Why the definition of African no longer matters to me

Soon after writing my last piece the topic of classism began to occupy my mind almost full-time. I became very quickly aware that in a country like mine (almost completely homogenously “black”) there were still factors that divided us as a people. My notion that all African people are the same and should be able to relate and connect based almost solely on their African-ness was challenged and almost completely discredited for the uninformed self-righteousness it revealed within me.

Along with the realisation that the words of Biko and Muendane, as well as the musings of a teenage girl on what I term ‘theoretical politics’, had almost no weight in the minds of the “common man.” The average African living very close to the poverty-line, had very little interest in what I believed was all it took for the world to change: an understanding of one’s identity as an African as well as the prioritization of this factor.

I began to see that if such things would have an effect on people, then the state in which these people lived would have to change immediately. Before I was to step onto my soap-box (which you will find is carved from the self-righteous wood of my middle-class upbringing) it would be imperative that I begin to focus on the factors that would allow these Africans to have any dams to give about the musings of contemporary ‘pan-Africanists’ like myself.

I see now that on this continent, at this juncture, it is economics that has more of an effect on people than matters of race. That is what has more power to connect people across nations. I can no longer stand by my previous emphasis on the difference between Sudanese and Ghanaian people or Moroccan people and “Cape Coloureds”, which was based on my perceptions about the differences in their heritage.

It no longer matters to me. What I recognize now is a similarity in state. A plight being endured in Somaliland has the same effect on my soul as the plight being endured in Swaziland—“Arab” genes be damned.

Since then, the fire burning within me for the pursuit of economic reforms in Africa has been my primary focus. I have since begun to direct my energy to new icons that have inspired and influenced me to think of ways in which I (and my peers) can take direct action to demand policy changes in our governments, that I can see serve only the elite in African states.

Icons like Biko and company, have been succeeded, in my mind, by people like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as well as George Ayittey that are doing what they can to create real change in Africa today.

To be continued…


5 thoughts on “Why the definition of African no longer matters to me

  1. African economics is also rooted in race. Neo-colonialism accounts for many of Africa’s economic problems. From the assassination of our Pan African leaders that rejected bribes from the West and paid with their lives to the supposed fiat currency African states owe the World bank and IMF. How do a people alleviate poverty when they simply do not have the means to do so?

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