On being African

Happy Tuesday everyone! What a week this past week has been! It looks like as a generation, we can’t seem to catch a break – there is something tragic happening every couple of days. Regardless, I hope you are all doing ok and trying to see the positive in any given day. Each morning, my routine is to wake up, pray then check social media (because it’s the only thing that can slowly but surely wake me up), then get out of bed. When I woke up today, I was in a really good mood – I went to bed at a reasonable hour the night before and I do not have much to do today. So, I felt relaxed and calm. I prayed and after doing so, I felt very grateful for the day ahead of me. But, already at 7:30AM, my mood was ruined and instead of feeling grateful and relaxed, I started my day feeling extremely angry. When I went on Instagram, the first thing I was reminded of was how absolutely devastating it is to be an African person in this world.

As I am sure you have all seen, racism is at it again and honestly, I cannot help but be angry with what is going on. When Russia invaded Ukraine last week, I was devastated for both Ukrainian and Russian citizens who were all innocent and had to deal with a war because their politicians decided that for them. I saw dozens of other Africans (most of my followers are African), posting about the crisis, sharing donation pages and attending marches. Nothing was strange about this – this is how we are, when there is injustice around the world, we speak out… for all oppressed people without any thought of if those people would speak out for us if the roles were reversed. Let me take you all the way back to the BLM when my mom asked me why I was so adamantly supporting the movement when black Americans would not bat an eyelash at African suffering. Even though I knew it was true, I still continued to do all that I could for the movement – along with many other Africans because wrong is wrong and we should support those who need our help right?

  • In November 2022, the Ethiopian government launched an attack on the country’s Tigray region. There has been genocide being committed in this region since then with an estimation of 2,408 – 2,978 deaths. You tell me if you have seen more than a day’s worth of media coverage on this tragedy? Or if you have seen your American or European (Eastern European included) friends post about the thousands of people dying in Ethiopia? In all fairness, African’s themselves have not been posting about it either but that is a conversation that needs a lot of explaining which hopefully I can do in a follow up post.
  • The Central African Republic (CAR) has been embroiled in an ongoing war from 2012. Ceasefires were signed in both 2014 and 2016 but violence continued to erupt after both. For 10 years, residents of the CAR have been running from conflict with no access to clean water, food, stable homes or healthcare. Since the beginning of the war it is estimated that over 1.1 million people have been displaced. I have not seen a single person post about this or start a ‘the world is tragic’ conversation about it.
  • In December 2013, a violent war broke out in South Sudan, where as many as 50,000 people have died. While many people believe that the violence in South Sudan has ended, a UN report in 2021 showed that there were still violent killings and displacements taking place on a daily basis. But with little to media coverage on this tragedy, I could barely find any recent data on what is happening in 2022 – but it is definitely not peace.
  • Mozambique ongoing war – 800,000 people displaced.
  • Democratic Republic of Congo ongoing violence – 629 people killed.
  • Cameroon
  • Somalia

That is not the end of the list but I think I have made my point. I had to deep-dive on the internet just to find this information because none of it has been important enough to be shown on mainstream media. Out of all of these conflicts, the only ones that I actually knew details about were Ethiopia and Mozambique because just like you, I gobble up Western media and forget that my own continent is struggling to stay afloat. Millions of Africans are dying and no one really cares… So yes, it hurts to see the death and it hurts even more to see us protest for the oppression and violence others face when our own is ignored. And yes, although it doesn’t come as a huge surprise, it hurts to see how African’s are being treated in the Ukrainian conflict right now. Denying someone safe passage simply because they have darker skin?! I will never understand racism so I will not even try and ask for the reasoning behind such inhumane treatment.

So researching all of this and writing it up for you did nothing to alleviate my anger (expectedly). But, I do know what can alleviate my anger – I do it all the time when I see/hear someone being prejudiced towards an African person. I think to myself, “Imagine not being African?”

Contrary to what other people may believe, the thought of not being African is more devastating than being African in this world actually. Yes, there is mass suffering and a lot wrong with our countries but I would never trade my Zimbabweaness in for anything. Regardless of what I have just told you, being Zimbabwean actually feels like one if my biggest blessings and I try to remember that when I look at the way the world treats us. Imagine not having the African-vibe – that we all know we have. I cannot imagine that nor do I want to. So while I know it is easy to get angry and disheartened with the way the world treats us, we need to remember who we are and why we are proud.

I understand that the Ukrainian conflict has the potential to have worldwide consequences but I believe that there is no death on this planet that holds more weight than another. So if we are going to protest and have outcry about this conflict then, so should we about those in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Americas. There is enough wrong with the world and layering hierarchy onto tragedy only makes us hypocritical in our cries for change. 

“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”

– Desmond Tutu