” L’écritures d’une petite bougeoutte: Tales of an African Wanderlust and other African Voyages” presents
WHY BEING AFRICA/AFRO-CENTRIC DOESN’T EQUATE WITH EMBRACING POVERTY
Any of my friends or family will tell you without skipping a heartbeat that…
And, well, yes…
(cough cough) Its true.
It doesn’t consume me, but I like nice things. I like to travel the world; my dream is to touch base in every continent and explore the crevices therein, to know intimately the best of what each one has to offer.
And I admire people and friends who have done just that. Basically, I work hard to provide for myself, and because I do so, I believe that I deserve the best of what life has to offer. And so do you.
Something that has been on my mind for literally a decade (for once I am not exaggerating) is the equalization of being proud and “African” with “destitution” and “struggle.”
When we think Afrocentric we think, “earthy.” Cowry shells.. Browns and taupes.. Why is that? While absolutely none of these things bother me in and of themselves (quite contrary, I find them beautiful), why haven’t the majority of well, Western people yet moved beyond these stereotypical and small-minded perceptions to embrace the vastness and diversity of what it means to be African in a globalized and post-colonial world?
Why is it that because I am a foodie, or expect electricity, air conditioning, and running water on a regular and consistent basis that my authenticity as an African is somehow challenged, or better yet, subtly or blatantly balked at?
I moved to Nigeria not because I needed some Peace Corps-like experience (not that there is anything wrong with the Peace Corps) to lend legitimacy to my identity, but rather, because as an African born into a middle-class, Nigerian family, I know that we are better. And because we are better than these silly archetypes, we deserve better.
So, it my duty to demand such at every occasion, rather than humbly bite my tongue and whisper to myself
“Adeola, this is Africa…”
as if my sacrifice of (basic) modern comforts, excellent service, and high standards somehow makes me worthy of praise or martyrdom. Doing such is a disservice to our people, and quite frankly, dare I say, straight-up racist.
Beyond just having the duty to expect more from ourselves, I can do this because I came here not to just complain of a problem, but to (hopefully) offer solutions. Et viola! Reverse brain-drain to the rescue… (cues theme music).
I kid, I kid. This is no “Savior” syndrome and I don’t fool myself on the greatness of my ability to effect change single-handedly in a place stymied by perverse groupthink at its worst. Rather, I believe that a critical mass of people like me, (dare I a say, a bourgeoisie?) that demands such things could be the impetus we need to shift the inert mass of apathy and complacency that currently exists.
OK, OK enough of my soapbox rant. Anyway, let me end with this: thank God that, as with many other current renaissances of black and African culture, Africans throughout the diaspora have rejected these simplistic notions in exchange for something more true. The Afropolitan, or cosmopolitan African, of which there are countless.
In the words of Nicki “I am not a girl that can ever be defined” but if I were to try, I think afropolitan might fit quite nicely