Tuesday, 16 March 2010

White and African and belonging too

My Economist
This morning, I picked up a tweet from the Economist, somehow, I seem to go through the weekly newspaper online long before I have physically flipped the pages of my print edition.
Suffice it to say, I am usually behind on catching up with the topics covered, it had to have been a case of prescience that I took out a two-year subscription in January 2009 to end somewhere in May 2011 without realizing I would experience a brief famine of opportunity and means not long afterwards.
The tweet - @TheEconomist: The short sad life of whites in Africa http://econ.st/9Aj5GZ - To which I added the comment - A story that also must be heard and seen.
Africans – black & white
Considering how Black Africans have “suffered” at one time under whites, one might tend to not consider the plight of presumably white Africans – but without too much controversy, it is arguable that independent sovereign black Africans are suffering badly under their own African leaders.
This is not to stir up any controversy but to assert the fact that there are white Africans who have claim and affinity to Africa than some of us who are African by reason of race, birth, custom or residence.
Putting aside the squabbles of land and resources, in a world where documentary evidence might well count for eligibility and entitlement, some whites in some African lands might be able to verifiably trace their lineage back many more generations than our black oral histories can muster – I fortunately, had a great grandmother into my 20s, she had a narrative that allowed a plot back of 6 generations from mine.
More African than I
The other day, some 15 years ago in an office in Kingston-upon-Thames, South-West of London, I heard my name called with a Yoruba perfect accent, the “N” is a bit nasalised but rarely emulated by non-Nigerians.
I turned around and was startled to see the lovely white girl who had a deeper Nigerian accent than I could ever attempt to jest with who was born in Nigeria, spoke Yoruba fluently – she said proudly, she was Nigerian by birth just as I would have said I was English – beyond the many white schoolmates I had in primary school who were Nigerian it was nice to recognise the kinship across races.
Then again, I remember another instance where a white colleague said he was more African than the 4 other black Britons of Nigerian heritage – I promptly concurred whilst the others took umbrage, considering hardly any of them could speak an African language nor had they experienced much of anything Nigerian in their lives.
Well, he was born in Kenya, he had lived in at least 3 African countries, visited 9 in addition to that, spoke Swahili, managed a bit of passable Yoruba and Hausa and bantered with corrupt African terms that made me almost too colonial to appreciate – I was beaten on that track, he was more African, period.
Loving Africa by choice
Going back to the Economist story, it is not the first time that the presumed Messianic white person has tried to do something in Africa and come to grieve at the hands of the natives – to excite passions flippantly – just as Dian Fossey comes to mind, she chose to make Africa home in the course of her research.
Another in the commendable class is Susan Wenger who became the custodian of the animist grottos of Osun in Nigeria, being one who for all intents and purposes has helped maintain those customs against the onslaught of religions that portend to declare our traditions inherently evil.
They belong as we do
We have to accept that we have ordinary white Africans who are just like you and I, who have every right to freedoms, justice, due process and consideration, just as we who proclaim for those of the black race in Africa.
They should not only be looked at in terms of colonialism, land-grabs or foils for feigned liberation struggles masking rotten leadership and corrupt – they also belong in Africa and like everyone would fight for their little piece of Africa than gives them a history and heritage.
In the end, it does not matter what colour you are or if you are in a minority, if you have a claim to be African, as anyone elsewhere might well have a claim to be who they aver they are, then you are welcome as an African brother and fellow citizen of our amazing global village.
Sources

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