Being African In Africa is about telling the African story - the positive African story.
My work as a communication professional for more than a decade now has taken me to over 30 countries in Africa. When I meet and interact with new people from different corners of the continent, I marvel at the stories they have to tell – about themselves, the people they live with, their communities and the lives they lead.
As an African born and living on the continent, I am enthralled by the wealth of knowledge and beauty that exists on this continent. On the flip side, whenever I turn on the TV or radio, I am bombarded by news stories and coverage that is mostly negative. News that seems to sell covers crime, corruption, drought and the like… all somewhat depressing. Important, yes, but many too are the positive stories that do not receive coverage.
Being African In Africa is a platform for sharing positive news, titbits and more balanced perspectives on life on the continent. On the social front, the continent’s people are on average hospitable, with most communities looking out for friends and relatives, and even strangers. This spirit of “Ubuntu” as it is called in southern Africa, is formed on the foundation of what it means to be human – people do not exist in isolation but in families and communities. Being African In Africa endeavours to bring forth the untold stories, unsung heroes and the pioneers that shape the beautiful continent I call home.
Houseboy and No Longer at Ease
I suppose my appreciation and consciousness of being African was to some degree influenced by some of the novels I read as a teenager. Two of the legendary authors that come to mind are Nigeria’s Chinua Achebe and Cameroon’s Ferdinand Oyono.
I remember enjoying Oyono’s Houseboy (published in 1956) which I found to be an honest but humorous work. For instance, I could not, for the life of me, picture Toundi, an African man, working as a “houseboy” and washing his Madame’s soiled undergarments. This was just too appalling in the African context.
Celebrating Africa’s Founding Mothers
Let me start by pointing out that even before the founding fathers of the Organisation for African Unity established the organisation on 25 May in 1963, African women, under the leadership of activists like Aoua Keita from Mali, Jeanne Martin Cissé from Guinea and Pauline Clark from Ghana, founded the Pan African Women’s Organisation (PAWO) in 1962.
In the period when countries around the continent where fighting for political independence, notable women played prominent roles both in their own countries and regionally.
Dare not decline African hospitality!
In a good number of African cultures, it is impolite to turn down a meal, especially if you are a stranger or rare visitor. Many are the countless times when I have partaken of food even when I was not hungry or the food did not look at all appetising.
As soon as special guests arrived, out would come the special china from the display cabinet that the family never used and the visitors would be served tea from the dainty cups and saucers which the children of the home were forbidden to even touch.