My brother. My sister. I’ve been thinking long and hard about the role of the much talked about “African”. I’ve become a bit tense. I sometimes lose sleep. I sometimes shout. And then I get tired. Keep quiet and go to sleep while I weep. So often it seems these days we are Depicted. If not Convicted. Into prison cells made by men and women who seek to name our apparently chronic condition… speaking for us, some make it their life’s mission.
Now from my experiences. For the sake of my sanity. I have decided to articulate the “Role” of the so called “African”. But first I need to introduce you to the African. I would like you to meet Him and to meet Her.
The African and his family from across the diaspora are often painted in hues and sang about with miscues, with themes and colours that are tainted with relics of the old world.
The African and her family from across the diaspora are often presented and conscripted unwillingly to hyper sexualized identities. Sentenced to a life in combat of the pursuit of self-love in a world that seeks to affirm to her that she is not beautiful.
The African must learn that he stands and he speaks for all his people when he opens his mouth. He comes from a land and a history that is simple and homogeneous. He is an Oracle and a Rosetta stone for all the issues suffered by his fellow Africans. He must remember that he is a member of the tribe of the dark skins. He must be protected like the wildlife in the Savannah. He must be applauded with fervour when he overcomes his simple nature. He must learn to smile through gritted teeth while men and woman paternalize and emasculate him as they continue to speak at and for him. He must listen and learn to comfort them as they try their best to wash the blood from their clean hands over and over.
The African must learn that she needs to lower her voice. She needs to learn that she is just for sex and that she needs to be helped to control her frivolous nature. She is a poor victim of her simplicity; her pregnancy is rarely to be seen as a gift of promise. Her pregnancy is one that must learn to be controlled. Heaven forbid she herself has a wife. We are just not ready to address that one yet; she will have to wait patiently for those kinds of freedom. She needs to learn not to rock the boat too much; she must pacify her sensitivity and never be angry. She will have to be balanced. Civilized, you know, so that we can hear her. She must learn to love her beauty, all the while many unknowingly and roughly take it away. Slowly, but surely, day by day.
Oh you know, the African… she must do her best to learn to be submissive. A good Christian wife. She must follow the word of the Good Lord closely, after all.
Good is good? All the time.
Heaven forbid that she, this African sister, is a Muslim. A Hindu. Or anything else that she may choose.
The Role of an African is a tough one to play.
One that you’ll have to do pretty much regardless of what it is personally that you have to say.
But now my friend let me tell you what I think about the role of an African.
The role of an African is to bring pride to the continent and her children, wherever they may be.
The role of an African is to reclaim their HIS-STORY. To dictate HER-STORY. To bring to new life the colours of the world that are wrongly cast by the hues on our skins.
The role of an African is NOT to make Mother Africa attractive for Western Investors. These ones who have a long history of crimes as Global Molesters. Take your economic agreements for one moment and leave them at the door. Think carefully about what we want for our people and ask yourself why we remain seated on the floor.
The role of an African is to connect with her family. To connect with his loved ones the world over. To connect with the souls who know in their hearts what needs to be told.
The role of an African is to be aware of his social mobility. To be cautious of the praise passed in her direction. To subvert the assertions of her exceptional character of her value as an “African leader”. To reaffirm that all “Africans” are exceptional. And all “Africans” are leaders.
Most importantly for me…
Is that the role of an African is to dismantle what is “African”. To take ownership of an identity that in all truth was thrust upon us. To subvert it’s meaning with every step we take forward on our journey. To remind ourselves at all times that we are not African. We are all people.
The burden of the African is not unique to the African. But it is the curse of having to carry the weight of a flawed identity that rings all to closely of the blood that was used to paint its borders on her behalf.
The Gift of what it is to be African is that ironically only “we” can embrace it. Face it. Taste it. And ultimately destroy it.
There you have it the role of an African. According to me. Mr Kamanzi.
Share with me this moment. Pick up your Mask and rehearse your lines.
You have been cast in a one-act play.
And as long as you stay silent, my friend, I assure you, it’s here to stay.