ONLY AFRICAN CAN BREAK FREE OF WESTERN STEREOTYPING


 

African led in coffles to the Coast for sale to European slave traders.

 

My opinion was in response to an article blaming African’s problem on the West.

Ali Jamah’s article in The Standard of September 14 refers. I have several reservations about the tone and pitch of his opinions since they are the same reason Africa has played into the hands of stereotype labels.
Real issues that have a negative impact on Africa are man-made including corruption, lack of Press freedom, human rights abuse, nepotism, questionable governance, famine, wars and poverty. If these were addressed, Africa would break the vicious circle of stereotype of backwardness and want. I do not mean Africa must emulate Western culture in order to win recognition. Globalization demands that societies mould or adopt systems and styles of leadership and institutions that are less oppressive, more humane and responsive to wananchi’s needs.
Most of Africa was decolonized 50 to 60 years ago and though none was expected to accelerate from zero to total “development” in such a short time, they should, nonetheless, have grown over the years.
If it helps, I remember as a child, people said anything manufactured in Japan was junk. It is no longer the case now, yet Japanese society is not an offspring or copycat of Western culture.
Jamah argues that African values are different regarding homosexuality, sexual liberation in all its forms, same sex unions and feminism. However much as this is true, Western values are as a result of long years of a gradual social evolution.

Corner of society
There is nonetheless a growing African feminist movement. Women in Africa are considered property or third-class citizens. Yet, from this corner of society and a growing wave of micro-enterprise, they are the backbone of many economies.
Imagine what more they could accomplish if they overcame such anachronistic cultural practices as genital mutilations, forced or early marriage and widow inheritance.
Africa has fabulous stories and personalities that can break the stereotype Jamah calls mental slavery. The continent has had great influence in Western art, architecture, language, history, sport but whose media are they waiting for to trumpet and exploit these achievements.

Promoting deformity
For instance, Senegalese soldiers fought in Europe against the Germans during WWII as did many East Africans; what of the North African Arab influence on the language and architecture of Spain; The African influence on modern European Art.
Great African thinkers and writers such as Felix Houphouet-Boigny and Leopold Senghor the first African to sit at L’Académie française (French Academy). And how about Maghreb influence on the cuisine of Europe as is West and North African influence on European music?
Others are the undeniable influence on European football, athletics and fashion. The immigration has positively changed the demography of Europe and the Americas, such as how brain drain has led to an exodus of nurses to Europe and even presidential material if US President Barack Obama is to be counted.
However, most recently is the invention of banking via mobile phone. Who would have thought that originated here?
The list is endless, but by default, African media promote the deformity that West is best by picturing fair skinned people on billboards, dismiss local fashion, use European-style wigs and hair straightening products, skin lighteners, glorify and build European-style houses complete with furnishings.
To make it worse almost all media give minimum airplay to African music, art, theatre, cinema and so on. Who is to blame for this sorry state of affairs? Ask your leaders, institutions of governance and media. Only then will the chains binding Africa to mental slavery break.

Patrick-Bernard

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