It’s somewhat a daunting task to write about Africa. This is for two peculiar reasons; it’s a continent that has difficult and often complicated social and traditional systems. Another reason to which most people would rather claim familiarity with; is, it’s a continent in the main, of “bad people” with a broken economy and an abysmally below-par-leadership.
Add that to the predictable emigration behaviour of its people (Most Africans wished they came to Europe, and are coming already in their droves) you would likely get a continent trapped in the rubbles of malignant history.
Writing about Africa, which normally should be an artistic pleasure, is beginning to look like an epic anthropological mission, hoping to unearth Africa’s smudged remains, almost entirely buried within the crust of centuries of historical distortions.
But I deem myself lucky to be taking a shot at it meanwhile. Asking a seemingly rhetorical question could serve an opening shot to this important dialogue; how much of Africa do we really know?
Sometimes literature and pieces of historical documents may not always, completely serve the home truths about many things people write about, including Africa and its people. People write for different reasons. Some, for mere scholarly desire and satisfaction, others for deeper and somewhat pecuniary reasons; either to gain political advantage or just a vent for hate or malicious expressions.
In the case of Africa, I think it’s a case of indulgent ignorance. People easily get carried away by myths, yet grossly satisfied with what they have heard or read about, without going further to find out more. The case of Africa has been like the case of ten blind men asked to have a feel of an Elephant and say what they think it’s like. You would naturally have a veiled curiosity as to what these blind men would serve as their findings to people with good and vigorous sight. Your guess is as good as mine.
“It’s like a wide mat,” said the man who felt the Elephant’s broad ears.
“It’s a rope,” said the man who touched the tail.
“Well, it’s simply too large for any human to describe,” the man who touched the massive body of the elephant said.
To the fair umpire, they were all right. But the Elephant could be all these put together, but not any of these standing on its own. What can we glean from this ancestral African Anecdote? It is the mere fact that one can only deliver a verdict on a matter based on where he stands, and what one is able to see at any instant based on circumstantial limitations.
As a start, one way I suggest for us all to begin, if we haven’t, or improve upon, if by any chance, we already begun this task of excavating Africa from the rubbles of history, is to reinvent one’s personal, cultural or even collective circumstance.
Would anyone love to be in Africa and see things as they really are? That experience would have significantly altered this discourse.It would have been a rather hasty conclusion to offer you an invitation to visit Africa, had I told you that Africa is a good continent. You better try to find out. Trust me, the gains are better imagined:
“Adorn my soul with your rainbow
Of uncountable forests, and plenty sunshine,
And millions of smiling faces, coloured with pride,
Allure me once more into your serenade of mild winds,
And spur me with tunes of evening peace,
Welcome me back to the roost of pleasurable rest,
As I glide through blithe memories of sublime encounters with you.”
By Steve Orji
steve orji firstname.lastname@example.org