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How to think of Africa and Africans

How to think of Africa and Africans

A satirical guide at having perspectives and navigating the thought process as an African citizen

By: Adedimeji Quayyim Abdul-Hafeez

God bless the good old Trump for stating the African continent as full of “shithole countries”. Yeah, we are shitholes and we should know that already. As an African, one of your best assets is knowing your level and knowing where you indeed belong. This goes to the very core of my argument on the ‘proper’ ways of thinking about global activities to avoid being labeled on the wrong side of the divide.

As an African, if you don’t know already, the benchmark of global standards should always be the west. Looking for just and fair democracies? The west has it (never mind cracks in their institutions and racial segregations). Thinking of ways of how the world should progress in the areas of science, arts and technology? The west is the best bet (hey, shut that thought that African cultures, sciences and traditions are equally viable). You have to know that the west holds the balance, for they are the entitled creations amongst men. Rejoice, for within everything white lay purity and enlightenment.

It must have sunk into your depths that Africans do not really have a story except for one told by the whites (which is, “we really do not have a story”). We were a race of savages residing in dense thick forests liberated by red faces who took our best men to build muscles on Western farmlands. We should be grateful for that: to men who brought us out from the black garden of Eden where we were shrouded in thick leaves and from our abodes in treetops; to ‘lights’ who reformed us under governments and discarded our customs, which are “barbaric and inhuman,” and made their viced virtues embody our ways of living (ignore all the arguments in Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, those red faces were our saviours); to men who sat in Berlin in 1885 to divide the continent, like a piece of cake, into borders and territories regardless of our ethnic relations under the insightful guidance and gaze of the Almighty. We must really be grateful, for we had no insight to do these all on our own.

The African in you must have indeed whispered to your senses that you have an history. That your forefathers conducted trades with Arabs and Berbers and that we had communities enlightened in the conduct of prosperity and development. That the Old Ghana, Mali, Songai, Oyo, Congo, Sudan, Fulani Empires reeled in riches and economic abundance. That your traditions and customs upheld justice and fairness and that held up societies in law and order. But no, as I said earlier, you have no story, nor history. (Discard all those arguments in Adekunle Ojelabi’s A Textbook of West African History or Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk The Dangers of a Single Story; Africans have no rights to tell their stories because they are “Africans”.) You are a conglomerate of chaos: shrouded in ineptitude, in pain, in disorder. We are the jaded hands of diluted histories, harboring the oblivions of a utopic past. We are the citizens of hope, held forlorn to the course of “mis-tories”.  

“The worst thing that colonialism did was to cloud our view of our past”
― Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

African intellectuals should learn how to think and behave like their western superiors, for they are blessed with superior thought. All arguments twisted in long words to hide their mediocrity and bias, as long as they are presented in roundabout forms to make them look intellectual, as long they come from the west, are true. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson’s arguments in their book, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty, on failures of countries to take advantage of “critical junctures,” “small differences,” “breaking the mold,” or lingering in the “vicious circle” should be held to heart, like words of the divine gospel, even if they appear absurd and impartial. All that comes from the west, even from a rogue economist like in Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner’s Freakonomics should be believed, for in them lies salvation.

If you are to think about Africa, your imageries must be shrouded in gloom. Like thinking of a weeping and massacred Mother Afrika. Or of famine infested areas in Africa’s conflict zones. Or of pot-bellied African leaders with poverty-ridden citizens. Or of African witches and wizards flying on broomsticks in the night to perpetuate evil. These are all what these global index reports show anyway. Your thinking must be steered towards the fact that African countries need aid and borrowings (which they can’t pay back) so that these rich “philanthropic” countries can find places to sow their seeds of charity. Let all the happy sides of our traditions and way of life stay in Africa (to keep us happy in all that we face). Portray not Africa as Wakanda in your thoughts.

Think of Africa as an amalgamation of divides, not as a body of humanity’s blessed species. View the pureness of Africans on division of tribes: Hutu and Tutsi, Yoruba and Igbo, Hausa and Fulani, Madingo and Tucolor, Asante and Wolof; as a clash of cities like Gao and Timbuktu, Oyo and Dahomey, Sokoto and Borno, Abia and Onitsha; as a duel of dieties: Arochukwu and Ogun, Sango and the Asante Golden Stool. Do not mind that these divisions are fueled by the embers of western colonialism. View a light-skinned African as superior to a dark-skinned African (as though our humanity lies on superiority complexes). Think not of the absurdities embedded within these theories. Rejoice, for within everything white lay purity and enlightenment.

Think of Africa’s leaders as ambassadors of the Almighty Himself, fulfilling His wishes and unquestionable of the vices. View nationalists who fought for their country’s independence as divine life leaders, entitled to lead and bleed their nations till and to death. Think about Africa with glints of pessimism, paying no attention to the great potentials it holds and portends.

Adedimeji Quayyim Abdul-Hafeez is interested in laws, media and communications, journalism and anything that knowledge can be found in. He views the world as a conglomerate of crumbling realities and is enamored in how satires embody hope of our collective humanity. He receives mails on quayyimadedimeji@gmail.com and tweets on the bird app @quayyimbakr 

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