African Dreamin’ 1 : The “Poor Africa” Syndrome

2 Jun


A conference titled “Our African Dream” was recently hosted by His People Church. On the conference website it said “is a time to consecrate ourselves, ignite the fire of revival and renew our minds” and all this got me thinking about mind renewal, revival and my personal dreams for my continent. There is nothing I agree with more than the need for mind renewal. As Africans we need to change how we see ourselves, but it would also be nice if the rest of the world changed the way it saw us. In Africa, Exhibitions and Fears of the Dark author David Elliot says “forever a victim, forever an underdog, forever backward- in culture benighted or belated -poor Africa!” Let’s face it this is how our continent is often viewed and described although with a lot more subtlety but still with ignorance. Who can forget Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness in which Africa is painted as a dark, horrific, savage place. Very ignorant. It’s this same ignorance that makes people think we ride giraffes to work here or that we have no roads, wear animal skin. A bit extreme you think? I think not. Don’t tell me you don’t think it’s ignorant when someone says they’ll be visiting “Africa”, they neglect to mention the country their going, no, to them it’s just Africa. This is point that I will remind such people that Africa has 53 nations and isn’t just one giant country. Got it? Good! Will Africa ever be seen as a force to be reckoned with and not the Dark Continent? Will our continent always be othered and treated as a sad charity case? Will we ever be viewed outside of the “Poor Africa Syndrome?” Eliot also says that our continent is a dumping ground for the West’s negativity. What I want to know is how long will this continue? What we need to do is to wipe ourselves clean of the negative prejudices and create our own identity and stop adhering to one which we did not author ourselves. This need to happen so that our people, our art, our music and all the other African products can take it’s place alongside products of the rest of the world and not below them.


One Response to “African Dreamin’ 1 : The “Poor Africa” Syndrome”

  1. normanjmuk June 4, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    its sad that in Africa, one’s level in society’s heirarchy is measured by one’s adoption of ‘white’ mannerisms, language and’l hear Shona refer to a rich person or their boss as ‘murungu’ wangu..

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