The Mythology of a Unified African Identity

The Mythology of a Unified African Identity

If we were honest with ourselves, we would see Africa as a rich patchwork of identities, each with different requirements for development. If we continue to see Africans as all the same, we destroy the cultures which constitute its diverse and rich history to the detriment of sustainable development. Africans need to have this conversation.

If Africans wish to democratise, they need to acknowledge local units of power in a federalist arrangement that recognises autonomy and limited self-determination within a unified political entity capable of achieving a viable economy of scale. - by Justin Steyn

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Réunion, a ‘meeting place’

Réunion, a ‘meeting place’

I could not help wonder if there is a place on the face of the earth off the continent of Africa where one would find majority of the Africans that have settled there over a number of generations that are not descendants of slaves….  The mixing of the above races, together with those from Malagasy, Comoros and Indo-Portuguese ancestry, had resulted into the majority of the population being mixed race that embrace the Creole language and culture.  I was further enlightened that since nobody could claim to be an indigenous Réunionnais, nobody was looking for ‘independence’ from France as they were all quite happy with things the way they were.

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Houseboy and No Longer at Ease

Houseboy and No Longer at Ease

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. I must confess that back then, I might not have fully understood that as the storyline progressed and Toundi struggled to find his identity, having moved from his rural village, it was also a time when Africa, in the wider context, was trying to maintain its unique identity and shake off colonial rule and some of its atrocious consequences.

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My African hair

My African hair

A part of my Africanness that I have battled with all my life is my hair. In its natural state, an afro is not always an easy hair-do to wear. If you lean back in your chair, for example, it gets messed up.

The dilemma is compounded when Afros are not considered a ‘professional’ look in most circles. So now I find myself travelling the middle road of braids and weaves – wearing my hair natural only when ‘occasions’ permit….

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Abuja

Abuja

My trip to Abuja a few years ago was highly rewarding.  I found Nigerians to be friendly and felt right at home in the capital city.  Getting around the city was very easy with its well-laid out roads.  Sustainable water and electricity can be a real challenge in parts of Nigeria though.  Generators have since become standard household items and it is quite normal to buy drinking water.

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