This post is something that has been on my mind since September. Enjoy! xo
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In September, I attended a conference where one of the presenters said something that really stood out to me.
I want to make a difference and I really want to help others but Africa just feels like a black hole
She is not the first white person I have heard use the phrase “black hole” in the context of making a difference in Africa.
So here are 10 things I wish more Americans knew about Africa and Africans.
#1. East Africa and West Africa are VERY Far Apart
So when I introduce myself and say,
hello, I’m Kola and I’m from Nigeria
Don’t tell me that you know somebody from Somalia or Ethiopia.
Think about it this way.
If somebody introduced themselves by saying,
Hi, I’m Hannah and I’m from Canada
Would it be appropriate for me to respond by saying “oh my god. I know somebody from Puerto Rico!”?
#2. Africa is Nothing Like What You See on TV
Africa is kind of like Europe.
Yes, there are many challenges in Africa but there are also movie theaters, cars, and advanced technologies in Africa.
If it makes anyone feel any better, when I lived in Nigeria, I used to think that all of the US looked like Hollywood.
Lol (even I have to laugh at myself for that one).
#3. It’s Okay to Ask Questions
I cannot tell you how many Americans ask me questions about my background.
And when I start to respond, they begin to apologize for not knowing more about Africa.
Don’t apologize for not knowing.
Most Africans don’t know a lot about your culture either and that’s okay.
#4. We Take Our Music Very Seriously
So if you go to an African party where there is music, don’t turn it down just because you want to play Apples to Apples.
This actually happened -__-
#5. No African Speaks an Intuitive Language
One of the questions I get the most often is whether I speak Nigerian.
No, I don’t speak Nigerian.
I speak Yoruba, French, and English.
There is no African country where the language spoken matches the name of the country because most African countries used to be European colonies.
A better guess would be English, French, Portuguese, or Arabic :)
#6. The Thing About Accents
You have an accent. Everybody has an accent.
You may not know that you have one because your ears have become used to hearing it but you have one.
And guess what?
We like it. So it’s all good.
#7. A Note on Ebonics
Just because Black Africans look like African Americans doesn’t mean that we automatically understand things that African Americans do.
So when you’re talking to a Black African, don’t be like
girlfrieeeeennndddd *snaps fingers*
#8. Outfits are Not Costumes
When my brother was graduating from college, I wore a traditional Nigerian outfit.
I can see why this would have made stand out because he went to school in the middle of nowhere land.
Anyway, this sweet little old lady sat behind me, tapped me on the shoulder and said,
I loooooveee your costume!
I knew what she meant so I just said thank you.
However, another African sitting next to me was a little offended that she called my outfit a costume.
I don’t think it’s a big deal but, just as an FYI, African outfits are just that – outfits.
They are not costumes.
#9. Safari versus African Family
If you’re going to Africa, live with an African family.
You have not been to Africa if all your time is spent at a resort or a Safari.
#10. It’s Complicated
I’ve seen the word, simple, used A LOT in reference to life in Africa.
*insert confused look here*
Fun Fact: Do you know that, in Nigeria, it’s not uncommon for one man to have four wives?
What is simple about that?
No, Africans do not have a “simpler” way of life. Africans are not “simple” people.
Africa is every bit as complex as North America, Europe, Asia, or anywhere else.
One More Thing
When you put Africa in a list, can I just ask that we put it alongside other continents (and not countries)?
Here’s an example of a bad list
United States, Canada, China, India, and Africa
Africa is not a country. It is a continent.
Here’s an example of a better list
Europe, North America, South America, and Africa
So there you go.
10 things I wish more Americans knew about Africa and Africans.
Make sure you tell your best friend about this post. Thanks so much! xo