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Kunmi Omisore: Tales of an Africanist

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I was very recently told that I seem ‘quite British’. I smiled, nodded and moved on. Because what they actually meant to say was that there was nothing distinctly ‘African’ about me. My background is no shape or form underprivileged; I don’t have a noticeable accent which makes words sound different from how they are actually meant to sound, and I don’t like lions or tigers any more than the next man.

In truth, there’s nothing ‘British’ about me. I don’t like tea; or Coronation Street; or roast potatoes much to the dismay of my friend, Charlotte. But for the simple fact that I am not clearly ‘different’ from the average English person, suddenly makes me ‘British’.

I’m a Nigerian who has been faced with the challenges every enlightened Third-World produce is exposed to if they move abroad. I get asked the most bizarre things on a semi-regular basis. When I first moved to England, I got asked everything from whether or not there were banks and cash machines in ‘your country’, to whether I was met at the airport with dancers holding spears and shields. I’ve had the “I’m from Nigeria” quickly followed by “Oh, I always wanted to go on a safari trip”, as though those two go naturally together.

I’ve had people who have no real understanding of the words, toss “tribal” and “ethnic” into conversations with me, as though ‘ethnicity’ is something strictly synonymous with foreigners. On one occasion (and I tell this story all the time), I was asked if I lived in a hut (this is not a joke). The person who asked this then followed the question which a long, hearty laugh, claimed to be teasing and begged me not to be offended. The absolute nerve. Still, emotions aside, I most definitely picked up on the main point in that ridiculously offensive question. And I must say that I am honestly fed up of this ‘cultural characteristic’ of Africans as helpless, unfortunate victims. The ones who are enlightened enough to understand that we don’t all walk miles to fetch a keg of water are but a handful. As a result of it, we are subjected to the irritating amazement of strangers when a story is told of having a driver or going bowling with friends instead of dancing under the moonlight in the village square.

The media feeds us day-in-day-out with information about issues, people and places that are unknown to us and we subconsciously absorb it and form our beliefs on these basis. And that is very scary, because what is out there is thoroughly lacking in diversity. As beneficial a thing as they are, I can’t stand charity adverts. You know, the typical save-the-dying-African-kid sort, accompanied by the slow, sorrowful music to pull on post-colonial heart strings. Amazingly, I still used to donate to certain charities monthly, but only for personal reasons. Whatever the original intention, they have the ability to dehumanise and reduce people to great extent. They paint pictures of hopelessness and despair, almost to the point where anyone watching would probably feel like they would burn in Hell if they did not spare “just £2” every month. ‘Africanness’ and poverty have become like peas in a pod. It is the unspeakable danger of a one-sided story.

In a CNN interview, Chimamanda Adichie spoke of the director of a young African writer’s workshop, saying “Somebody – an English man, an ‘Africanist’ – was telling you what your story was…an African story had to be overtly political, it had to deal with violence or poverty…you couldn’t write about people falling in love because its minor. In Africa, terrible things are happening.” She then goes on to add “They’re human beings as well who are laughing, and cooking, and working, and finding ways to keep their dignity.” Well, not according to mainstream media.

Let me be perfectly clear; I am not in any way trying to underestimate the hardship of millions of Africans all around the continent, who really do have difficult lives. My point is that we are not all in the same position and that should never be taken for granted, just because of some bored international celebrity who wants to use the starving Africans as avenue to get a double-page spread in a magazine. There are countless people in countless countries around the world who are underprivileged.

So after oodles of frustrating conversations, I made my decision. I began to sit very quietly in talks and seminars about The Act of Thanksgiving, and carefully watch as the first picture that comes up on the PowerPoint is a poor, helpless Ugandan child. And I patiently smiled and nodded (it’s my thing) when someone seemed astonished when I told them how I’d like to move back to Nigeria because “England isn’t for everyone”. And when someone exclaimed at my never having seen an elephant in my entire life, as though they casually strolled through my backyard, I’d give a little laugh and express how incomplete my life is as a result.

Have you had any experiences similar to these? Do you agree with the notion that the depiction of Africans is skewed? Let’s get talking!

Photo Credit: karmin.tocka.com.mk

Kunmi Omisore is a non-award-winning opinionist, currently living the life of a nomad. She believes in the power of words and the importance of people being able to express themselves. She is presently trying to make sure she doesn't end up penniless. Follow her on Twitter @Kunmi_O for more stimulating conversation and high levels of weistfulness.

48 Comments

  1. Moi

    February 26, 2014 at 9:14 am

    lol!!! I really had to re-read this twice just for the laughs! I love you!!! It really can be frustrating, having to defend the ‘brand’ of you. Culture has evolved jor, people need to get with the program! Gowwd writing, very interesting read!

  2. @edDREAMZ

    February 26, 2014 at 9:37 am

    She is so beautifull…. But the way this white takes us to be is sometimes makes me laugh……
    .
    .
    ***COMMENTING FRM 1770***

  3. looters

    February 26, 2014 at 9:59 am

    There’s actually nothing wrong with people ‘dancing in the moonlight at the village square and carrying kegs of water’. it shows diversity and appreciation for human culture. I think the worst ignorance from westerners isn’t even not appreciating our very own technological and socio-economic advancement, but for looking down on simplicity of the ancient style of living. I know countless well-to-do people who would rather spend their lives in the villa and enjoy the simple pleasures of old. It just boils down to appreciating diversity in the way of living.

  4. nelsonCarson

    February 26, 2014 at 10:06 am

    I still find it hard 2believe that there are still people in the 21st century who still have a single catastrophic picture of Africa.

    • Blessmyheart

      February 26, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      I sometimes think they’re being deliberately condescending. I mean, really? In this internet age?

  5. mo

    February 26, 2014 at 10:17 am

    well written… its a shame that Africa has become synonymous with poverty, despair and tales of woe. i’m of the opinion that apart from the media (that have played a huge role in playing up these ridiculous stories) our leaders also ‘permit’ these stories in order for them to get some kind of ‘benefits’ to provide succor to the down trodden but we all know where that goes…
    In my opinion, the modern day view of Africans is that we have been split into 2: on one hand are the impoverished people barely clinging to life and on the other are the select few who have stolen all that they can lay their hands on living lavish lifestyles…

    its a sad case.

  6. NT JUSTOK.COM

    February 26, 2014 at 10:24 am

    No time 2 seat n read all dis….Good morning BN readers

    • Ready

      February 26, 2014 at 11:56 am

      Umm…you might have to go back to the blog you came from. Over here, we read…then comment. And essays (funny essays too) less than 800 words are not too long for us.

      Back to the topic, I read this and thought “Meh…this is overflogged”. I say that because we know why foreigners think as they do. I’m not excusing it, but it is what it is. When that BBC expose on Life in Lagos came out, people lamented about how it showed poverty..but when they do Tatler UK type articles on how “The Nigerians have arrived”, we complain. The truth is, for countries like ours, the extremes are really pronounced, and we middle class people are a minority, albeit a growing one. I think that we have to develop enough such that media coverage can do nothing but change.

  7. CHOBBIS from GHANA

    February 26, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Excellent work girl, the next time those brits make silly comments kindly refer them to BellaNaija so they see articles and photos of the other side of Africa….annoying pple

  8. Thatgidigirl

    February 26, 2014 at 10:37 am

    First of all, it irks me when i hear Nigerians and other africans in the UK say “I’m going to africa, when i was in africa, back home in africa…”. Africa is a continent not a country and it is our duty to an extent to project the individuality of the countries to the westerners. My european and asian friends never say “I’m going home to europe or asia or middle east”. Nigerians would live in UK for 1year and start calling their country Africa, making it look like one friggin huge safari!!! Secondly, I think a lot of us are guilty in some ways of forming opinions about different countries based on what the media has fed us, although its more with africa. For instance, to me Italy is synonymous with mafia so i went there expecting to see a couple of Godfatherish moves, I even insisted on visiting sicily for the sole purpose of having a feel of “mafiaism”. Thats what I’ve heard, watched and read a lot about italy, there was no rave about their good food, the warmth of the people or the wealth of history in the country. I guess the same applies to Africa, and the constant exodus of its citizens doesn’t help matters. They probably just assume that it must really be bad for africans back home for all of them to be fleeing like that.

    • Jane Public

      February 26, 2014 at 12:32 pm

      Bless you girl. I had typed my comment before I read yours. I hear such statements from Nigerians too. When I was in Africa, I am going home to Africa. This same people now have the nerve to whine like Kunmi here (sorry, she is whining), when the people around you think the continent is one huge safari with monkeys jumping on trees and people drinking from wells. You want people to see you differently, how about changing the dialogue first.

  9. pazzy

    February 26, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Good write up… never feel discouraged or intimidated with their laugh… cos ur reaction depend on their attitude with u…make then knw the stuff u are made of and with time you will be highly respected…

  10. Bukky

    February 26, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Very well said Kunmi, you are on point. Equating Africa with poverty, stupidity and low self esteem and all sort of nasty things. Apart from ignorance which is an epidemic amongst our white friends, the media also contribute a great deal. Just like Kunmi said, trying to educate them about Africa is like dropping a cup of water in an ocean , they are so naive and because most of them don’t travel out of their country they have no idea what happens elsewhere. I once met a 65 year old woman who was so excited to go to brisbane for the first time ! This is like living in Abeokuta and going to Lagos for the first time ! The irony of the story is that this same woman is telling you about the violence and Poverty in Africa. You hear questions like ‘do you eat rice, do you bathe in the river , do you eat from clay pots etc. all manner of disgusting questions. But this is how I respond now’ Have you ever travelled out of here before? When the answer is no, I tell them you have no idea what you are talking about and no matter what I tell you yi won’t make a difference ! Shikena! It works like magic. They keep quiet and walk away subdued

  11. Jane Public

    February 26, 2014 at 10:56 am

    You know the problem with you and countless others, it is the term Africa that y’all throw around with misplaced pride, and wonder why they lug all of you in the same boat. I sniggered when I read this piece and thought, darling, you are partly guilty of the generalisation. What in the world is an Africanist. Huh? The world summarises us all in one word and we accept it. They don’t recognise us as consisting of different countries and cultures and we gladly tag ourselves, further propagating the ignorance. What in the world is an African. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it is our continent, but do you hear Brazilians, Argentininans, call themselves South Americans. Do you hear the Chinese, Indians, Japanese, call themselves Asians or things like Asianist? Like seriously. You hear words like African food. That term gets my blood boiling. Even food bloggers use that word. There is nothing like “African food”. Be specific. Afro-politan, Afro-centric, Afro, this, Afro that. Why won’t they think we are all the same thing? Have you heard the term European food before? You hear British food, French Food, Italian Food, Spanish food, Mexican food, Indian food, Thai food, Chinese food, Mediterranean cuisine, hardly do you hear the term European food, Asian food, because IT DOESN’T EXIST. Europeans and Asians differentiate themselves and woe betide you tar them with the same brush, they will go nuclear on your ass, but we, nooooooo, we loves it. African food. What does that mean? Mschew. Is Nigerian food the same as Ethiopian food? Or Ugandan food? If you see Ethiopan food today, will you recognise it? No. Lets go to fashion. WHAT THE HELL IS AFRICAN FASHION OOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Like Seriously!!!! I hate that term. It doesn’t allow individuality, creativity, identity. We gladly scream African fashion and wear the badge with pride. They have robbed us of our individuality and we sef don’t have any. What is African fashion? Adire, Aso oke, Batik, Ankara, Kente, instead of us championing the cause to call these fabrics by their names, we gladly say African fabric. One designer called the Kaftan a Shift dress and I wanted to smack her upside down. Ever heard of European or Asian fabric before? We know silk, cotton, lace, etc by their individual names. Even lace, we have tulle, chantilly lace, etc. From the name, you can identify with the origin. Another annoying term, African Music. For the love of all things Holy, what is African Music? Why we now get upset when oyinbo people make sweeping generalisations, when we imbibe it ourselves. My friend’s brother in law owns a company that sells a range of bottled spices and sauces. Guess what is on the label? African ketchup, African sth, African that. I thought huh? The majority of the ingredients are Nigerian. Their products appeared on BBC a few days ago and she sent me the link. I watched the show and James Martin was highlighting takeway food from different countries including this company’s bottled Jam. At the end of the show, he said with takeaway food, we have been to China, India, Thailand and AFRICA. I just closed the page. I was irritated. You have been to Africa ke. Why didn’t you lug the other countries under the word Asia. I don’t blame him. The owner of the company uses the word Africa, wetin concern James Martin. So Kummie dear, you are part of the problem. When they use words like ethnic and tribal, don’t blame them. When we start to push out our individualities as a continent, the world will be forced to see us differently. Until then, deal with the embarrasing questions, na you carry your led go their country. Sorry for the epistle.

    • whocares

      February 26, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      I agree with you. Firstly you note how they said you were” British” and not European, yet you thought that meant you are not “African” enough? You my dear are the architect of your problem. I have been told something along the same line on numerous occasions, heck some of my Nigerian friends call me bounty (black on the outside, white inside?) yet my perception to that has always been I am probably not Nigerian enough for them… I will throw down to humpty dumpty head Sean Tizzle’s “Sho lee” one minute and in the next breathe I am singing along to a FATM song, or RHCP.. That is who I am. I have never thought of it in an “African” sense.
      Africa is a continent, there is no general African behaviour, and it is perceptions and thoughts like these that enables the stupid questions you get. If you seem British, then that may mean that you are not Nigerian enough! I have been reading a lot about this Africanist, Afrocosmopolitanism movement and all these shit and they just annoy me. I am Nigerian and I present myself as such. When I speak and my accent comes up, and you see the look of confusion as they can’t place it, I point out that that right there is my Nigerian self, I do not know how to be “African”. When I wear my Ankara nicely styled as a dress I point out what it is… A Nigerian attire, when I take my yam pottage, or jollof rice to work and I allow my co-workers a spoon full each (I am stingy with food) I explain to them what they are eating is a Nigerian delicacy, and I have given one or 2 people recipes. If more people did that we would not have this problem of extreme generalisation from mentally lazy people.
      Don’t let the few stupid people you meet frustrate you. You either need new friends, or you need to buy them books. If they cannot afford to travel and see the world beyond them, they can afford to read or google it.
      That said, I met some girls two weeks ago when I went to a cocktail bar. They were convinced that I had to be mixed raced because of my complexion… Tipsy or not, I took the time out to school them on melanin, and melanin deficiency and how I can be fully Nigerian with my yellow papwpaw self. (I am glad they did not even mention the word “bleaching to me” because some blood would have been shed) There is no excuse in this day and age to come up with some of the statements people have asked you.

    • Jane Public

      February 26, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      ” I have been reading a lot about this Africanist, Afrocosmopolitanism movement and all these shit and they just annoy me.” That right there is the gospel. When I tell people the same, they accuse me of being a sell out. I have also been called a Coconut. Not like I care. You sure aint gonna see me, championing the cause of Africanism. I am a Nigerian first and foremost. Heck, even Scottish people don’t like being called British, and that is tiny United Kindgom o. People from Northern Ireland, still call themselves Irish. With th0se three (GB, Scotland and Northern Ireland), they even have more close ties, throughout history, but with us, we are as diverse as diverse comes, but are comfortable perpetuating the word “African”.

    • Private vikky

      February 26, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      ahhhhh @ jane public, can i hug you?…i had to stop half way through and skipped down here to comment when i saw your comment, because like you, i was getting quite irritated. i couldn’t have put it better. this is the same thing i have been telling my aunt and friends since being here. i remember one time my aunt and i were out and someone said to us ‘ oh, i like your accent. where are you from?’ and my aunt proceeded to answer Africa and i jumped right in, ” ma’am, we are from Cameroon precisely, West Africa (though we are beginning to be lumped in more with Central Africa, that’s when it concerns money n currency). and the lady then said it was her first time meeting Cameroonians and asked us about our country and we went on to school her (basically me). now tell me, after my aunt answered “from Africa”, what was she hoping to tell the lady about Africa if she had asked or you really think the lady didn’t know we were Africans from our accent before asking?, it was our place to educate her that we were indeed from a region of Africa n it irks me every single time when i hear people do that. i always try to explain, seek and show your individuality because yes, we are proud to be from the motherland but the motherland is very vast and huge and people need to know that always. you have said every thing that needs to be said about this topic and i am not even gonna try to repeat. so for all you wondering why you get treated the way you get treated or told the things you get told, see @jane public’s response and then maybe, just maybe, things will start changing because it all needs to start with our dialogue.

  12. Jane Public

    February 26, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Sorry, I spelt your name wrong. Blame auto correct. Oh, I jsut have to type. Remember the prank video of last week? Lewisham Mayor or whatever. He is pranking his “African dad”. Really? Your African dad. RHOA, they were going to South Africa on holiday. Where did the mumu’s say they were going? Of course Africa. Even African Americans display worse levels of ignorance. Kenya is dating an “African Prince”. Hmmmmn, let me see. Has anyone called William a European Price before or Prince Albert, he is a European Prince right? and Bella Naija, a few months ago you guys published a piece exactly like this. Exactly. With someone complaining about this problem. I think the piece started with someone being asked how she knows how to use a microwave and if they have cinemas in her country. We have seen this piece before. Y’all are just recycling posts. I can go dig it out o.

    • Bleed Blue

      February 26, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      LOL! Jane Public, I’ve never seen you this fired up before…your comments are usually thorough and well thought out but this ^^^^ right here? Sista, I can tell the matter is boiling you a tad bit.

      I see the point in your content though, and I was going to make similar comments but you beat me to it. But erm…perhaps my delivery would have been a bit milder 😉

    • Jane Public

      February 26, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      Hahahahaha. I was actually quite irritated. Probably because I watched that James martin episode yesterday. I was so excited to see his products on BBC, only for the guy with an obvious Nigerian name to start waving the Africa word out again. I wanted to say Bros, why now. You get this golden media opportunity to showcase ingredients out of Nigeria and you are waving Africa, Africa, Africa all over the place. You have lived in Nigeria for years. I also have a good mind to write to James Martin and tell him, Dear Sir, you have only been to a very tiny bit of Africa, Nigeria to be precise. The ingredients in that Jam are native to Nigeria. Seeing this piece on BN today, just brought the bile up again. Especially coming from one of us for that matter, who is complaining about generalisation. Will try tone down the irritation. Lol.

    • Jane Public

      February 26, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      Hahahahaha. I was actually quite irritated. Probably because I watched that James martin episode yesterday. I was so excited to see his products on BBC, only for the guy with an obvious Nigerian name to start waving the Africa word out again. I wanted to say Bros, why now. You get this golden media opportunity to showcase ingredients out of Nigeria and you are waving Africa, Africa, Africa all over the place. You have lived in Nigeria for years. I also have a good mind to write to James Martin and tell him, Dear Sir, you have only been to a very tiny bit of Africa, Nigeria to be precise. The ingredients in that Jam are native to Nigeria. Seeing this piece on BN today, just brought the bile up again. Especially coming from one of us for that matter, who is complaining about generalisation. Will try tone down the irritation. Lol.

    • Ekwitosi

      February 26, 2014 at 5:50 pm

      @Bleed Blue I am with you I love to read @Jane Public’s comments too because no matter the issue she is very thorough and is a good writer. @Jane Public you are a good writer and I would love to read a piece from you like what your pet peeves are! Your tone can be very hard at times but mostly conversational, great written words and very easy to follow.

      Ok that being said what about Americans that will hear that you are from Africa, Nigeria to be precise and then they would ask you if you speak Swahili? During Christmas season some would out rightly ask you how you are going to celebrate Kwanzaa! Huh?

    • Iris

      February 26, 2014 at 6:39 pm

      I’m officially a fan of yours.

    • Jane Public

      February 27, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      @Ekwitosi, I actually burst out laughing on my way to the car, people were giving me weird looks. Americans in the good ole’ US of A. I live there, so I get you well. I don’t know if you live in a big town or not, but those who live in the outback sure get even worse questions. Somoene asked a friend if they have planes in her country. She said No. She swam the Atlantic to get here. The look on that person’s face, she said was priceless. Hahahaha

  13. Samantha

    February 26, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Very well written!

  14. Troll

    February 26, 2014 at 11:14 am

    It’s true they (our white friends) see us as poor and primitive but honestly are they wrong? The pictures of poor Ugandan children, are they fabricated? With the rate of immigration into their countries for better education, hospitals and even general life why won’t they think that Africa is seeped in poverty. If WE want to change the mindset of the whites, we have to change ourselves. Africa shouldn’t be the poorest continent on earth but it is. We have all the resources we need to live comfortably but we still get things wrong.
    Yes, it’s true that most of these things are exaggerated but we give them things to exaggerate.
    The African man should drop his greed and pick up common sense; things would start getting better for us.

  15. Energy bill

    February 26, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Like the writer said, it is not to underestimate the poverty in Africa or gloss over the fact that Africa has it’s problems but you’d be amazed at how uneducated the average British person/white person in the UK is. At their sheer ignorance and stupidity. I have accepted it and don’t fail to put them in their place when they come with such stupidity. And by education I don’t mean the four walls of a classroom, education is much more than that. In fact I have taken it upon myself to educate my Slovakian friend and give a balanced view when it comes to things like this (lol). When we first met, she made generalizing statements about Africa and Africans, she couldn’t get her head round the fact that my English was better than hers (and I don’t mean cut glass English accent). I have had to explain some English words and expressions to her on numerous occasions, this morning included. And this is someone who has traveled to more countries in different continents than I have. What you learn in a geography class can not be compared to what you learn when you actually travel. Travelling in addition to pleasure is also educative and informative. I had to ask her what she does/gained on her travels. To Educate her, I told her Africa is a continent and it is bigger than Europe. So if Europe that is smaller than Africa does not have a homogeneous culture, what are the chances of Africa having one.To bring the point closer to home I used her country (which is less than 2.5 hrs away from UK on a plane) and France (which is less than an hour) as examples. This stopped the ignorant generalizing statements. As per the English Language, I reminded her that Nigeria was colonized by Britain and English is our official Language so majority of Nigerians are educated in English Language.

    The media has a lot to answer for on the unbalanced view they feed people concerning Africa. I was chatting to someone one day and she made a statement on how dangerous it must be dangerous to live in Lagos what with all the things you hear about Lagos in the news. I told her it is no more dangerous than London and Manchester what with all the gun and knife crime you hear in the news. That shut her up.

    In putting such people in their place, I don’t gloss over the poverty and hut/bush living in Africa or Nigeria. I present a balanced view which the media doesn’t. You can not underestimate the power and impact of the media. What they see in the media fosters some kind of ‘savior’ complex on them and anyone who has lived in the UK would know that UK and ‘Charity’ go hand in hand.

    • Energy bill

      February 26, 2014 at 12:04 pm

      Sorry for the epistle, a couple more things to add on their ‘savior complex’. This guy at work took great pleasure in telling me his girlfriend works in Nigeria with some health development agency and how she says our health care system is dire (thank you naija politicians). I stared blankly at him and asked is she was working for free? and that her lifestyle in Nigeria is probably what she can only dream off if she were to be living In UK. Then I told him her working in Nigeria is not different to the early 90s and 2000s when there was a massive shortage of nurses and doctors here and they had to go recruit from Nigeria, Philippines and some other countries (It is a different scenario I know, but you can’t let them get away with their arrogance and stupidity lol). Croydon University Hospital and some others is more or less UCH Ibadan extension.

  16. Mz Socially Awkward...

    February 26, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Kummi, you echo some of my thoughts about stupid things I’ve heard from Europeans about my home country/continent. Once had a conversation in the canteen with some team mates and for some reason we were talking about Australia, to which I commented that I wouldn’t have the courage to live there, due to the amount of dangerous insects they have which just wander into people’s houses. You know, all their spiders as big as dustbin covers, scorpions, etc. And this blonde airhead (I know I’m stereotyping but she really lives up to the image every one has about blondes) responded with “But how can you say that, when you live in Africa with the lions?”. I was too astounded to even make the valid point that the only lions I’ve ever seen have been securely caged in a zoo but I shouldn’t have been suprised at her ignorance, since a few weeks later, she accused a Scottish work mate of not liking English people.

    Oh, and my worst thing to hear from Europeans is “Your English is so good!”. To which I always reply, “Why thanks, so is yours!”

    • Thatgidigirl

      February 26, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      @ mz SA, c’mon! don’t you think the blonde air head just fed you a dose of your own medicine? You assumed the whole of Australia is the out back where people had scorpions and bees as flatmates. She couldn’t have given a better response if you ask me.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      February 26, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      But @Thatgidigirl, wait. Do lions just wander into people’s line of vision in developed areas of Nigeria, the way you have creepies commonly populating people’s backyards in Australia? I don’t agree that my reference and her reference were exactly the same and what I actually expected her (or anyone else) to counter with was the point of mosquitoes being as deadly a threat to a European as a scorpion would be to me. Then we would have both laughed it off, I would have conceded the point and our tea-break would have ended amicably.

      But using lions, like we’re still living in the bush really irritated the ish out of me. That’s what I’m getting at and even though I’ve never been to Australia (thanks to the 24hr flight), people who have, confirm there’s a need to check your shoes before you wear them, etc. Just in case something’s wandered in while you weren’t watching. Probably the same way you’ll advice Europeans to take a malaria shot before traveling to Lagos but it would never cross your mind to say “oh and while you’re crossing the roads, watch out for the pride of lions going past”.

      That’s my point here.

    • Energy bill

      February 26, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      She might a dumb blond but on the Scots not liking the English, she is not lying. I will be bold and say the Scots are genuinely nice and friendly to other people apart from the English. They are generally genuinely nicer and more friendly. Notice the word ‘genuinely’. Forgive her the others though, she’s just having a blond moment. lol

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      February 26, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      Yeah, you’re completely right about that blonde moment, particularly since the blonde in question followed up her accusation (not the one she made to me) with “You Scots don’t like us when we English never did anything to you”. I think it was right about that precise moment that the Irish man, the Nigerian sista and the Scottish lass in the room passionately bonded in righteous indigation. English people never did anything to anyone else? Really? REALLY????? WOULD YOU LIKE US TO NARRATE SOME OF YOUR OWN HISTORY BACK TO YOU?????????? Things were very tense that day and a few days following on… despite the many comments made here about this being an overflogged topic, I have to agree with the writer about how overwhelmingly ignorant people from western nations can be.

    • D

      February 27, 2014 at 3:34 am

      Come to Australia babe. You’ll have a blast. Been living here 8 months and it’s amaaaazing!!! (Creepy crawlies etc not a problem at all!!!)

  17. Tincan

    February 26, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Interesting. I never meet people that ask these kind of studpid questions… I suppose it has something to do with the fact that my colleagues have quite a bit of experience with ‘Africa’. My non-black friends are more curious than presumptious.

  18. Babe

    February 26, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Nice make up! Nice Jewelery! This is my kind of wowzer look…Sorry to be so unserious. LMAO

  19. NicoleO

    February 26, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Troll u ar absolutely right! If we want to change the mindset of the whites,we have to change ourselves.It is sometimes exaggerated but we give them the reason to exaggerate.How can we be using candles & fetching water from wells in 2014? yes! Its not all of us but majority of Africans still live this way.Tell me,why wouldnt the westerners see us in such light?

  20. Newbie

    February 26, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Don’t get me wrong, I am proudly Igbo first, then proudly Nigerian. I am also proudly African.

    Yes we are all different, but there’s no denying that apart from the fact that we all mostly originate from and live on the same continent, we do have some things that uniquely connect us to one another. Our language groups. Our political history. Our culture –generally. I say generally because for example all over most of Africa, polygamy is culturally accepted, irrespective of religion practised. For example our family values centre on adults being dominant – even venerated, whilst children are seen, not heard. Our food – we definitely have myriad variations in how we cook and serve them, but for the most part you will find the same foods – at least in the same sub-region. Burial customs – several Africans that I know from different countries have told me that their grandparents are buried in their compound in the village as opposed to any cemetery – even where cemeteries exist. The practice of herbal medicine and it’s close relative (lol) jazz….I could go on. My point is, whilst I agree that it can be irritating to be lumped together as just ‘Africans’, we can’t deny that we have a certain element of kinship. I have African friends from as far south as Malawi and Angola, and I marvel at some of the similarities in our cultures – even the way modern life has affected us. Didn’t Igbo people claim some sort of relationship with Ethiopian Jews at one time? I can’t validate but at the same time can’t dismiss it.

    However, could it be that Westerners- Europeans in particular view Africa as ‘simply Africa’ because they have always regarded it as a prize of sorts which they snuck up on; raped and pillaged, dragged off its sons and daughters to go and develop their homelands and work their fields, came back again to, divvied up amongst themselves as colonies and then raped and pillaged some more? And as a result, do not find worthy of making any reasonable distinctions amongst its people? I say reasonable because when they divvied Africa up into countries, they clearly were not thinking of the ‘Africans’. Hence we have a continent ridden with civil wars – because people were just lumped together into convenient clusters for the oyibo to divide and rule.

    Meanwhile, don’t get me started on the Media’s portrayal of Africa. Chimamada could not have said it any better when she said that until we start telling our own stories, the danger of the single story will continue to pervade. Which is why I’m so sad we lost Komla Dumor – because he was one voice we had telling a balanced African story. By the way, in a lot of the so-called charities collecting money by flooding our screens with heart-wrenching images, only a small percentage of the money collected eventually makes its way to the poor. The rest is spent on paying fat salaries to their directors!

    • whocares

      February 26, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      The westerners have a leg in this no doubt, but we are guilty of helping them entrench their perceptions. The crux of the matter as I see it is this.. If a person has not taken the time out to learn about where I am from as an individual. One country. Why are we bothering talking about the continent as a whole? It just creates misconceptions and other things that shouldn’t come into it when that happens.
      I am with you on convergence of culture to some extent, and it surprises me, and I find it wonderful when I learn about it, but that still does not denote “Africaness, or Africanism, or Afropolitanism or whatever.. We are all African yes, but we are different as well and I wish people who knew better would embrace that difference to reveal the wholesome ties that bind us.

    • Jane Public

      February 26, 2014 at 5:38 pm

      Your first paragraph. Everything you mentioned, the same can be said of the Asian continent, but I wonder why they are more recognised by their individual nations and cultures. I wonder why. No, I don’t wonder why. What you are saying is that generalisation is okay, except when a white person makes sweeping generalisations that are insulting. Right?
      Using your analogy, why don’t they have the same attitudes towards people who are from Asia. They also conquered them in those places too. No?
      Again there is also a lot of commonality across the Asian continent, but I don’t see anyone from that part of the world standing up and writing about the tales of an Asianist, for example. I stand corrected. Whether we have commonality or not, it shouldn’t stop us from having our own individual identitites. Or will you say we have that much in common as Africans more than the scots and the northern irish have with Great britain? Yet they are still seen as individual. The world refers to them with their individual identitites. Emphasis on refer. They as a people also do the same. One little correction, you don’t have African friends. You have Angolan and Malawian friends. If you have French, German and Italian friends, I can bet money, that you won’t call them European friends. Sorry, I just had to point that out. Change has to start from within ourselves

    • Newbie

      February 26, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      I do have African friends. They happen to come from the countries referred to as Malawi and Angola. My Malawian friend is Chichewa and my Angolan friend – well, let’s just say she’s so mixed race she doesn’t cllaim any ethnic group and she only speaks Portugese anyway. Ehen, just like I have Asian friends. Yes, I refer to them as Asians. And they sometimes refer to themselves as such. I would regularly say ‘I’m going to get some hair extensions/ hair thread from the Asian shop. I typically don’t feel the need to say the Bengali shop or the Pakistani shop or the Indian shop. Most times they don’t either – if Ali doesn’t have the hair extensions / thread he would normally ask me to try the other ‘Asian shop’ down the road. When we go out for lunch at work we sometimes go to a Thai restaurant, and other times we go to a restaurant that styles itself as Pan-Asian, where everything from Indian through Chinese to Thai and Korean are served. By the way the Continent of Asia is not necessarily as homogenous as Africa is. South East Asians are remarkably different from Far Easterners – you could argue that they have more in common with the middle East than the Far Easterners.. Physiology, culture, religionyou name it. Yet for the most part, in popular culture people refer to most Far Eastern Asians as ‘Chinese’. Of course we know that there are also Japanese and Koreans and Vietnamese etc. So to draw parallells between the continent of Asia and that of Africa is perhaps comparing apples and oranges.

      Also the West did not conquer all of Asia. They certainly did not conquer China, the most populous Asian nation, which accounts to some extent for the fact that South East Asian and Far East Asian politics and popular culture fundamentally differ.

      Sweeping generalisations can be dangerous, no doubt. Perhaps the irony I am trying to point out is that the basis of the distinction which some of us are so desperate to cling onto as africans, is not one that we identify with wholeheartedly – it is still defined and dictated by the Westerners. Perhaps when we argue for expressing our identities, we should express them more along ethnic than national lines.

      And on – can’t remember who raised the point about Europeans not being referred to as Europeans. They are. British people would sometimes lump the rest of mainland Europe together as ‘Europe’. You will hear things as ‘The Europeans do this…. this is a European Car….Europeans drink far more than us but far more sensibly too….again they don’t always see the need to distinguish by country in all instances.

  21. moi-meme

    February 26, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    I cant still believe dat the westerners are so ignorant that even as at the 21st century,they still have an odd picture of Africa as a whole.Dont they watch Tv?…..do they have books to read at all?…..The average westerner is so ignorant.

  22. Manuel Oboro

    February 26, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    This is so true. Good write up and very interesting. It really amazes me when I get asked by my mates if I speak Nigerian. Commending(good) on my grammar as though we Africans no nothing about English.

  23. oyin

    February 26, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Well, Africans as a whole has done a terrible job distinguishing themselves. You get What you allow. First, it started from allowing Europeans to writet Your own history, and Africans are Busy getting mad but dont do anything to change it. Other countries highlight themselves and make sure their own historical facts, cultural way of life is presented by their own people. Why should the same Europeans who colonized you be responsible for your own work and what did you expect. Nigerians, should be the example of other Africans to follow. Nigerians, are booksmart but very lazy in other areas but expect magic to happen. No need to get angry, its all about educating people. The reason, Europeans cant be lumped up is bcos each country has gone out of their way to prove their individualism, and actually put a stop to any false info said about them. A white guy visited a tribe in Kenya, then writes a book about the whole continent and for some odd reason Africans are content with that. Its just recently that people are becoming more aware of different countries in Africa. Nigeria, is becoming more known for music, food and education. So, lets do a better job educating people, putting out more informative things that will help others understand you as a country. Westerners are aware of the truth but Nigeria, and the rest of Africa are not aware, and projecting their own truth. All Asian countries used to be based on generalization until they gradually rose in power, economy and individualism. Now, we know a lot of products are made in china, and Japanese are good with animation. Brazil and India supplies and sells their hair. Lets take responsibility, and change our outlook. Also, nothing wrong with the term “Africanism”, bcos theres still a form of togetherness and some similarities. Chinese, koreans, japanese can be referred to as “Asians” bcos thats who they are collectively unless theres need to specify. I also understand the need for each African country to break out of the “general stereotype” that follows the continent. The ball is in our court.

  24. Jaygirl

    February 26, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    I moved to England in 2009….In the first week of Uni, some white guy in my class asked me if I knew about Facebook. I was boiling inside but decided to play along. My response was “Is it a TV programme?” , he went on to explain how it worked 🙂 and I let him blab on.
    He eventually added me on facebook and realised I had been on it for over a year. It’s really sad how primitive some of them think we are.

  25. osilama toju

    February 27, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    You’ve spoken well kunmi omisore……..

  26. Demi

    February 28, 2014 at 3:55 am

    TRUEST. I hail again

  27. jaybee

    March 18, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Great responses from most of the posters,kudos..i learn a lot on bella Naija,God bless this website i pray.

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