When I was five or close to six, I remember I love to sing about some seven rivers in Africa: River Nile, River Niger, River Benue, River Congo, River Orange, River Lipopo, and River Zambezi. I knew there was something about these Rivers and something wonderful about Africa. To me, this song was like an anthem for Africa and the word ‘Africa’ sounded like the name of a warrior, it connoted bravery. It was beauty!
I read an article sometime ago about the beauty of Africa and I found out in the words of Jena Lee, Executive Director of Water Blood Mission (BWM) that “there is something romantic about Africa. Throughout history, its people, its tragedies, its beauty, and its wonders have caused outsiders to romanticize the continent. When Western explorers documented their first steps and journeys unto the shores of the African continent in the late 1800s, Americans read with wonder and intrigue about an untouched placed of people, animals and land that exceeded their imagination. Even today, National Geographic captures stories of people who are exotic and beautiful. Travelers, photographers, and wanderers have dreamed of visiting places that are contrary to and seemingly far removed from a Western lifestyle.”
I once thought about Africa as a continent that was synonymous with slavery, backwardness; a continent that was romanced with the pain of imperialism, torture and pain. An Africa that savour of pain, oppression and starvation; and we danced to the tune of intimidation, discrimination, even humiliation. The African story was like a hopeless hope, and I hazard that most Africans must have given up on the race. It was not enough that our land was taken from us; we were enslaved in our own land. But slow and steady like David Diop asserted in his poem …
‘That tree that grows there
Splendidly alone among white and faded flowers
Is Africa, your Africa…
Slowly its fruits grow to have
The bitter taste of liberty’
Africa struggled free from the shackles of slavery and sprung up like the water lily that has triumphed over the harsh wave of imperialism. Once more, in David Diop’s poem we became
‘Africa of proud warriors
In the ancestral savannahs…’
Africa of great valleys, mountains, and greenery—all compliments of our culture: our traditional dances, our traditional dishes, our festivals, our languages, our iros and bubas, our agbadas, geles, ankarahs and kentes are all wisdom of ancestral heritage and natures enlightenment. We have become the wonders that must be tapped from. This time, not to be exploited but to share in our culture and way of life and I began to imagine our white brothers abandoning their suits for our agbada. Acculturation I guess; another way of naturalization, in order to enjoy the richness of our ancestral heritage.
Our culture has come to be loved—no doubt, like John Pepper Clarke’s abiku; it is no longer “bestriding the threshold” of civilization and tradition, it has come to stay and be enjoyed by both the whites and the blacks alike.
Each time I sit to think about Africa, my mind wanders; from the continental land mass to its individual parts; the scale is massive. Besides having the second largest continental surface area, containing 54 nations within its boundaries, it is also home to River Nile, the longest river in the world, and also some very large lakes. As well as huge deserts, river and lakes, the continent also has high mountains containing igneous rocks and large swathes of ecologically important rain forest. Oh Africa! Where do I stop or continue from in this historic nature’s journey. The Sahara desert is Africa’s best known and biggest desert. In fact, it is the most expansive arid region on the planet. The African continent is home to more than 700million people, who speak more than a thousand different languages. We are blessed! This home, Africa, reminds me of bravery and victory over tragedies, pains, wars, starvation, and diseases.
Most stories about Africa often go with the thought of naked people that live on trees but the beauty that nature has bestowed on us cannot be overlooked. Africa is home of nature and culture like the biblical garden of Eden.
Africa will one day come to a point, where people will mistake it for the American continent, when you say something significant, someone would ask “do you mean Africa or America?” This is because there will be no difference between these super powers. African people are so unique that foreigners cannot just take their eyes of us; Travellers, Wanderers, and Explorers cannot just stop coming back to us.
Africa is a continent that interests me every time I think about it, not because I am an African but because I have read about Africa and with my little knowledge, I have come to a conclusion that there could not have been a better continent for we, Africans; Africa is black, rich and endowed.
At this point, I can not help but wonder about the Africa of my imagination; like a fairytale with black princes and princesses that will live happily ever after. We have a lot to offer, and to think of the least – our culture, we have our unique selling point beyond culture. Africa has reached a height in the world, where anyone can stand on and see the splendours in it: our tradition, folktales, stage plays, our arts and crafts, and our intelligence. All these have been tapered and woven with the thread of civilization, so that we are a blend! Such rarity; to the extent that every body wants to have a feel of this enchantment. I once saw a white man clad in a native attire, the expression on his face showed excitement and satisfaction of a unique continent. Obviously, he must have fallen in love with our dishes and is fascinated by our languages… Africanized, I guess. Our woodcarvings, paintings and potteries have become ‘oyibos’ decoration.
Africa has grown beyond the misery of foreign domination, so that when they look down on us, what they see forces them to look up because the Africa that they see is a transformed Africa growing from strength to strength. The Africa that they see is Africa… our true Africa!
Image via Grammie