What will it take for the world to affirm the undeniable place of Africans in the grand world order? Does it have to take insults from a world leader who should know better for Africa Leaders and the rest of the world to stand up and protect the dignity of the African?
Events that unfolded this past week; the president of the free world, Donald John Trump’s reference to African countries as “ShitHole Countries” and the advert by one of the leading global retailers H&M featuring a black boy with a sweatshirt bearing the writing, ‘I’m the coolest monkey in the jungle’ flanked by a white boy on the same advert with a sweatshirt spotting the words… ‘I’m an expert in survival.’ Needless to say, this should set off a global furore because it is not just about President Trump or the H&M advert… it is about the value the world places on human lives and dignity, indeed the lives and dignity of the African Race.
You see the prejudice that Donald Trump and the H&M advert have been so bold to verbalise is flaunted in the faces of the African all the time. Why with the unilateral immigration policies propagated by the so called rich countries? Africans legitimately travelling out of their countries are perpetually exposed to the cold suspicion and even mistreatment of those who think they are a more superior race. Despite having a legitimate visa that an African is turned inside out and robbed of all dignity in the pretext of risk assessment before it is granted; an African is still greeted with so much unfriendliness and hostility before being let into the foreign countries. It is as if immigration officers are trained to first and foremost consider the African as a problem; monkeys that are only bent on mischief and to causing untold havoc! Isn’t it amazing how the only time a monkey is seemingly well treated is when confined to a cage in a zoo… a spectacle for curious tourists… Where is the humanity of African race? Does the Universal Declaration of Human rights not count?
Furthermore, Africans; qualified men and women are prejudiced and often denied leadership opportunities and even where they get such opportunities are over scrutinised because of their origin… why? Is this in upholding the now loud perception that we are merely products of shithole origins and not good enough for the world? Why do Africans always have to prove that they are super-humans, overqualified and prove that they have competencies in the western education system and industry to compete and qualify for the same positions as any ordinary non-African?
But yet again, the latest turn of events should not be surprising as President Trump seems to be a mouthpiece for those who think that their race is more superior to the African race. Perhaps this is what such people have been waiting for… a mouthpiece, in this case a reckless one that does not even have the spine to stand by its own utterances! I salute the non-Africans, who have since the Donald Trump utterance reached out in person on text, email and phone calls to categorically state that what President Trump said is a minority view that it does not reflect who Americans really are. These have been few but very brave people and I salute them.
You see, the World, Africans included have been quick to forget the great contributions and achievements of Africans in bringing to bear the civilisation on mankind. Where would the world be without the great architecture and engineering of the Mwene Mutapa Kingdom, the numerical system developed in ancient Yoruba and Congo, to mention just but a few? Perhaps the question begs; why has Africa not sustained these early civilisations? The reasons are many, ranging from the brutal occupation of our countries, slavery and the relentless plundering of our resources, even our brain! Worse still African leaders add fuel to the fire that treats Africans like animals! What with the rampant rigging of elections, corruption, massacres and tribalism that is so common place in many African countries? Where African leaders think and behave as if they are above the law at the expense of long term development visions exposing our youth to precarious immigration searching for better prospects?
This time round, give it to African leaders… overnight African countries came up with a strong statement demanding an apology from President Trump. This is a pleasant surprise, a rare show of unity among African leaders because in many other situations that matter for instance… when South Sudan is at war… when terrorists attacked Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Kenya, when Americans and other Europeans murdered Gaddafi… to name but a few, our African leaders were silent…
So, if it takes reference to shithole countries to rally Africans to rise up and stand together in hope as one, so be it… let’s be angry but let’s not lose focus of what really matters for Africa… let’s not lose focus of the fact that the IMF, the World Bank and other international entities have perfected the art of treating us as shithole countries while plundering our resources … let’s be angry because they continue to loot our very best and in the same breath denigrade us as shitholes and monkeys… let’s be angry because anger; at the way things are and courage; to see that they do not remain the same are the products of hope (Saint. Augustine).
You see friends, being African and having black skin does not make us inferior. Think of Haiti, and how they defeated the French empire. The first ever African country to liberate themselves from colonialism, where is the inferiority here? Allow Africa equitable conditions and see what happens. International football (soccer) is a good example; see how Africans thrive in that space?
But hey, let’s Africa not imagine that other people will create equitable conditions for us. We have to do it ourselves and do it NOW!! Let’s strive for and create the Africa we want; an Africa where we see ourselves as citizens; where we behave as citizens. A peaceful, prosperous and integrated continent, driven by her own citizens; and maximising the priceless asset embodied in the many young people of this continent… this is the Africa we Want! Let it known to all that we; the Africans are neither shitholes nor monkeys, we are a vital and dignified part of the human race. #NotShithole
Carlos Sanvee, General Secretary, AAYMCA