What Africans have to say about themselves and their continent…

A while ago I decided to capture ‘Africa’ through the eyes of some of its citizens.  I did this by informally quizzing three Africans of different nationalities – one of them currently residing overseas.  The following is a synopsis of their responses:

What makes you an African?

×        The rich culture.

×        My ethnicity is my identity. There is more to my skin tone and my “foreign accent.” It is the privilege I have to live in two different worlds. I am able to enjoy the benefits of globalisation from the western world and at the same time enjoy the simplicity of my culture. Being African to me is a mind-set. I have a list of rules and beliefs engraved in my mind. A set of rules and beliefs that cannot be altered by external influences. My mother’s voice is my conscious and my family are my examples. Her word goes and going against them is my sin. My family is my identity.

×        My love and respect for the continent, its landscapes, its citizens (both animals and people) and its diversity.

What do you like most about your country or continent?

×        The freedom I enjoy, feeling at home

×        From local snacks like dried nuts and sugarcane to the delicacies like oxtail and maize brew, Africa is my favourite bread basket. The sense of belonging is also one aspect I enjoy. The frequent questions and remarks of “where you from?” “Your English is very good for an African,” “Where did you get your shoes from?” - have made me put it upon myself to represent Africa in the best way I can.  I enjoy the facial reactions I get when I give props to my education and upbringing.  I believe I kill the stereotypes all in one conversation each time and I can do it all day.

×        I like African stories from simple tales to triumphant ones. There’s always a human angle to an African story.

×        Our human spirit, Ubuntu and our beautiful skin tones.

What do you not like about your country or continent?

×        The politics, corruption and poverty.

×        Corruption. Corruption is an ever-growing cancer in Africa. Politician after politician literally go into power just to steal. The sad part is the inaction of citizens, for we know what goes on but little to no action is taken each time.

×        The potential in my country is amazing but the people in power are closed-minded, semi-educated, tribalists that exploit the country every day. This angers me and has driven me to one day join politics and help out the country I love.

What is/are your worst African experience /s?

×        Having to ‘fight’ to get things done, laisser-faire attitude, the feeling of entitlement by family members which results in laziness and over dependence.

×        Unfavourable natural disasters, unstable political tensions and lack of enabling environment for entrepreneurial start-ups.

×        In October 2015, I lost my wallet. I was able to replace every card in it, except one, my driver’s license. It was the only government issued piece of ID that went missing. The cards owned by multinational companies and foreign governments were easily replaced – within a few weeks. My license on the other hand can only be replaced through means of corruption. Being an upright citizen, my mother refused to use the crooked way but it now has been eight months and my license is still being ‘processed’.

What is/are your best African experience/s?

×        Growing up in Africa I enjoyed the family support system, the food, social life, the weather.

×        Friendship. Africa is one of the few places on earth where race, age, class or educational levels do not come into play when it comes to making friends. Other cultures look at your financial status or skin colour when it comes to making friends. In 2014 I joined an international school which housed people from many countries. In the beginning I was sceptical for I felt like a “foreigner” but I was instantly accepted into that community.

×        Childhood memories which are full of experiences and are nothing short of fireworks.

The responses I received point to the respondents' pride in their culture and identity as Africans. Although not representative in any way, their answers also brought out the ‘cancer’ of the continent that needs urgent removal - corruption.