens as backward, uncouth, unfashionable, uneducated, and even detestable. Perhaps he judged the citizens not as individuals in their own right.

Last week’s cover story Black Africans: Their Own Worst Disaster? By Jan Lamprecht received diverse reactions from our readers. The reactions ranged from criticism, emotional outbursts to rhetoric questions. Some are carried in this issue.

Who Should Tell The Story of Africa?  In the past, the story of Africa has been told and defined by \'others,\' considered as authorities. The representation of African events and characters by non-Africans has led, in many instances, to the creation of a negative portrayal of the continent. Africans have been presented as a people \"without a past,\" a people who never evolved a civilization of their own and contributed nothing to human progress. The world has been made to believe that the history of the African people began with the coming of Europeans to Africa. If Africans had any history before that date, the writers argue, it could be summed up as \"barbarism, chaos and stagnation.

This is perhaps the most contemporary version of Africa – an Africa where nothing ever works and all good intentions come to naught. This image of Africa stresses all the bad things about Africa, highlighting political corruption, famine, violence, and sickness as the defining characteristics of African life. For example, in her popular Food in History, Reah Tannahill dismisses the very idea of African cuisine because \"... when shortages are the currency of everyday life, filling the stomach is the only art.\" Thus, because Tannahill believes Africans have always been on the verge of starvation, she assumes that nobody ever took the time to develop tasty recipes. Sadly, her book has been in print for decades without this absurdity being corrected.


Can anything good come out of Africa?



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