Sugarcane sweet, deserts her hair, golden her feet, mountains her breast, two Niles her tears, thus she lain.
Black through the years, over the while seas, rime white cold, brigands ungentled, took her young daughters, sold her strong sons, churched her with Jesus, bled her with guns, thus she has lain… (Excerpt from Maya Angelou’s (R.I.P phenomenal one) poem, ‘Africa’).
The words of the poem (above) are so rich with a well painted imagery of her (Africa). With each falling syllable inflicting upon a keen reader the incessant aching for an understanding. Then I remember stumbling upon an anonymous quote, “Africa is not a place, it is a feeling.” I chuckle, because turns out Africa may not just be a feeling, she indeed is a lady in her prime.
I don’t quite remember how a fortnight ago my friends and I ended up discussing names, particularly English (or are they Christian names?), when I intimated to them just how much I love being referred to by my African names as opposed to the English one. Naturally, that conversation was bound to evoke different reactions and emotions from different people. Some felt that there’s not much in a name, while others think/feel that names are quite a big deal. Personally, I must confess that the more I know about myself, and understand the African tale, the more disinterested in my English/Christian name I grow. In my recent years, I have continually made concerted efforts to ensure people identify me as Mbula Nzuki and not Eva/Evelyn.Don’t get me wrong, we all have different perspectives, and that’s perfectly okay. I mean, revolutions come in different forms and sizes, don’t they? Ha ha.
This is it, I find English names (on me), as a black African woman, quite burdensome if not purely misleading. In fact, I never knew how much a name would make me feel colonized until recently. There must have been something that the colonialists did to convince those before us that our ways, beliefs and mannerisms were inferior to theirs. Probably the same thing that has ‘girls of color’ bleaching their skin to achieve a lighter shade, as though this melanin I drip of were not a blessing in itself. Isn’t the same thing that makes me giggle when an African mispronounces English words (mark you this is a foreign language), the same demon that would convince me that Eva is a better name in comparison to Mbula, Nafula or Achieng? Isn’t this the curse of brain washing? The very evil spirit that will have people think my body curves and kinky dense African hair need “a face lift”? So, yes, I’m revolting. I am reversing the curse we children of mama Africa have been living in, and I’m starting with embracing the kink in my hair, the weight on my hips and the accentuated identity rolling off my tongue through speech. Yes, I’m revolting. I’m rewriting the African tale my way. And it starts with self and proceeds on to rubbishing the narrative that Africa is a needy woman, forever languishing in turmoil.
“Africans must change their mind and actions. The keys to building your continent depends on your will-power, persistent effort and action towards self liberation.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita
My friend from America (I bet America is a country, just like Africa. LOL) shared with me a link to the satirical page on Instagram owned by the fictitious character – Barbie Savior. The page is satirical of the white people’s mentality that Africa is a dark COUNTRY, with people languishing in abject poverty, awaiting to be rescued, hence ‘savior’. So Barbie Savior highlights the sad joke that captures a continent as rich as Africa, as merely a country. She also espouses the pretense that comes with the so-called saviors in Africa. They masquerade as saviors when in essence, they are saving themselves (from what? I don’t know). She jokes further about the obsession of religion in the country of Africa hahha and it sure does go from a sad tale to a funny one at that point. Check out some of the hilarious posts below. You may visit the page as well for some comic relief if nothing else at all :-).
See, I no longer get mad when the so-called saviors refer to Africa as a country, she might as well be a house. Innit? What I’m not okay with, is Africans’ complacence that has seen visitors tell our story and sell it to us. And we have bought their perspective of us as though it were the saving grace upon which our very being depended. Truth is, if Africans don’t rewrite the African narrative, the Barbie Savior’s of our world will. Africa does not even need ‘help’ from the developed world, Africa needs business. And Africa needs representatives who will not sell her small or be cowered into thinking she is the needy sister. She is indeed the resourceful sister. She needs representatives from the various states who have evolved past greed that sees them looting from public ‘coffers’.
Well, I am only awakening from what feels like a drunken stupor, or a beautiful nightmare of sorts. The very thing that drove Beyonce to wake up chanting to her song “Formation”, the very thing that is both awakening and lulling, the thing that you see, and no, you don’t quite see. It must be what President Obama made reference to when he wrote, “The worst thing that colonialism did was to cloud our view of our past.” (in ‘Dreams from My Father: A story of Race and Inheritance’.
Lovely weekend to all of you my beYOUtiful readers. Remember, the country of Africa is not just a country, it is an unending love affair:-)
“I have loved no part of the world like this and I have loved no women as I love you. You’re my human Africa. I love your smell as I love these smells. I love your dark bush as I love the bush here, you change with the light as this place does, so that one all the time is loving something different and yet the same. I want to spill myself out into you as I want to die here.” – Graham Greene, The End of the Affair.