LETTER TO EDITOR

No one will get Africa out of the woods but itself

Whether it’s about skewed appointments to state agencies or admission to schools, Africa is guilty of tribal bigotry

In Summary

• Racism, just like the monster of tribalism in Africa, did not start with Covid-19.

• It’s a centuries-old scourge that has made millions feel as though they belong to a lesser God.

A photo of some of the Africans let stranded on the streets in China following discrimination claims
A photo of some of the Africans let stranded on the streets in China following discrimination claims
Image: COURTESY

Africa has crossed swords with what a section of it has often christened “The Imperial West” and its on and off bosom buddy, China.

If it’s not the loud expressions of suspicion with the suggestions by the French and British scientists about carrying out Covid-19 vaccine trials in Africa, it’s the outrage greeting the ill-treatment meted out on Africans in China.

This resentment, conveyed majorly on social media, might convince one to believe that Africa is about to chart its own course, something that, if it were to happen, could usher a new era of African solutions to African problems. But is Africa ready to walk alone in a world where deep bilateral ties are the engine nations peg their economic success on, and expect these racial stereotypes to ebb away?First, the chief impediment to Africa’s economic development has always been state-sanctioned corruption.

Racism, just like the monster of tribalism in Africa, did not start with Covid-19. It’s a centuries-old scourge that has made millions feel as though they belong to a lesser God. However, while some developed countries excelled in perpetuating the vice, Africa has made up by subjecting its very own people to tribalism. It may sound nationalistic to condemn acts of racism abroad or in one’s own country, but it smirks of hypocrisy to engage in tribal supremacy at home at the same time. 

It shouldn’t escape our attention that many Africans projecting themselves as true champions for a racial-free and a fairer world through the gleeful pushing of hashtags are always a tweet or a post away from defending their ethnic chieftains.  That’s why ethnically abhorrent words such as madoadoa (stains), foreskin and jiggers still easily find their way to social networking sites.

Whether it’s about skewed appointments to state agencies or admission to schools, Africa is guilty of tribal bigotry, the twin sister to racial chauvinism. We even storm public universities when vice-chancellors appointed do not belong to our tribes!

Secondly, respect is earned, not demanded. The advent of the information age, with all its technological breakthroughs, may have turned the world into a beautiful global village. However, we shouldn’t use everything that happens in the West as the yardstick for social and economic stardom. From fashion to sports and intellectual wherewithal, we have trashed our own and look up to Europe and America to derive satisfaction.

People have gone a step farther to lighten their skins and acquired European and American accents in a race to alienate themselves from Mother Africa.

I recently heard an NYS graft case suspect refer to a child a chokora (street children) because they stopped “speaking German”. We disparage our sports stars and only associate with them when they make it to the English Premier League or the Spanish La Liga.  Add this to the deadly immigration to Europe and you have a continent whose people are in a race to look European or American but are not willing to use the same Western systems to spur itself to enviable economic heights.

Lastly, we have refused to delink ourselves from the Biblical adage, “a prophet is not honoured in his home village” even when that honour speaks for itself. While our innovators, scientists and exceptional men and women of talent are languishing in abject poverty, we will honour people who line up to vote while eating githeri and ravish the state with political flattery. 

No one is going to get Africa out of the woods, except itself.

Joab Apollo

Freelance journalist and writer